Jimmy-Joe-Bob is standing in the kitchen, where the stove is still hot from what his wife cooked a few moments before. Without thinking, he puts his hand on the burner.
What would happen next? Assuming Jimmy-Joe-Bob has a healthy body, the nerves in his hand would feel the heat, sending that message to the brain. And his brain would respond by sending the messages needed for his muscles to yank his hand off the hot burner. There may also be hopping and yelling involved, all within nanoseconds of contact.
But what if that whole series of events went like this:
JJB’s hand as it makes contact with the burner: “Oh, brain, this is hot!”
The brain receives the message and instantly responds with all the things that JJB needs to do.
JJB’s hand: “Hmmm. Seems like the brain wants me to remove myself from this heat. But I am not sure. I will definitely need to make that a matter of some thought and prayer. I have to weigh the pros and cons of responding. I may offend someone if I do that. Or it might be uncomfortable. I’ll get back to you, brain, with my decision.”
And meanwhile, the smell of burning flesh fills the air.
In a healthy body, it would never go down like that! The hand would instantly respond to the brain without any kind of back talk, analysis or indecision.
Now take a small leap with me here…
The Bible uses the human body as an analogy of Christ and the Church. Jesus is the head of the body. We are the body parts, accomplishing what the Head tells us to do. Each one of us who claims the name of Christ is automatically part of the body, put under the authority of the Head.
And as we grow, learn and develop as believers, we learn that there are certain actions that the Head requires. In fact, you could call these things “the will of God for my life”. And they are to be as automatic as yanking your hand away from the hot stove. The response should instantaneous, immediate obedience.
Sharing your faith.
It is a command given by Jesus. “Go and make disciples of all nations. Teach them what I have taught you. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Very clear cut instructions.
Should be like a nerve pulse sent along to the hand.
So I am talking with an unsaved friend.
There are several places in the conversation where I can share my faith.
And I can feel the Holy Spirit nudging me.
But instead of instant nerve-impulse obedience, I shut it down with silent backtalk.
The Head says, “Tell her I love her.”
And I (the hand) say, “Well, but she might think I am weird.”
The Head says, “But if you don’t tell her, who will? She is heading for eternity without Me. She needs to know I love her.”
And I (the hand) say, “Well, surely there are more qualified people. She might have questions I can’t answer.”
The Head says, “Let me worry about that. I will guide your conversation, bring back to mind what you do know, give you wisdom in the moment. And it is OK to tell her you are still learning yourself. But she needs to know I love her.”
And I (the hand) say, “I’m going to ignore you now. This is out of my comfort zone.”
My friend and I part ways. I have not shared the love of Jesus with her. I have not even invited her to church, a very simple, safe thing to do. I have not shared what God has done in my life – another simple way to witness. I have not even asked her how I can be praying for her – a great way to start a conversation.
We have parted ways and I, the hand, am now scarred because of my lack of obedience.
I don’t notice the scarring at first.
But my prayer life feels stilted.
I wonder if God is listening.
I even wonder if He is real.
Because I don’t see Him at work in my life.
And I wonder why.
And that is just one of the examples of the things that are in the Bible that should be matters of instant obedience for all parts of The Body.
Because most of God’s will for our lives is revealed in the pages of Scripture.
Praising Him, declaring His worth, exalting Him in my words, actions and attitudes – that which we call “worship” – should be as autonomic in my spiritual life as my heartbeat is in my physical. I don’t have to request that the Head keep my heart beating. I just need to let it beat. Not block it. Not let anything break the connection between myself and my Head. No sin. No stray thoughts that become patterns that become actions that violate Him.
Talking to Him, staying in constant communication, inviting Him into my day and sharing it with Him – that which we call “prayer” – should be as autonomic in my spiritual life as breathing is in my physical. I don’t use special methods to keep breathing – I just do it. And I don’t use special words, clothes, circumstances or people in my prayer life. I just do it. In and out. Breathing out my needs, inhaling His goodness. Over and over again throughout my day.
Eating throughout the day, sometimes a nibble, sometimes a hearty meal, sometimes taking in the things I “should” like veggies, other times enjoying the sweetness of dessert – that which we call “time in the Word of God” – should be in my life as often as I open my mouth to take in food. A healthy person is careful to eat. They eat when they are hungry, reaching for good, nourishing food. They drink when they are thirsty, reaching for water to quench what is dry. In my spiritual life, I ask God to make me hungry for Him. And then I reach for His Word, chewing it over and allowing its nutrients to make a difference in my life. I ask Him to make me thirsty for Him, and I reach for Living Water, allowing Him to fill me up and to slake my thirst.
When any of those things becomes unhealthy – heartbeat, breathing, or the digestive system – the body has major problems.
And because we do not practice instant obedience, The Body has major problems.
We leave the sharing of faith to “the professional Christians” while our neighbors head for a Christ-less eternity.
We leave the worship to “the good Christians”, while we fill our lives with idols, ranging from sports to money, from fame to perfectionism, from buying stuff to losing ourselves in video games.
We leave the prayer to the people with “the right words”, while our lives have “a form of godliness but deny its power” (2 Timothy 3:5)
We don’t bother to eat or drink from the Bread of Life or the Living Water except for what we get spoon fed by pastors, teachers and blog-writers.
And then we wonder why The Body of Christ looks just like the rest of the world.
Why we aren’t making an impact.
Why our lives really don’t look or feel any different from our unsaved friends and family.
Why God feels distant.
And our faith feels powerless.
Do the 99% of the will of God found in His Word.
Fight to make it an automatic, autonomic response.
Obey in the little things.
Show up to the life of faith and make it a priority.
Connect with other believers.
Grow in your personal faith.
Serve God and others.
Share your faith.
And watch The Body transform.
And, as The Body actually obeys The Head, the world will be changed.
That’s a guarantee straight from The Source.