Obey: Part 2
Read: Mark 5:1-20 & Mark 6:53-56
What does obedience to God look like? Obedience to God looks different for every believer because we are all on a unique path. For some, obedience looks like taking a new job. For others, it looks like turning down a new job. For some, obedience looks like packing up and moving away. For others, it looks like staying put. Of course, there are certain instances where obedience will always look the same for everyone. God has given us His law, and obeying it is never optional for anyone. But aside from these statutes, there are times in your walk where God may ask you to do something very specific, such as when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It won’t be a general command to everyone; it will be unique to the path God has placed you on.
In Mark 5, we read the story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed man. This man’s situation was grim. He would go into violent fits of rage. The people in the town tried to bind him up with chains (presumably to protect him from harming himself and others), but he could not be bound. Eventually, he was exiled from his community and forced to live alone in a graveyard up in the hills. Jesus meets him, and we learn that he doesn’t have just one demon inside of him, but many. He refers to himself as Legion. A Roman legion was six thousand men. That’s a lot of demons! But, as we know, no amount of demons is a match for Jesus.
Jesus sends the demons out of the man and into a herd of about two thousands pigs. The demons cause the pigs to go into a frenzy and jump into the sea. This whole ordeal sends the townspeople into a panic. They’ve had enough drama for one day, and they all beg Jesus to leave. Everyone, that is, except for the man who was healed. This man, who once had no control over his body and now sits calmly and peacefully, has extreme gratitude for Jesus. He may not totally understand what happened, but he knows he wants to be around Him. As Jesus is about to leave, the man begs to come along with Him. But Jesus tells him no. He tells him to stay put and spread the news of what God did for him. And you know what? The man obeys. In fact, he couldn’t shut up about Jesus!
This story teaches us three things about obedience:
1. Pursuing our own good intentions is not always obedience. This man wanted to go with Jesus. That was a good desire. But our good desires are not always what God desires for us. In the case of the disciples, obedience meant dropping everything and following Jesus. But in this man’s case, obedience was the exact opposite. He was to stay. Jesus had a unique mission for him to fulfill. As we walk with God, we must differentiate our will from God’s will. We may come up with all sorts of good plans for our lives that are rooted in a sincere desire to do big things for God. But just because something seems good doesn’t mean it’s what God is asking us to do. We must continually seek God’s plans for our life. If His plans do not match up to ours, then we must abandon ours for His. At times it won’t make sense, but we can be confident that His plans are better than ours.
2. A grateful heart makes obedience easier. We don’t obey God because we’ve been blessed. We obey God because He is God and we are not. But if we are struggling with obedience, it may be helpful to remind ourselves of all the blessings we have. The man who was healed from the demons was extremely grateful to Jesus. That’s why he wanted to follow Him. But if Jesus wanted him to stay, that’s what he would do. Obedience flowed out of his grateful heart. A good practical example of this is in the area of finances. Are you having trouble being obedient with what God is asking you to give? Just think about all you have been blessed with, and you can’t help but be generous.
3. Our obedience blesses others. If God is asking you to do something, you can be sure that your obedience will matter to others. Jesus had a reason for wanting the man he healed to stay behind. The story picks back up in Mark 6:53 when Jesus returns to this town. The last time Jesus was there, He was run out. But now the people welcome Him and bring the sick to Him. Why the change of heart? Because the man did what Jesus told him to do. Jesus left one man in charge of telling the whole town the good news. The man was faithful, and his faithfulness mattered a great deal. Many other sick people were healed by Jesus because of this one man’s obedience.
What does obedience to God look like? It looks like saying yes to God on His terms, not ours. It looks like being willing to put aside our plans, however noble they may seem, to pursue His. There are no small acts of obedience. Every act matters. If God tells you to move to the other side of the world and start a church, He will be honored by it. If He tells you to give a granola bar to a hungry person, He will be honored by it. Our obedience matters because it has an eternal significance to the building of God’s kingdom.
1) Have you ever wanted to do something for God, but He had a different plan in mind? Did you follow God’s plan or yours? Did you eventually see why God laid out His plan for your life?
2) Are you struggling in any way to obey what God is calling you to do with the Second Stories initiative? If so, how can you remind yourself of all the blessings God has given to you?
3) How might your obedience during this season of life bless others?
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