4 Imperatives to Improving Obedience to Jesus

In the western part of the state of North Carolina lies a gorgeous town called, Asheville. My family and I love this town and vacation there every year or two. Home to amazing music and gorgeous scenery, there’s so much to love about Asheville.

My family and I were in Asheville recently and stopped to visit an awesome spot called Moog Music. In 1964 Dr. Robert Moog introduced an entirely new kind of instrument with the modular synthesizer. We played with some of the equipment as a family and had a lot of fun making the craziest sounds and looping tracks to create whatever music we could. We had a great time.

We were only in the store for around 45 minutes. In that amount of time there is very little that we fully understand about synthesizers. I’ll speak for myself; I don't understand how those crazy things work. It’s fascinating to me, truly. But to those who work at Moog Music with those synthesizers day in and day out, they understand every knob, button and dial at an intimate level. When one of these masters gets their hands on this machine, that synthesizer responds immediately and beautiful music is created.

50th Anniversary of the Moog Modular Synthesizer

50th Anniversary of the Moog Modular Synthesizer

If I could hope for one thing spiritually, it would be to experience Jesus at that level of intimacy. To be that responsive at the commands of Christ. That every twist of a dial in the hands of Jesus, transforms my life in brand new, unique ways. That the adventure of following Jesus never gets old because I am simply obedient to the One who was creative enough to design a universe. That’s what I want as a disciple of Jesus. And that’s the exact picture we get when Jesus says…

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5 NIV]

The image in the word “meek” is that of Roman horses that pulled chariots. When the driver of a chariot would pull the reins left, a meek horse would turn left immediately. Whether the command was to turn, slow down or speed up, the response was the same; immediate.

When one dial on a synthesizer is slightly rotated at the hand of a master, the instrument immediately shifts. Whether the dial was to amplify a sound or to bend the pitch, the response was the same; immediate.

When followers of Jesus are meek and responsive to the commands of Christ, lives are transformed and disciples are made. When the voice of God calls, when the rein is pulled or when Jesus is doing some fine tuning in our lives, the response should be the same; immediate.

Here is what I believe it looks like for disciples to live meek, immediate, responsive lives in the hands of Jesus.

Get Back to Lordship

Now that is not a word we like to use. So antiquated. So old school. So “religious.” We prefer in many ways the words of Ernest Hemingway.

I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.

Our confession of Jesus at baptism is, “I believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, my Lord and my Savior.” We love the Savior part. It’s that Lord part that gets a little tricky.

To put it bluntly, if you call Jesus “Lord,” you aren’t the master of anything. You are an unbelievable tool and master creation in the hands of an amazing God, but you aren’t the captain. May we all be mindful of pride taking root in our hearts. Pray and ask God to search your soul and to reveal any area of you that says, “I’m in control.” Beg God to root it out and destroy it so that you can be meek in the hands of the master. This is also my prayer.

play in the Dirt

Somewhere between the ages of five and nine, I remember playing outside. It was the ‘80’s, that’s just what we did. If you wanted to have fun, you went outside. One summer I decided that I wanted a pool in our backyard, but we couldn’t afford one. I decided to take it upon myself to make it happen. I broke a branch off a tree in our backyard, I lined up what I believed to be the middle of the yard, and I started digging with my stick. That was a very dirty day in which my jeans paid a heavy price.

In the Mishna, Avot 1:4, there is a great line about teachers (rabbis). It goes like this,

…and powder thyself in the dust of their feet.

The image is that we would be so close to our Rabbi, that we would be filthy with the dirt that flew off his sandals. If we aren’t experiencing Jesus that powerfully and passionately in our own lives, how can we even imagine that we could help someone else do the same?

A gut check for me is simply; am I dirty enough to be mistaken for a guy that’s been hanging out with Jesus? That’s what I want.

Don’t Get Dehydrated

Avot 1:4 continues about teachers.

…and drink their words with thirstiness.

The times I find it the most difficult to hear from Jesus, to be responsive to Him, to experience His power in my own life is when I step away from His words. When I start to think that I’m fully hydrated and I can go this week without drinking in the words of God.

Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.” (John 4:10 CSB) He goes on to say that He is the source of this living water.

  • When was the last time you heard God’s voice speak to you through Scripture?

  • When was the last time you were so filled after time with Christ in Scripture, that you couldn’t wait until you got to do it again?

  • When was the last time you raced to get out of bed to spend time with God in Scripture simply because you recognize what an incredible gift of God it really is?

These questions motivate me forward. To drink in the words of Jesus with thirstiness. To realize without them, I will simply dehydrate myself spiritually. Brothers and sisters, I beg you to not give up your quiet time with God. My prayer for each of us is that King Jesus will overflow you with His words and that you will drink with thirstiness.

Think Prescriptive, Not Descriptive

We are familiar with the person who says something like, “What kind of Bible studies does your church have?” Or, “Can we study Revelation in small group?” The answer, “No, Karen. We can’t.”

Many, not all, Bible studies have become synonymous with sitting in holy huddles and becoming full on knowledge, but empty on obedience.

  • Without obedience, there will never be a meek response to the commands of Jesus.

  • Without obedience, there will never be an immediate response to the twist of a dial that makes my heart sing and beat in rhythm with the very heartbeat of God.

  • Without obedience, there will never be boldness in the life of the disciple. Boldness is only boldness after someone is obedient, never before.

I don't want to read the Bible simply to learn new stuff about God. I want to read the Bible in a way that grips my soul. That drives me to a place that requires faith, obedience and boldness. That takes me beyond the borders of knowing more and into the deep unknown that requires faith and dependance on our Father.

So what does all of this mean for you?

1. Read Scripture with an eye toward obedience

  • What is God calling me to do right now?

  • What dial is God adjusting in me right this second?

  • How will I obey today?

2. Surrender afresh to the Lordship of Jesus

Take one minute and pray right now. Confess when you have made yourself lord of your life. Be honest with God about this and bring it into the light. When we bring things into the light, that is when God can do work and transform us from the inside out.

May we be meek to the commands of Christ, covered in the dust of His feet and drink in His words as if we will die without them.

Let’s take Kingdom territory!