Passion or Obedience?

At the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in August, a guy named Dave Gibbons said, “Obedience is more important than passion.” As I think about this statement, he is exactly right and has hit head on what is wrong with so many Christians today. Let me explain. Yesterday I went running for the first time in 8 days, and I was actually nervous before I took off because I knew it was going to hurt, and hurt bad it did. I told Becca how much I was dreading it beforehand, and I even skipped my run yesterday after much deliberation because I knew it would be painful. But if you ask me if I am passionate about staying in shape and if I care about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, my answer would be “of course.”

The first thing I said to Becca when I got back from my run last night was, “That’s what I hate about life, and the Christian life particularly.” What I meant by that is if you take even one week off from being disciplined, it is that much harder to get back into the healthy habit. My time was almost 40 seconds off pace from what I had worked up to, and I was beat after just 2 miles of running. The same goes for us spiritually as well, though. It doesn’t take much time at all to lose your concentration on Christ and fall back into a destructive and sinful pattern. This is why grace is necessary through the death and resurrection of Jesus. But to simply rest in that idea would be contrary to everything Scripture calls us to. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” This does not sound like someone that is content with resting in the fact that he is a sinner saved by grace so we can continue in sin and darkness.

I often think of a quote by Oswald Chambers when I think of this subject. He says, “If a person wants scientific knowledge, then intellectual curiosity must be his guide. But if he desires knowledge and insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ, he can only obtain it through obedience.” What he is saying is similar to what Gibbons said at the Leadership Summit: “Obedience is more important than passion.” This means that you can have the same affectionate feelings towards God all along, yet be no further down the road of discipleship than the day you first decided to follow him. This means you can be excited about who Christ is, but not be any closer to looking like him yourself. So I would ask you and I, where have we slipped recently when it comes to living a disciplined life? Have you recently examined the things that you tend to shrug your shoulders at and refuse to be obedient in? Have you wondered why you have not been growing spiritually lately? Have you thought about the idea that these two things are possibly connected? Hopefully we can realize the areas in our life where have taken our focus off of Christ, and hopefully we can make the decision to restart the dreadfully painful, yet fruitful, process of becoming disciplined yet again.

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