By Stephanie Parker
What if my friend said to me “hey, I’m tired of this cold weather, let’s get away and drive to Florida.” So we get in the car and I say, “do you want me to put our destination it in the GPS?” She says, “No, we are good, I know how to get there.”
We drive for a while and then, out the window, I start to notice that instead of palm trees, I’m seeing more and more pine trees. Instead of warmer weather, it’s actually getting snowy and icy and mountainous. So I pull out my phone and check if we are headed the right way and we are clearly in Colorado. I then tell my friend, “um… I think you may have been wrong about your directions. It doesn’t look like we are headed to Florida.” Then I show her the GPS to prove that we are clearly off course.
At this point, what do you hope my friend will say in response? Maybe…
o “Oh wow, I’m so sorry! I’ll turn around right away!”
o “I was wrong.”
o “I should have listened to you.”
Instead, she says, “no, I’m going to keep going this way because this is the right way… you are wrong and I’m right.” She completely ignores the snow and the pine trees and continues driving. How do you think that would make me feel? What kind of emotions would run through me in that moment? Anger, frustration, shock, hurt, dismay, to name few.
Unfortunately, our churches are full of people like this. I know I was like this too at one point in my life! But at the very core of who we are as Christians, we have to ask ourselves, “Can I really call myself a CHRISTian?” Just like my friend who refused to acknowledge she was wrong, and turn back from the direction she was headed, there are many “professing Christians” that prayed the prayer of salvation and even attend church or Bible Study and may even lead a ministry but haven’t changed their course one little bit. Their hearts remain in rebellion to God.
James 1: 22-24 puts it like this: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”
It’s like if I looked in the mirror and noticed a massive piece of spinach in my tooth. Then, I turned around without removing the spinach and smiled for a selfie and posted it all over Facebook! It’s absurd. But that’s what we do sometimes.
We are hard bent on disobedience because:
• Obedience means giving up our comfort and actually putting ourselves out there to go and make disciples like Jesus asked us to do. Francis Chan jokes, “Simon says pat your head and we pat our heads. Jesus says, go and make disciples of all nations and we memorize that verse.”
• Obedience means actually having to love and forgive people that we don’t feel deserve forgiveness.
• Obedience means treating our bodies as the temples God created them to be and not stuffing them with cookies and cake.
• Obedience means sacrificing that fancy car and those designer clothes to actually feed the needy.
• Obedience means really seeking God FIRST instead of going to Facebook, ourselves or our friends first for affirmation or advice.
• Obedience means submitting to or loving our spouse when it’s the last thing we want to do because we are “right” and they aren’t. (within reason of course… if there is abuse or if a spouse is treating you in a way that’s not in line with scripture than that’s a different story).
• Obedience means really setting our minds on things above instead of setting them on things like Game of Thrones, the Bachelor, 50 shades of Grey and other influences that tend to lead us down a path of airbrushed love, lust and discontentment.
• Obedience means intentionally instructing our children in the way that they should go instead of just handing them a tablet or a remote or a gameboy.
• Obedience means humbling our hearts and recognizing that we don’t have it all together in our own strength and we need help… we need a Savior.
Don’t get me wrong, true Christians will still struggle with sin and obedience this side of eternity. I struggle with all of the above areas of disobedience to some degree! Thank God for His abundant grace and mercy! Just because I may struggle with obedience at times does not mean I don’t love God… but in those moments of disobedience, I am saying, “I choose to love this (food, Facebook, comfort, myself, etc.) more than I love you, God. I’m NOT saying that a true Christian is void of sin and must ‘arrive’ at some level of obedience but what a true Christian is NOT is unwilling to be changed and humbled by their Savior in these and other areas. A true Christian recognizes the depravity of their own sin and their desperate need for Christ. A true Christ follower, will, when told by God’s Word that they are walking a sinful path, make at least some effort to turn in the opposite direction and get away from that sin in obedience and love for God. Beth Moore says it like this, “Obedience does not mean sinlessness but confession and repentance when we sin. Obedience is not arriving at a perpetual state of godliness but perpetually following hard after God. Obedience is not living miserably by a set of laws but inviting the Spirit of god to flow freely through us so the power to be victorious comes from God and not from us. Obedience is learning to love and treasure God’s Word and see it as our safety.” Obedience means giving God authority to rule ALL of our lives, not just the parts that are easier to hand over. Obedience and full surrender is the ONLY path to freedom. Beth Moore shares, “our liberation is expressed as a reality only in the places of our lives where the free Spirit of God is released. We are free when, and only when, He is in control.” In a nut shell, being a Christian means an intentional pursuit of Christ likeness and full surrender.
1 John 2:6 says, “the one who says he abides in Christ ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked.”
Ephesians 4:22 says, “in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,
Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away.”
I think we sometimes do the repenting part of Acts 3:19 but then we don’t take the “turning back” part seriously! God doesn’t ask us to turn from our sins out of some controlling motivation or in an effort to steal our fun. He asks us to obey because He knows it’s the only path to freedom. Because he loves us, he wants to get rid of anything in the way of that.
You see, if we aren’t laying aside our old selves, walking as Jesus walked, forgetting what lies behind, and turning away from our sin, we are just like my friend driving straight to Colorado out of the stubbornness of her heart. Repenting but not turning away from your sin, is like if my friend who, after realizing she’s been driving in the opposite direction of Florida, says, “oh my goodness, I’m so sorry I’m going the wrong way,” and after saying that, continues to drive toward the snowcapped mountains! It’s absurd and defeats the whole purpose of what Christ did on the cross. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t willingly give his life on the cross for someone to say, “Jesus, I’m a sinner, forgive me,” and then continue on with life as usual as if nothing had even occurred!
Beth Moore puts it this way in her ‘Breaking Free’ Bible Study,
“Without God’s intervention we all tend to be a bit pigheaded. We want to boss ourselves. Sometimes we are unwilling to listen to God because we are resistant to being corrected, redirected, or challenged to change. That is rebellion. What we often don’t realize is that bossing ourselves is a ticket to spiritual slavery. Rebelling against God is rebelling against freedom. Each of the following phrases characterizes rebellion. We all struggle with rebellion on some level. We have to be able to identify our areas of rebellion before we can be set free of them. A rebellious child of God:
1. Doesn’t act like a child of God (doesn’t exhibit spiritual fruit like love, joy peace patience, kindness, humility, self-control, etc.).
2. Isn’t willing to listen to the Lord’s instruction (prefers their own opinion or way above God’s).
3. Prefers pleasant illusions over the truth (has the tendency to agree with public opinion or someone who will tell them what their itching ears want them to hear above what God says may convict them of sin or of a truth they don’t agree with).
4. Relies on oppression (someone so comfortable or stubborn in their own way and sin that they depend on it above depending on God).
Can you think of a specific area or example where you can tend to be pigheaded toward God?
If God has revealed an area of rebellion to you, don't keep driving to the snow capped mountains this time!
Remove yourself from the throne of your life so that God can take his rightful place. To do this, takes daily acts of obedience. It takes a dedication to God and His Word and full surrender. Give God full authority over your moments so you can make it to your milestone of freedom. Obedience leads to freedom and a life that reflects the peace, purpose and abundance Jesus wants to give you.
Turn the car around and head back to Him! You won't regret it!
"let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:1-2
Stephanie Parker has three main loves: God, her husband, Brett and her kids! When Stephanie created the Zipadee-Zip in an effort to solve her daughter, Charlotte's, sleep issues, she never imagined that it would become a business. She is incredibly grateful to God for how Sleepingbaby.com has grown and how it has enabled other families to get the restful sleep they need. Stephanie's husband, Brett Parker assumed the role of CEO which has allowed Stephanie to focus on what she loves which is the creative side of the company, like product and print development. After the Zipadee-Zip was featured on Shark Tank, Stephanie went on to create the book Shepherd's Treasure, a Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf. In her free time, Stephanie loves to spend time with her family and friends. Her hobbies include acting, singing, painting, learning and speaking foreign languages and going on adventures with her family! You will find her all summer waterskiing, fishing and laughing with her family on the weekends.