We are taking some time over the next several months to share some of the stories, situations, and meaning behind each of our Core Values and how these values have come to shape the ministry of Discovery Ministries. Commanded by Christ is our first Core Value.
By Leah Fuller
As a child, I received directives from my parents: “Leah, it’s time to get ready for bed; go brush your teeth.” “Leah, it’s your night to do the dishes.” Since I was such an obedient child, of course, I happily and immediately responded to my mother’s command every time--those of you who know me can stop laughing any time. Okay, in reality we all know that as young children grow, they begin to assert their own will from time to time, even most of the time. I wouldn’t immediately start getting ready for bed because what I wanted to do was keep playing with my toys. Playing was way easier than doing the dishes, too. At least that was what I thought until I felt the sting of the wooden spoon on my rear end. It has taken me a long time to realize that when my mother issued a command, she wasn’t being mean or bossy. No, she was inviting me into a life that exists beyond the confines of immediate gratification. In responding out of obedience, I was invited into the gift of surrender, relinquishing my right to remain in control. Typically, responding to my mother’s command ran counter to what felt normal and natural to me. Sometimes, it required more of me than I wanted to give. And yet, those commands were invitations into a deeper, fuller life.
Throughout the New Testament, we are challenged by the commands Jesus issues to us, His children. “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19). “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43). “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19). “Do not judge” (Matthew 7:1). “Do not be afraid!” (Matthew 14:27). “Get up, take our mat and go home” (Matthew 9:6). “Sell your possessions and give to the poor (Matthew 19:21). “Take up your cross” (Luke 9:23). These are not easy commands to obey because every command of Christ comes at a cost to us. It requires a sacrificial surrendering of our will, our possessions, our comfort, our lives of ease. And yet, His commands are rich with an invitation into something greater and more meaningful than we can fully comprehend in the moment.
Christ’s command invites us to surrender our human sufficiency. Consider the life that Jesus was inviting His disciples into when He sent them out in Matthew 10. Jesus sent these men to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (v. 8). For these ordinary men to perform any one of these tasks would require them to surrender their own human abilities and understanding to walk purely in the power Christ gave them. His command required them to leave behind any extra money, clothes, or provisions they might supply for themselves, guaranteeing they would depend on God’s providing all that they needed (v. 9-10). We expend great effort in life to keep things manageable and within the realm of what we can handle. Obeying the commands of Christ will require us to do things that are far bigger than anything we can handle on our own.
Christ’s command is counter-cultural. Jesus says in John 15:19 “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” A huge part of Jesus’ purpose in coming to this earth was to confront the darkness that exists in the world. His very presence caused the demons to shudder in fear and to flee. And His Spirit in His followers today confronts the darkness around us. It is no wonder that John started his gospel by claiming “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:4-5). Christ’s light in us confronts a world that is full of darkness. See for yourself. Go into a dark closet in your house and then turn on a flashlight. You will see the darkness flee. The rich young ruler encountered this counter-cultural message when Jesus told him to go and sell everything he had (Luke 18:18-29). Even though this man had obeyed the law since birth, he went away sad because Christ’s call to live counter-culturally threatened his entire lifestyle.
Christ’s command calls us into adversity. Jesus instructed the disciples: “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19). Notice that Jesus doesn’t use the word if. He is promising that they will be arrested. Not only that, but He will equip them to communicate His truth. He promised a few verses later “When you are persecuted…” (v. 23). He guaranteed that their lives would not be easy. Paul echoed these words when he encouraged the churches in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Adversity is not optional in Christ’s kingdom, and yet we would rather claim the promises of God from the comfort of our couch than actually face persecution, suffering, or adversity.
Being commanded by Christ is not an easy life. It requires obedience, surrender, sacrifice, and most of all love. Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35 “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.” Christ’s love compels us to receive His invitation into surrender, counter-cultural living, and adversity. We are compelled to look different from the world and yet also to go into the world “making disciples of all nations…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). This is the tension of being commanded by Christ. As we wrestle with what it means to receive His command and invitation, may we remember the promise of His presence. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Questions for Reflection:
How might Christ be calling you surrender your human self-sufficiency?
How might Christ be calling you to live counter-culturally?
How might Christ be calling you into adversity?
Prayerfully take some time to listen for specific ways God may be asking you to respond to His command as an invitation.
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.