Friday, January 15, 2016

God Before People

Monday's My Utmost for His Highest has been in the back of my mind all this week. In it there's a reflection on Luke 23:26, where it says that a man by the name of Simon was made to carry Jesus' cross. Oswald Chambers' spiritual excursus on this says, in part:
"If we obey God, it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the pain begins. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything--it is a delight. But to those who do not love Him, our obedience costs a great deal. If we obey God, it will mean that other people's plans are upset..."
This reminds me of the time when Jesus' family wanted to take him away from his work because they, or others, were saying that he was out of his mind (Mk 3:21). I also think of Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus about those who are "born of the Spirit" being moved or "blown" as if by an invisible wind, and the passage from First Corinthians 1-2 about spiritual wisdom that can't be accepted by ordinary human beings.  

How difficult it must be to be in relationship with someone who always puts God first. O.C. says there's pain in this, and great cost, and he warns believers not to worry too much about what others suffer because of how we live. O.C. writes:
"...We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but it will grieve our Lord. If, however, we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequence of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him..."
I can see how this applies as believers make choices that lead them to be alone with God at times, or as Spirit-led people refuse to rescue loved ones from every bad feeling. I remember examples of his from Jesus' life. People would sometimes look for him and he would go the opposite direction. There are instances when Jesus spoke without seeming to care how his hearers felt. And the fact is that if Jesus acted like that sometimes, so will we when we are led by the same Holy Spirit that inhabited Him.

It's hard to over-state how important this is. Many believers put such a premium on helping others feel good that they forget the commandment to love the LORD YOUR GOD with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength. That's the first and greatest commandment. Love for others always needs to come after--even when those others are near and dear to our hearts. And, because God is love, true love for others will follow. That love won't be a simpering, pandering, feel-good thing -- it'll be tough and strong -- as tough and strong as the perfect love of God.

Pray this through and see what God says about it to you.

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