What’s wrong with biblical obedience?

In today’s My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes: “In Christian work the initiative is too often the realization that something has to be done and I must do it.”

I must confess that this “realization” is usually the motivation for what I do throughout the day. A Daily Article or blog must be written; tweets must be sent; media interviews must be conducted; sermons must be written and preached; meetings must be held.

Chambers continues, however: “That is never the attitude of the spiritual saint.”

This is surprising.

Doing what we are called to do would seem the very definition of biblical obedience. Mother Teresa made famous the assertion that God measures success by such faithfulness. All through Scripture we find people doing what God called them to do and being affirmed in so doing.

However, Chambers explains: the aim of the “spiritual saint” is “to secure the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in.” The work we do for God is but the means to the end of knowing God and then making him known.

This changes everything.

God’s purpose for me in writing this blog is first to meet God through the work of writing this blog, and only then to share with you what he shares with and through me. God’s purpose in my next Daily Article, sermon, or media interview is the same: to meet Jesus in that work and only then to make him known.

Western culture, with its distinctions between the soul and the body, the sacred and the secular, not only divides work from worship but reverses the order. Even when our work is “sacred,” we are tempted to do it in secular ways for secular purposes: to finish the task, to please the congregation, to gain more readers. And we are tempted to do it in secular ways, doing what we can do for God and expecting him to bless our efforts.

God’s eternal purposes, by contrast, always focus on the eternal. He is therefore far more interested in who I am in Christ than in what I can do for Christ. The former defines my eternal relationship with my Father; the latter may be temporal and temporary.

Here’s the bottom line: In the “spiritual” and “secular” things we do, let’s do them first to meet Jesus. Let’s ask him to speak to us in what we are doing and how we are doing it. Let’s spend our work days communing with him in prayer and consciously practicing his presence. Let’s seek to learn more about Jesus as we learn to know him and then make him known.

When we do, we will find him to be our companion on every road we travel (cf. Luke 24:15), the light in every room we enter (John 1:5). As we know him, we will be changed by him.

And changed people change the world.