Obedience and the Journey
We continue our Lenten season journey to the Cross. In this study, we discussed the meaning of obedience to God. Obedience is discerning what God wants and choosing to seek that outcome. Our response of obedience flows from a heart that hears God’s voice and feels God’s love. It is a matter of choosing and turning to Him versus the lusts of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
The hallmark of obedience is modeled by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ especially as He journeyed to the Cross. Jesus demonstrated for us “perfected” obedience by His humility, His faithfulness, and His submission to God’s will.
We decided that obedience was both the outcome of our faith walk and the means by which spiritual maturity is accomplished. We “perfect” (bring to fruition) our obedience through the Holy Spirit and practicing spiritual disciplines that conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). We daily accept the “obedience challenge” by exercising our freedom in Christ rather than being disobedient slaves to sin.
Let go of the ego!
As we perfect our obedience, probably the most difficult part of our journey is our willingness to “let go.” Letting go requires releasing those things that cause us to be independent of God and operate outside the will of God.
Letting go necessitates that we pray often, wait expectantly, and trust unequivocally. When we “let go and let God”, the results are always more than we can accomplish in our own power (1 Cor. 2:9). Much of the difficulty in “letting go,” often times, lie in our inability to “let go of our ego.”
What’s with the ego?
Ego, in this case, is not an exaggerated sense of self-importance but the use of “fleshly” knowledge and “human” effort to accomplish God’s purpose. This is often the case when we endeavor to live righteous and holy lives in our own power. Some of us attempt to do this by “works”: we visit the sick, feed the hungry, and do all the things we think will please the Lord.
Some of us become “masters of spiritual disciplines”: we read our Bible every day, fast and pray, and tithe ten percent. Regardless of our approach, we “miss the mark” using fleshly methods to create spiritual outcomes. In Philippians 3:4-5, the Apostle Paul, confesses his attempt to live holy by operating out of his flesh.
Even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
Interestingly the pronoun “I”, in the passage above, in Greek is translated “ego.” Paul’s failure was not due to lack of works or poor self-discipline; nor was it the result of a poor attitude or “stinking thinking.” Paul attempted to do the work and will of God in his own strength. What was the best solution for Paul’s dilemma? He declared his faith and dependence on Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:7-9). Paul “let go his ego” and chose to obediently follow God.
Preparation for Holy Week
As we prepare for Holy Week, let us consider the journey through the lens of obedience. To help us with this exercise, take time to meditate on Philippians 3:8 (NRSV).
I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
When we meditate, we “focus our thoughts” (versus daydreaming). We invite the Holy Spirit to join us. There can be no meditation without His presence. Below are three (3) simple methods of meditation you can try.
Meditation method #1: Emphasize different words in the text.
Meditation method #2: Rewrite the text in your own words.
Meditation method #3: Formulate a principle from the text. What does it teach?
Don’t rush this exercise. Spend time re-reading and focusing on each word. Give attention to the verse, each phrase, and words included in this scripture. Remember, all Scripture is the inspired word from God (2 Tim. 3:16). Take time to hear not only what God is saying to Paul but also, what is God saying to you.
Journal what you learn from your meditation—about God, the Gospel, your ego, and yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to show how you can practice obedience as you daily journey to the Cross.
 Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitley.