Monday, February 17, 2014

My Lips Are Yours But My Heart Belongs To Me

There is an illness in the Church which causes half-heartedness in those who would be the children of Yahweh. It is an illness that allows obedience in some areas of the heart but disobedience in others. It is an obedience of convenience but whenever it becomes inconvenient disobedience and rebellion set in, but not in a way that disturbs the obedient parts. And so we lie to ourselves and say "I am a Christian".

Yet, to be a Christian is to be like Jesus and nowhere in the Scriptures do I find where Jesus served the Father half-heartedly. He came in full obedience. He served in full obedience. He died in full obedience. His entire purpose was obedience to the Father's will. He set for us an example and told us to do the same.

It is not dependent on how you feel. It is not dependent on what you think. It is not dependent on your desires and whims. It does not matter if you agree or disagree. It does not matter if it costs you little or much. It does not matter if it ends your life. To be a Christian, a child of Yahweh, a follower of Jesus Christ requires obedience until your very last breath.

Certainly, celebrate and worship the Lord for all his benefits and goodness. Cry out in your distress. Receive his comfort and strength. But understand, at the end of the day, what our Father is looking for from us is obedience born of our love for him. He does not want to hear the words "I love you" from our lips when our heart is filled with rebellion. Disobedience is rebellion. Willing to do what you agree with while ignoring what you disagree with is rebellion. Half-heartedness is rebellion. Let's turn to the Hebrew Scriptures for a minute.

There was one king in Israel that showed some promise after a long line of evil kings. His name was Jehu and the Lord had raised him up to bring about the promised punishment on the family of Ahab. He was so filled with zeal for the Lord that he destroyed not only the family of Ahab but anyone who was connected with that family. He put his motivation into words:

“Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.” (2 Kings 10:16)

From this zeal he found strength to move on from the family of Ahab to also wipe out the Baal worship in Israel, killing all the priests and destroying the Baal temple. It looked like he was on the path to great reform in the kingdom of Israel so that they might join with Judah in the worship of Yahweh. Yahweh even made a promise to him because of his obedience:

“Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” (v. 30)

But Jehu could not manage to maintain the singleness of heart and his zeal waned. He fell into the sin of Jeroboam and worshiped the twin calves which had been set up to keep Israel from Yahweh:

But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin. (v. 31)
Yahweh ended up starting the demise of Israel under Jehu, handing over sections of it to surrounding kingdoms. Like so many kings before him, Jehu started off well but ended poorly. The Hebrew Scriptures are filled with such examples, warning us of the importance of obedience. It is not enough to make a decision for Jesus, to call him Saviour; we must also walk in his ways every day for the rest of our life. There are times we will fail but when our heart is right, when we desire to be obedient, and we repent when we fail, his grace covers us and he picks us up again. You see, with obedience comes an unending flow of blessings but disobedience brings curses. What fools we are to choose to serve the Lord half-heartedly instead of with the zeal of obedience.

Jesus warned us time and again, directly and through parables, that true love provokes obedience and obedience to the Father is of utmost importance. When the question is,"who will you serve", don't allow your response to be from your lips and not a fully surrendered heart. Let it end as brilliantly as it began. Stay strong and run the race to win it.

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