Obeying can be a difficult concept for us to grasp. My wife and I have three children. Our oldest is nineteen, and our youngest are twin brother and sister, who are coming up on two years old. When either my wife or I tell our youngest daughter “No,” she seems to get it. Her brother on the other hand? He is at that stage, or maybe it’s his personality, that when we tell him not to do something, he looks at us and laughs. It isn’t an all out belly laugh like he does when he is being tickled. No, it’s more of a mischievous laugh. Sometimes it’s funny and we have to turn away to keep him from seeing us find humor in it. At other times it is frustrating. We are trying to instill in him the art of obedience so it won’t be more difficult as years go by. Even his twin sister will start scolding him and telling him, “No, no!”
For one of my college classes, I’m creating a Bible study from the Book of Acts. I chose Acts 8:1-40. It is in this passage that we see the acts of obedience and the results of obeying God.
Chapter 8 begins following the martyrdom of Stephen. The early Christians were facing intense persecution, and because of this, they were forced to flee from Jerusalem.
We are then introduced to a man named Philip. He was one of the first seven deacons, and one of the first Christians to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to other nations. Prior to this, the Gospel was only preached to the Jews.
Philip had a very successful ministry in Samaria. One could say he was comfortable. He didn’t need to do more. Don’t misunderstand me though. Philip wasn’t lazy by any means. He was where God had placed him for the moment, and he was content with the ministry God placed in his heart.
We are sometimes called out of our comfort zones. Sometimes it is profitable to be uncomfortable, as odd as that may sound. It is in these moments of being uncomfortable that we must ask what God is doing through that. Maybe it’s a job change. Perhaps more responsibility. In Philip’s case, God was about to call him from this successful ministry, and send him away. To Philip it would probably appear like a demotion, but through God’s providence, it would be anything but a step down.
So God tells Philip to leave his ministry in Samaria, and set out on this dirt road. I can only imagine what Philip was thinking as he packed his bags and left his home, friends, and comforts behind. The questions he must have asked God! But Philip obeyed. Off he went into the unknown. The result? An entire nation was exposed to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!
Obedience is hard. I shared the story of my son. Sometimes that disobedience comes with punishment. What would’ve happened if Philip crossed his arms, stomped his feet, and told God there was absolutely no way he was going to leave everything behind and head out down a long dirt road? Perhaps he would have been taught a lesson similar to that of Jonah. Maybe God would have punished his disobedience by bringing adversity into his life. Maybe death? We don’t know because Philip chose obedience to God.
In what areas of your life do you need to choose obedience? What is God calling you to do? Is it a job change? A lifestyle change? Perhaps He is telling you to leave your comfort zone and begin something totally new and courageous. I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty: If God is calling you to do something, it is because He has already laid the path out for you. He already has the plans in place to sustain you.
All you have to do is say “Yes.”