March 26, 2013 by lellielieb
One of the biggest struggles I have had in the Christian life is with expecting obedience to bring prosperity. I was taught early in my Christian life that my part was to obey and that if I obeyed, God would prosper me. As a result, any time things went badly in my life I tried to turn up the obedience, to be more holy. This became a legalistic nightmare and led to pride, frustration, anger, and depression.
I know now that the calling of Jesus is to death. Death to self and death to my way. Death is the way to life. Death is the way to joy. I lay down my life and He gives it back to me made new and better. I also know that I cannot do this on my own. It is Christ who empowers me. He motivates me; He lives through me. I surrender. I have joy, but better than joy, I have Him.
I was reading in Deuteronomy this morning the promises of prosperity to the Israelites. They sound good. They sound simple. Do this, and this, and this, and I will bless you. Your barns will be full, your nation will be prosperous and respected. Of course, it never really happened. They couldn’t do it. Obedience sounds simple, but it’s not. They needed Jesus–just like me.
Then I read another passage in contrast, and I found something. This is what I read: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
When Jesus died for us, one of the things He did was to open the way for us to friendship with Him. Friendship with God! This is what we get for our obedience today. We still can’t obey on our own. He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us. I have a new position as the friend of Jesus. He shares His plan with me. I am even a part of the plan; I can help to change the world. I like the idea of being a friend rather than a servant, but I think it might be harder. The truth is that friends serve, too. Friends serve in knowledge. Friends share the burden as they serve. I need to chew on this today some more, think it through, work it out. I’m excited. I love reading the Old and New Testaments side by side. Thank you, Jesus for calling me Your friend. I’d rather be Your friend than have a barn-full.