Part 3: Obey
Friday, October 4, 2013
New Church Perspective in Evangelizing, Jesus, New Church, Todd Beiswenger, growth

This is the final article in a three-part series looking at the model Jesus provided for evangelisation. Here Todd focuses on how Jesus asked people to obey Him. Todd views this as matter of common sense. If you have come to believe in Him, doing what He says is the only rational path. When the storms come, and we do as He instructed us, we survive. Our lives then become a testament to the power of His teachings and may draw others. -Editor

How do we grow the church? The purpose of these articles has been for us to take a look at how Jesus started the Christian church. Up to this point we've looked at asking people to follow us, to just see for themselves the healing teachings. After a while, Jesus asks them to believe. Now that they've seen and believe, things actually do take a different turn. This is the practical part, the “do” part. They were asked to obey.

Before we go any further though, I want to take a little detour back to the Old Testament. Because, when we think of “obeying”, we usually think of rules. “Obey” the speed limit, “obey” the governmental laws, etc. So let me draw your attention to the most famous set of rules, the 10 Commandments. Can you think of when it was that God gave them to Children of Israel? He did not give them on day one. Jehovah didn't reveal himself to the Israelites while they were slaves in Egypt and say, “Here are some rules to obey!” Instead, God gave the 10 Commandments, His “obedience” part after He had miraculously rescued them from Egypt, guided them across the Red sea, providing them food and drink in the desert wasteland, leading them by day, protecting them by night, taking them to Mt. Sinai and after weeks and weeks of giving, giving, giving, He now says, “I'd like to tell you how to live your life.” Not because I need you to do this to love you, but do this because I love you. Now that you trust me, would you be open to some lifestyles changes?

Some people get off the bus right there. That “obey” part is painful. Most people really don't like to change out of their comfortable ways. Jesus understood this. The sermon on the mount is similar to the 10 Commandments in that it is where Jesus presented a brand new value system. When somebody asks you to do something, do more. Be generous. If somebody asks for something, give them more. Forgive. Every time? Yes, every time. Jesus says I'm letting you off, so you need to let them off. This was a brand new way of seeing the world. Treat everybody the way you want to be treated. By the way, lust is a sin. I'm asking you to alter your entire lifestyle. I'm asking you to conform your living and your thinking to my teachings.

At the end of the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells a parable to a group of people who were already following, who were already beginning to believe, that it is obedience that makes the practical difference. Following is great. Belief is important. But the real difference is when we obey. People were probably thinking, “Well, I don't know if I can do that!” Or perhaps more likely they thought they didn't want to do that. So then Jesus, knowing what they're thinking, tells this parable...

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24, my emphasis).
Now really, we have to figure that it is common sense to build your house on a rock. Building a house on a rock can't be a new idea. I can imagine the people listening to Jesus thinking, “Who doesn't build their house on a rock?” So what Jesus is saying, in effect, is that whoever does what I say, has common sense. Anybody who leaves here today and rearranges their life around what I'm teaching, is smart.

We have to make up our mind. This isn't about heaven or hell. This isn't about whether or not you are a good person or bad. This isn't a threat. It is like he leans over, looks us in the eye and says, “It is just about being smart.” Just as a building that is built on a rock can withstand a storm, if you do what Jesus says, your life can survive a storm.

Jesus also promises that you're going to have trouble. Financial trouble. Marriage trouble. Business trouble, Family trouble. It is just part of life. Life is hard on everything. He's telling us this because He loves us. But if you rearrange your life around these teachings, He promises, you will survive. You might loose a shingle or two, but you survive. You might have to carry your cross for a little while, but there is a resurrection.

If we don't do what He says, we're fools? We don't have common sense? That's right. As the one who created life, who created marriage, to ignore His teachings is to be a fool. If you trust Him, if you believe that He has your best interest in mind, if you recall all the things you've seen and heard, why wouldn't you make changes in your life according to His teachings? He then finishes the story,

“and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall" (Matt 7:27).
Of course it fell!

Think about all the marriages that fail today. What if they had rearranged their lives around Jesus' teachings before the storm came to their marriage? What if they had incorporated the teachings of the New Church? Not just acknowledged the teachings as true, but actually did them! What if you let go of every petty complaint against your fellow humans, complaints that are rendered to show how you are right and they are wrong. Those things are really just the love of self in disguise, because at the root is, “I'm the best, better than you.” How many friendships, relationships and marriages fail to let the mistakes of others stay in the past? People learn to cope, tolerate or put up with the quirks of others, but most don't really let things go. It is like they keep score, eventually exploding in anger because they hadn't really forgiven the other. They just learned to cope.

This is not what Jesus taught us to do. He doesn't want us to tolerate living, He wants us to love life. When the storm comes, and we live as He instructed, when we obey Him, I like to think the outcome could have been different. It isn't to say that it wouldn't have been tough. We might have felt like the house they built on a rock lost some windows. But the house, the marriage, is still standing. But they were willing to make the changes in their lives that saved the marriage because they had followed Jesus, seen what He had done, believed in who He was and as a result obeyed His teachings.

Some churches seem to take shortcuts in the process. And no, this is not a New Church only problem. I've been to some churches where they welcome you with, “Have you accepted Christ as your savior?” Or others where they tell me right off that they speak in tongues. Can you image what people would think if they showed up at our door and we said, “Welcome, now obey!” Clearly that wouldn't work so well.

Instead, our lives need to be a witness to our faith. Let's not overwhelm new-comers with theological minutiae, or send them away with a library of reading material. Let's just show them how we live our lives, tell them about the storms we've weathered, and they'll see for themselves what rearranging their life according to the teachings of the New Church can do for them. If the world wants to determine what authentic Christianity is, they won’t examine your faith—they don’t know how—but they will examine your life.

Todd Beiswenger

Todd is currently serving as Pastor to the Hurstville New Church, in Sydney Australia. The emphasis of his ministry has been promoting practical teachings for everyday living that combine compassion with personal responsibility to help people be at peace within their own head.

Article originally appeared on New Church Perspective (
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