How Should We Think About the Difficult Commands of Jesus? - Radical
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How Should We Think About the Difficult Commands of Jesus?

Why does Jesus make so many commands that seem impossible to obey? Why do I feel guilt about not abandoning my life and home to be an overseas missionary? In this video, David Platt counsels Christians on how to practically obey Jesus’ difficult commands in their daily lives. Each Christian has been granted a diverse, unique calling, which they are called to obey, some of which are more difficult than others. For other Christians, their calling is in a ‘secular’ vocation, and in that vocation, they are called to daily faithfulness, doing work that glorifies God and makes the best use of the talents and abilites He grants. Because God gives each person a unique calling, Christians should not get in a trap of obedience comparison, but rather should seek to encourage fellow believers in their obedience to God’s calling.

  1. Diverse Callings
  2. Callings as Obedience
  3. Daily Faithfulness
  4. Avoiding Comparison

So that’s kind of radical or following Christ, applied to where you live, your home. How would that play out in the workplace, like your calling, your career vocation? How does forsaking all to follow Christ fit with that?

Making Disciples is a Difficult Command of Jesus

That’s a great question. So we think about, here’s the way I’m thinking in my mind when I think of, you used the word calling. There are commands that we have in scripture, commands from Christ that are for us all. And obviously, there are so many, but take for example, making disciples. Make disciples, that’s a command from Christ.

That’s not a calling for a select few to do. It’s not. All of us have the spirit of God in us to be witnesses to the gospel. And so, we are making disciples, all of us commanded. Now calling, where calling comes in, is how we carry out that command. So the Lord has called me to pastor, specifically to pastor The Church at Brook Hills. And so, the way this command plays out in my life looks different the way it plays out in your life, as not pastor of The Church at Brook Hills.

And so in different vocations, these are different in different families, neighborhoods, geographic areas, vocations, whatever it might be. God calls us to different places, to do different things with different gifts and different skills. But they’re all, all of this calling is he wants us to carry out his commands. And so calling is the way we carry out those commands. And so this is where I want to encourage folks to look honestly at the commands of Christ and to say, “How can I best carry out the commands of Christ where I live, where he has put me, with the gifts and skills and resources he’s entrusted to me?”

And so then we begin to see that, I mean, success in this whole picture revolves around obedience. Not, “Okay, have I done this or this or this?” Kind of false checklists we create out here. But no, following after Christ involves faithfulness to what he has commanded us to do, where he’s called us to do it. And so that’s where I think sometimes people even get ideas like, okay, college students think, “Well, if I’m really going to be radical, then I need to leave college or just study the Bible in college and then go overseas in missions.” Or business persons might think, “Well, if I’m really going to be radical, then that means selling my business and going into ministry.”

We Can Make Disciples Anywhere

Well, the Lord may lead some to do that. I’m confident he probably will lead some people to do that. But I think it’s a much greater picture when people say, so college student says, “I’m in college and I’ve got gifts and skills in this particular area. And so I’m going to study hard and I’m going to get a good degree. And I’m going to learn a marketable skill that I can then work for the glory of God here, or maybe work for the glory of God in an unreached place on the other side of the world, or anywhere in between. But I’m going to carry out this command and make disciples of all nations, with this gift and skill he has given me.”

God has put so many people in workplaces, in neighborhoods, in parts of the world, and he’s leading us into more parts of the world, where we can carry out this command. So we give ourselves the command. So that’s making disciples. I think the same thing about 1 Timothy 6. Okay, we’ve got a command to be generous, be willing to share godliness with contentment [inaudible 00:03:39] so that picture. Okay, so now what does that look like in my life? So is everybody called to sell all their possessions and give them all to the poor? Well, clearly not, we’re not commanded to do that in scripture.

Now some might be called, but the way we play out that command in our lives, we need to honestly look at, okay, and then with my possessions … We need a whole Secret Church on this, because this is one of those things where I sense concern. Okay, we need a biblical theology of possessions that’s informing the way we use our money in a materialistic culture.

There’s so much, so we dove into just texts from Old Testament, New Testament, came away with conclusions. And all that’s on the Radical site. But anyway, to help people think through, here’s the commands, now pray through in your life, in your family, honestly pray through how these commands play out.

Yeah, so with what you’re saying, comparing ourselves to other people to see whether or not we’re obedient to Jesus, with what you’re saying, that’s just not going to be biblical.

And it can be really unhealthy. Now, I do think, I want to pause for a second there, and say that there can be healthy ways. I mean in a Hebrews 10, 24 and 25 way, we spur one another on toward Christ. When I see you growing in Christ, I am encouraged to grow in Christ. When I read biographies of heroes of the faith in the past, I mean, I am challenged. I’m convicted in different ways of my life.

But there’s an unhealthy way I can begin to compare myself with that person, or compare myself with you and say, “Okay, well if I’m not doing that, then I’m not accepted before God or I’m less of a Christian.” That’s where we come back to that whole picture of success equals obedience. Success equals faithfulness. And so what I want, even in this church that I pastor, is I want people in small groups, in community with one another, spurring one another on, really challenging each other with the ways they’re following, carrying out the commands of Christ in all of their different callings.

Avoid Unhealthy Comparison

So really spurring one another on, but not in a way that promotes an unhealthy comparison, that other people start to think, and it cuts both ways, other people start to think, “Well, if I’m not doing what he’s doing, then I’m not really a good radical whatever, Christian.” Or people start thinking, the Lord is calling them to make certain steps, and they start thinking, “Well, if other people aren’t making the same steps I’m making, then they’re not radical enough, or they’re not really serious.” And oh, both those can be really dangerous. At the root of both of them is pride. And the remedy, both of them is Christ-like humility that says, “I submit to whatever the Lord is leading me to do, and I want to follow that out, and I want to spur on brothers and sisters, but I want to serve them in doing that, not create this comparison.”

In a Hebrews 12 kind of way, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, author and perfector of our faith, and let him perfect our faith. And then along the way, in a Hebrews 10 kind of way, encourage one another.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

David Burnette serves as the Chief Editor for Radical. He lives with his wife and three kids in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves as an elder at Philadelphia Baptist Church. He received his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


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