The Jewish believers selectively obeyed the law and certain traditions and this gave them grounds to elevate themselves over others. But I don’t think this kind of selective obedience only applies to them.
I bet among the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, for every zealous Jew, there was an equal number, if not more, of Jews who just wanted to maintain the status quo. In one way or another, don’t we all selectively obey only what we want to obey?
It’s buffet spirituality. We pick and choose what we want to accept from the Bible and narrowly define what principles actually affect our lives.
People who only obey selectively won’t really feel their need for Jesus because they’ve managed to create their own version of religion that works for them. I like this verse. That applies to me. I like that passage. But this one over here, I don’t like that. And we gloss over it. And when we are stuck in our own self-made religious paradigms, we won’t really need Jesus because our religion is always within our control, it is safe, familiar and comfortable.
Maybe we started out trying to live for Jesus wholeheartedly but we failed or we were disappointed, we hit some bumps in the road and we feel like God let us down. And because of these kinds of past experiences, we become resistant to any form of change. We prefer the status quo. We get comfortable and we just don’t want to change because change is always scary and costly.
When we are young, the world was our canvas. The possibilities were endless. You had your entire lives in front of you. And every dream was worth entertaining. And people who were older and wiser advised you to shoot for the stars because you haven’t reached your full potential.
But something weird happens as we get older. Like a balloon, we just deflate over time. Because life has a way of sucking the life out of us. And our lives actually shrink. And our dream becomes punier and punier. We become risk averse because we already took some risks in the past and they didn’t pay off. And we have mouths to feed and bills to pay and we lose our sense of vision and imagination.
And when this kind of mentality hits us spiritually, we are in a heap of trouble. We start to be selective in our obedience toward the Word of God. And we only end up obeying the things that we like to do from the Bible or that come naturally to us. And feeling secure and in control become the governing principles of our lives, not what God says. And ultimately, we stop trying to live radically for God.
Jackie works in Human Resources and she told me that there are various training courses that are offered in her company. A new course is “Change Management” because people who are in a period of transition within a company display how resistant to change they are because it makes people feel insecure, threatened and feel less competent. Not surprisingly, these courses were given during a period of layoffs at her company.
So there is this diagram called a “Transition Curve” and it graphically shows a curve and along that curve, there are different emotions/reactions people go through when they are confronted with the need to change from what they had been doing inside a company.
Change hits and some experience anxiety, some experience happiness, some experience relief, for some, fear creeps in, others feel threatened and these are all different reactions to change.
Some respond in a positive way toward change, they accept the challenge and they begin to move forward.
What I found interesting is the negative response to change. Instead of embracing change, some become disillusioned. And once you hit that stage, it’s just a matter of time before you say, this isn’t for me, I’m out of here! And they leave the company.
Isn’t this the same choice that all of us have when we meet Jesus? Either we throw away our religion and embrace Jesus as our new standard. And our lives change. That’s one path.
The other path is to rid of Jesus. Because we don’t want to change. We don’t need Jesus because we have our religion. We stick to what we are good at or what is comfortable for us.
And I believe deep down inside, we know the choice is obvious. I have to make Jesus my new standard. I fix my eyes on Him. I am not saying anything new. If you’ve been a Christian a while and you have been attending this church for some time, then you know Jesus is our Savior and He’s our Lord.
There is no picking and choosing. He tells us what to do and we obey. He leads, we follow. We do whatever He asks of us. Total surrender and total obedience.