Following in the Footsteps of Faith (Part 2): The Obedience of Faith (Genesis 12:4-6)

The God of the universe has told Abram to do the unusual. Leave everything. Leave country, home, family, culture. Pack it all up, leave, worship Me, and I will show you where I want you to go. How would you respond? What would you do? When God puts your faith into the tempest of trial and obedience, what emerges?

In Genesis 12:4 we read a very simple statement. “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him…” Obedience. Complete, total, no reservation, no guarantees, no back up plan (Abram is 75 years old- he doesn’t have time for a back-up plan). No, Abram simply packs up everything, brings his family and nephew with him, and starts in total obedience to God’s calling.

One day I want to ask Abram about that trip. I want to ask him about the faith that moved him to obey the call of God on his life. Until then I want to emulate this: total obedience rooted in total faith and reliance on God and His infallable Word. Three things I see here that are applicable to the lives of all believers:

  1. We must obey the revealed Word of God. God doesn’t tell us to pack up everything and take off to some random place that He is preparing for us. And yet, He has given us His Word and we are to obey it. That it both scary and comforting. It’s scary because God has revealed a lot and I am a frail and fallen human being. It’s scary because all around me I see Christians who are compromising the revealed Word. Compromise on homosexuality or immorality. Christians falling into pornography, drunkenness, sensuality, selfishness, greed, gossip, lust, and the list goes on and on. But this idea is also very comforting because we have the revealed Word. I don’t ever have to sit in my home stressed and anxious about whether I am going to accidently step across some hidden line that I didn’t know anything about. God has revealed Himself and His character to us in His Word. Lord, give us strength to obey You out of a heart of complete faith in You!
  2. We must obey despite apparent challenges. Our obedience is going to face some opposition! Abram had been given a promise of an heir. His wife is 65 and is barren. How is that going to work? Oh yeah, and verse 6 tells us that “At that time the Canaanites were in the land.” Such an innocuous reference. You could almost read it and not think anything else about it. Oh, but how those people would test the faith of Abraham and his descendents! Once again, our faith will not face the same challenges, but nevertheless, opposition remains. You don’t feel like it, you want something else, your spouse distracts, your kids distract, your job throws hurdles onto the path of obedience, your friends think it is their sole purpose in life to trip up your faithfulness to Christ. Saturdays become a massive string of late-night activities that keep you either out of Sunday worship or existing as the morning of the living dead, performing zombie worship. Let me challenge you- eliminate those obstacles that can be eliminated, and prepare yourself for those that cannot be eliminated! Because your obedience will be tested!
  3. We must obey even if it means massive life change. Abram’s life change meant a 400 mile journey away from everything familiar. Yours and mine might mean moving if God chooses to move us. But it also might mean family members who don’t like being around you or mock you. It might mean a change in jobs or careers. It most certainly will mean a radical shift in attitudes and belief systems. Because when someone comes to Christ and their faith is rooted totally in Him, their life will change in radical ways!

In closing, could I submit that what God wants from each one of us is a simple but total faith that results in simple but total obedience? There has been an emphasis in Christian circles on “radical” faith. And there is a point to what those authors have said. But we can go too far to the point that we hold in less esteem those believers who have simply been faithful and obedient to Christ in the simple areas of life over a long period of time. That is what we want, and that is what the world needs to see. Husbands who love their wives. Wives who respect their husbands. Children who obey their parents. People who live out the fruit of the Spirit in their every day life, showing grace and mercy to those around them. That is what the world needs to see. Some may hate us for it. Some may fall on their knees and turn to the Savior. Others may respond positively, but not put their trust in Christ. But all of them need to see Christians living out their faith in the day to day experiences of life.