Happy and blessed 2018!
I started my year with some light reading…just kidding, I am re-reading Oswald Chambers’ devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” and as before, I am in awe at his ability to pack so much into such short messages. Today’s message is called “What my obedience to God costs other people” and the highlighted scripture is Luke 23: 26 When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in [to the city] from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.
Oswald Chambers goes on to make this profound statement: “If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the profound sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it’s a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it, ‘You call this Christianity?’ We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be paid.”
Going back to the scripture from Luke 23…I have never considered Simon’s perspective until this morning. If it was me I would have been terrified. I would be asking myself whether I would be able to carry the weight of the cross, and if I wasn’t, was I going to be beaten too? I would consider people’s opinion of me. They might be asking themselves why was I chosen for this task? They might wonder what the soldiers knew that they didn’t. Would this impact my business? Would anyone want to trade with me after this? What would my friends say? Might there be one of Jesus’ disciples who would rather be chosen and see it as an honour and resent me? In all honesty, I would have been grossed out by the gore on the wood…how would I get the blood stains out of my best outfit?
Jesus was obedient, regardless of the consequence to Simon, His disciples, His mother and every other person who had no choice but to stand by and watch in horror. For our sake He disregarded their pain, horror, bewilderment and feelings of helplessness. He did not for one second consider making their lives easier, easing the pain that His obedience brought on them but He kept His eyes focused on the consequence for not obeying the Father…the loss of His Bride. Jesus could prevent their suffering but He allowed the cost to Him, and them.
I don’t know what the Lord has for us this year, but I know that whatever it is, it will ask of us radical obedience and with radical obedience consequence will follow for those around us. Once we have set our heart on following Jesus and obeying the Father, it will be a joy to us but it might not be to our nearest and dearest. Their pain and bewilderment could be the very thing the enemy use to distract and derail us, when we refuse to be the one to bring suffering to our dear ones.
Oswald has some encouragement for the awful predicament we’ll find ourselves in when this happens. He says “We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be a grief to our Lord. Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to obey and leave the consequences with Him.”
For which one of you, when he wants to build a watchtower [for his guards], does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it? Luke 14:28 (AMP)
As we embark on the adventure that 2018 is going to be, let us set our hearts on obedience at any cost and trust the Lord to minister to those who feel hurt by our choice.