I am often jealous of Christians I meet who seem to be best friends with God. I’ve wondered how I can grow this friendship for myself. I’ve come to the conclusion that the secret to friendship with God is learning to obey Him: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). The trouble is I’m just not great at the whole ‘obeying’ thing. It’s always a battle.
The story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22) has always fascinated me. God says:
“Kill your son – the one that you love.”
Can you imagine? Yet the next morning Abraham got up, took Isaac and set off to sacrifice him. My question is: what went through his mind that night? What did he think about as he lay in the tent watching his son sleep peacefully? My bet is he thought of the same three reasons not to obey God that often, come to me:
Reason 1: God sounds like He’s crazy
“You want me to do what now? You want me to kill who? Isaac, the son I’ve been waiting 25 years for?”
There have been moments God has told me to do things that sound crazy. They make no rational sense. Try this one for size: love your enemies. I don’t have many ‘enemies’ but I remember a while ago a guy in the street started on me for no reason. I wanted to kick his head in. Loving, forgiving, being kind, these are all so easy until we meet someone we don’t like, love or respect. That’s when they suddenly become impossible. “You can’t be serious God… him? Her? But haven’t you seen…”
And yet, with God crazy is often part of the game plan. We follow a crucified God, remember?
Reason 2: It will hurt someone I love
In Abraham’s case it would obviously hurt Isaac. In mine, I don’t want to hurt people close to me. This can lead me to compromise – I’d rather offend God much of the time because I know He’s forgiving and invisible so he’s not so obviously present. But Jesus tells us we are to put him before even our closest family (Luke 14:26).
Reason 3: I can see no benefit; only a cost
When Abraham first set out after God (Genesis 12) he had to leave everything. But he got a promise – to become the father of many. With this sacrifice there is nothing but a cost in front of him – he is killing the son of promise. God wants to take each of us to a place where we are willing to sacrifice for no reason other than His orders. This is called laying down our lives. Another way of putting it is carrying our cross.
If you are in a situation where any of these reasons apply, take a look at Abraham, take a look at God, and think again about whether you are going to obey.
Image by Andreas Sohns, via stock.xchng images.