Did you ever start a project that took longer and became way more complicated than you expected? Most of us have found that sometimes things end up being harder than they need to be. Did you ever feel that way about being a Christian? At the heart of it, it shouldn’t be that complicated. You believe in God, you trust Him. You live your life the way He wants you to. Simple, right? But it never feels that way. It turns out way more complicated and difficult than you think it should.
John 13:31-38; John 14:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:7
When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:31-35
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus tells His disciples exactly what He wants from them. It turns out not to be all that complicated. In fact, it’s quite simple: LOVE. But it doesn’t stay simple. After Jesus gives what many Bible scholars believe is His 11th commandment, a series of conversations take place with three of His disciples. Not one of them really gets it. Each of them makes it more complicated than it needs to be. Their reaction to Jesus helps us recognize those ways we do the same and how we make following Christ more complicated than it should be. Peter’s response is selective. He wants to be a radical follower but only in the ways that he is comfortable with. Thomas is rigid and inflexible. He doesn’t want to have to follow Jesus without knowing ahead of time where He might lead. Philip is unconvinced even after all that he has seen in his time with Jesus. He’s asking Jesus for just one more sign in order to help him believe.
Do you ever remember being selective in your willingness to follow God? Do you find that you’re eager to do whatever Jesus asks or to only do the things you’re comfortable with? Do you need to have all your questions “answered” before you make the decision to obey God? When was the last time you asked God for “one more sign” before you did what he wanted you to do? Can you describe a time when you failed to keep the 11th commandment?
Examine your obedience factor on a scale of 1-10 and ask God to give you an accountability partner who will help you put into practice what you learned in this lesson.
Dear Lord, help me to learn from the disciples mistakes and not be selective about my obedience. Show me that I can follow Jesus daily without knowing what lies ahead and remind me that what I’ve seen of God already in my past can bolster my faith for what lies ahead in my future. In Jesus’ name, Amen.