What My Obedience to God Costs Other People

When God turned me around and put me on the right track with Him back in 2004 I naively assumed that all of the Christians I knew would automatically see the truths God was revealing to my heart and rejoice in their own revival. However, that was not the case. In fact, most of them quit talking with me. I found myself isolated and separate. The more I obeyed God the more separate I became. If we check this out with scripture we will find that this is the way it is. Our little minds and our fragile egos may not like that, but it is the way it is. However, God is good. He will bring into our lives those whom He uses to encourage us and keep us focused on Him and His glory. I pray that the following devotional by Oswald Chambers speaks to your heart has it has to mine many times. – Mike Ratliff

What My Obedience to God Costs Other people

by Oswald Chambers

“They laid hold upon one Simon…and on him they laid the cross.” (Luke 23:26)

If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it–“You call this Christianity?” We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be paid.

Our human pride entrenches itself on this point, and we say–I will never accept anything from anyone. We shall have to, or disobey God. We have no right to expect to be in any other relation than our Lord Himself was in (see Luke 8:2-3).

Stagnation in spiritual life comes when we say we will bear the whole thing ourselves. We cannot. We are so involved in the universal purposes of God that immediately we obey God, others are affected. Are we going to remain loyal in our obedience to God and go through the humiliation of refusing to be independent, or are we going to take the other line and say–I will not cost other people suffering? We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be a grief to our Lord. Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to obey and to leave all consequences with Him.

Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him.

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48 thoughts on “What My Obedience to God Costs Other People

  1. Mike,
    Wow, this speaks to my heart. I have experienced this, especially in the last couple of years. So much so, that some in our local body have come to the pastor and expressed “I wish they would leave.” It has saddened me, but God has brought godly men and women into my life who share the same desire to be with Him. So cool.
    John F

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  2. John,

    Amen. Everytime I have begun to feel isolated and alone in this narrow walk of obedience, God has brought someone or even multiple people into my life who are great encouragers. God has more on this path than we know, but it is so sad to see the masses of professing Christians not “getting it.”

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  3. Mike…interesting because my experience was close to the same after high school about 12 years ago…and it just continues to separate. What I have found is that I have some great new friends and I am closer to these friends than any others before…because of the unity of the Spirit…

    Some advice?

    I decided to write some of my former friends letters about the gospel. I admitted that I was not walking with the Lord while with them and that I know that was wrong. Then I went into how Christ is our only rule of conduct, not others. I then gave it to them straight…repent or you will go to hell.

    I did this very lovingly and thoughtful. I did it through a letter, and made sure they understood why I did it through letter, which is so that they would read it fully instead of rebuking my old lifestyle and not hearing the message. The amazing thing is that one of those friends turned to Christ through it!

    The others drifted apart but they let me know that they appreciated and read the letter that I wrote. One even told me that he liked that we were friends because he likes to have friends “from different religions” so that he could have different points of view…

    Anyways…keep the faith and know that sometimes losing friends is the cost of walking closer with Him.

    may He be glorified and us lost in the cross

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  4. Can you give specific situations where Christians rejected you for doing God’s will? I am having a hard time understanding why or when a follower of Christ would do that?

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  5. Seth,

    Yes, may He be glorifed and us lost in the cross. Amen brother. I have come to terms with the separation. He has also given me new friends who are on the same journey. I consider those who regularly come here to Possessing the Treasure as those friends God has provided not just for me, but all those who read these posts and comments. I am very encouraged when I read the deepness and intense love many of you have for our Lord.

    I also rejoice that someone who read your letter came to a saving faith.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  6. Nathan,

    Yes I can give you specific examples. I was in a Bible study in early 2005. I was sharing everything God was taking me through and showing me from His Word about this walk. I was trying to explaim to my former pastor and some of the other deacons in this Bible Study about being Spirit-filled. The only one who “got it” was the deacon who was hosting the Bible study. My pastor and the other deacons simply scoffed and made comments like I was just getting excited and it would wear off. After they left I stayed a few minutes and talked to my friend who was hosting. He told me that they had no business talking to me that way. He understood exactly what I was talking about. He was in the process of being drawn from the darkness into the light himself. In any case, that Bible study started the separation from my pastor and me. From that moment on he excluded me from everything he could. Why? I wanted the church to become more involved in discipleship and teaching our folks how to become free from the bondage to their flesh. He wanted to grow the church bigger.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  7. Mike,

    being “spirit-filled” is a highly debated theological issues, and there are so many positions on the subject. Could it be that there was just a difference in theological stances between you and your pastor. I ask all this because I have had the opposite experience. The closer I have moved towards God, the closer I have grown to my Christian community.

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  8. Two good examples from the Scriptures:

    Matthew 16:
    21From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

    Acts 21:
    10While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” 12When we heard this, we. and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”

    This is one of my favorite teachings by Chambers. I refer to it a lot when sahring with our congregation. What did He say about His ways and ours?

    Good Post

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  9. Nathan,

    If you are being obedient to God and you are actually drawing closer to the majorty of professing Christians then you only THINK you are being obedient to God. You may be drawing closer to those who agree with you, but if you are doing what God commands us to do which is preach the gospel in its entirety, make disciples and not compromise on any truths then those who will become closer to will be those who are also being obedient. However, there will be others who will always say, “forget that! Who are you to tell me that is what God is doing. That’s not the God I worship, etc.” I have experienced this is sharp detail. However, If I seek to compromise everything and always to be at peace with everyone even those who refuse to believe the truth and actually oppose it then I am not being obedient to God.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  10. Dear brother Mike,

    Good to read your experience. I would vouch for it myself with my own experience. This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said,

    “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.”

    Jesus went to the cross all alone, He suffered all alone. He was prepared for that when he subjected Himself to be humbled and to be obedient. The Christian life is not the common road, it is radical and different from the usual.

    Keep it up and keep walking closely with Jesus. Obey the Word and be open to the leading of His Holy Spirit. Allow the Lord to love others through you. Don’t get weary of sharing the Good News of Salvation. God bless you!

    In Christ,

    Joji

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  11. Mike,

    Again thank you!…well, thank God!…for another perfectly timed reading!

    Just yesterday I had a conversation with a friend that accused me of “separating”. This same friend told me that we were made for this world…he’s getting scripture to prove this to me today. He accused me of lacking “love”, which is ironic, because I feel that God has allowed me to love more, but tolerate less of what is being understood as love in this world. I told him that we have so perverted love in this world that belongs to Satan, that it is only through God’s word and grace that we can know and demonstrate true love.

    After this conversation, I returned home only doubting myself…well I took it to God and His word – and He once again revived me!
    To Him alone do I serve! God alone can define me, not man!

    Loving our Lord can be a lonley place at times, but I praise Him for His grace to love Him…I want nothing less than for Him to be first in my life ( I am not there, but so desire it!)…no matter the costs!

    He lives!
    Sherry

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  12. What then is the “peace” fruit of the spirit good for?

    “You may be drawing closer to those who agree with you, but if you are doing what God commands us to do which is preach the gospel in its entirety, make disciples and not compromise on any truths then those who will become closer to will be those who are also being obedient.”

    What level of obedience is expected/required to be considered “obedient?”

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  13. Sherry,

    Yes, Praise GOD! This is a huge crisis right now. There are those out there who are saying that Christians will never separate from other Christians. I agree that we should strive for that, but when apostasy or heresy become apparent in “beleivers” then we must rebuke and separate from those who refuse to repent. I do not enjoy this nor will I ever do so, but we must be obedient.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  14. “My pastor and the other deacons simply scoffed and made comments like I was just getting excited and it would wear off.”

    We are all prone to that but it is impossible to get overly excited about Jesus, the Person, and His gift of eternal life. In this area the charismatic brothers and sisters have it closer than we do even though their theology is suspect.

    A man loses his dog of ten years. He searches the neighborhood for two days and on the third day he sees his dog wandering in a field. He runs to his dog, scoops him up in his arms, and tearfully rejoices in his good fortune. He brings his dog home and his whole family rejoices like crazy people. (That is how our family would react to finding our dog Chopper!)

    But this same family sits in a church and hears again the good news that we have been given eternal life and have also been granted unlimited access to the Author of Life. This same family listens as if they are hearing the stock market report in which they own no stock.

    Something is incongruent with these two accounts, wouldn’t you say? I do not say that the emotions would always be the same, but I do say there should be some emotion that also leads to joyful obedience! Good word from OC.

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  15. I couldn’t find an email address for you, otherwise I’d email you directly.

    Speaking of obedience, does that include not listening to emerging music? You list an emerging musician, Shawn McDonald, on your blog. Shawn McDonald’s live album was performed and recorded at Mars Hill Seattle, the emerging church home of the cussing pastor, Mark Driscoll.

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  16. Matt,

    Good grief. I like his music. I had no idea he was emergent. I really don’t think he is. I’ve heard him speak. He speaks the same obedience message that I write about. Why did he sing at that church? I have no idea. John Piper is one of those I read a lot. Will I quit reading him because emergents like him as well? When God tells me to stop listening to someone then I will. On the other hand, if I have the freedom to read or listen to whoever God directs me to, but it is a stumbling block to one with weaker faith then I must not do so. Do you understand?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratlff

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  17. Very good post. I believe it was G.K. Chesterton who once said, “The only problem I have with the Church is when it gets in the way of the Gospel.”

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  18. Dear Mike and ALL

    Dt 28:7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. (ESV)
    Everyone please remember that
    Pr 27:5 Better is open rebuke
    than hidden love. (ESV)
    I have counted my loses as nothing compaired to the hunger that the Lord has instilled into my heart for the word of God.
    He has been teaching all of us to live on day at a time. To continue to pray for his strength patience and peace to make it through these days.
    Lord Show your face and not my Face
    Let it be your word and not my words
    Let it be you ways and not my ways, in Jesus’ name I pray.
    Father have mercies on all of us for we are nothing but wicked sinners.
    Thank you for opening our eyes to serve you for your purpose and not our own. Thank you for leading us by your spirit. Thank you for the Good work you have started in me and I know that you will take to completion, in Your day.

    David

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  19. David,

    My dear brother in Christ! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I was just reading in Joshua this morning and in Luke at the birth of John the Baptist and this very message came in clear to my heart that even though many are attacking and accusing me and others with the ministry of restoration and reform God is not going to allow them to prosper. Thank you again for sharing this. Amen brother.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  20. I enjoyed your article and agree with it in totality. When you start exhibiting faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and his finished work at the Cross, people (especially Christians) become offended and will stop associating with you. Why? I never understood why the Cross is such an offense! Maybe because its Christ centered and not people centered? Yes that is why. Why can’t Christians focus on understanding the message of the Cross instead of trying to do what Christ did? We couldn’t handle any of that without the power of the Holy Spirit so why are we making the yoke such a burden? When your object of faith is in what YOU do instead of what HE did for you, it will always end in self righteousness and that is where the “church” is today.

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  21. Mike:

    I have become convinced that if what you are saying or doing is based on direct Biblical example or is directly supported by contextual interpretation of Bible scripture, then having people who call themselves Christians criticize and ostracize you is confirmation that what you are doing is right.

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  22. Todd,

    Please try to understand this. I am not saying that God expects us to be perfect. He commands that we obey Him. Where we fail, and we all do, we must confess and repent of that. We will never reach perfection here in this life, and we must not be discouraged that we can’t do so. However, whom does God bless and help? Isn’t it those who obey Him? I try my best to obey him. Just because a brother or sister isn’t at that level of obedience does not mean I sever fellowship with them. Why would I do that? Instead, I work to encourage them to repent and move into the light. However, there are many who simply refuse to do that at all. I am not consciously separating from them, instead, I simply keep moving forward with my Lord and they are left behind. Does that make sense to you?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  23. Because we will all fail is no reason for us to not strive to be 100% obedient. If we want to grow as people and as Christians we need to set goals that are beyond what we are already able to achieve. Otherwise we’re wimps who are staying in our safe little box, spinning in our hamster wheel over and over and over.

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  24. In Jesus’ prayer in Matthew he prays to His Father that we (believers) would be one as He is one with the Father. Since we are sinners this is an impossible task, however one that we should seek to undertake. I understand your feelings of disappointment in your brothers in Christ. When God reveals truths to us that bring us great joy and we share them with other believers we hope that they will rejoice with us. When they criticize us instead, it hurts. Perhaps God has not shown these brothers the same truths just yet. Maybe they are not at the place in their relationships with God that they are ready for this. Let’s pray that God will bring wisdom and healing to these relationships as we continue to pray for your brothers in Christ. We should also pray that God will give you great love for them as well as patience (remember Job’s friends). Sometimes great patience is needed when seeking the best for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

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  25. Wonderful and timely post Mike. This past year, 2006, God has been so good to me and opened my eyes to many spiritual truths. I love my church very much. It is a very loving church. Over the past year I have read and studied my bible more than ever before and now, although my church is very loving I find I am not being fed anymore, other that my sunday school class. This is sad for me because I think I was being fed initially in 2006 as I was much more of a baby then. Now I need more. I went to a womens getaway for our church ladies a couple of weekends ago. While we did have a good time, and our speaker was good and did refer to the bible, we were never once asked to open our bibles and we never once did a bible study. This grieved me. What bonds us together is not that we go to the same church or that we are women but that we have the same savior, Jesus Christ the righteous. How can we not open and read His word at a church gathering? I feel like when I comment on these types of things I am seen or will be seen as unloving, a complainer, divisive. I really love these women and appreciate the effort they put into putting together a weekend for us, but at the same time my first love is the Lord and my spirit was grieved. When riding back with two other women, one an associate pastors wife, we had to pull out on the main road. The associate pastors wife was driving and made a comment in reference to the driver of an oncoming vehicle, something to the effect of “Thats right punk, you better slow down, I have the right of way.” While I know she was mostly joking, I couldn’t help but think I had wasted my weekend and that there was no spiritual benefit whatsoever. I long for someone to long for the Lord with me, daily. Thanks for your post, it was really needed.

    Love In Christ,
    Rachel

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  26. Mike,

    You describe a reality for the man who reckons himself dead daily. In that “cutting off”, comes the new life, the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit making us new creations, forming us in the image of Christ.

    This action separates us from the worldly, and the worldly can’t help but see it, and the worldly will react to it. Some will be attracted, some will be repelled, some will attack. All will be held accountable.
    May God have mercy on us on all.

    Thank you for your faithfulness.

    Jim

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  27. Rachel,

    I have been right where you are. In fact, I still find myself there sometimes. It is a mistake we make that we are in a new spiritual place because of God working in our hearts, but those around us are only experiencing in their “feelings” what we have taken deep and are changed by it. I used to struggle with this, but have learned that we must respond with patience and meekness when this happens. Let God take you deeper.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  28. I like this quote from Chambers: “Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience.”

    This is what I struggle with. I have had to separate from a friend who refuses to want to see the truth. In fact, at one point, she said, “I don’t care about the truth.” But then she says that I am the one who is divisive because I care about the truth of God and His Word.

    Paul says in Romans that we are to separate from those who bring division. But, in Paul’s estimation, who are the dividers? Paul says the dividers are those who do NOT accept and teach the doctrine that Paul taught. How can one accept and teach Paul’s doctrine when he/she doesn’t even want to know the truth?

    No, instead, my friend does not want to lose her position at church. She doesn’t want to lose friends there. She has made her choice and she has chosen to look to the church, her friends… anything but Jesus Himself.

    And now I find myself grieving over her/our situation. Oswald Chambers’ reminder that God will look after those who are left behind in our wake of obedience was much needed today.

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  29. Thanks for this post. See, God does send encouragement…from you. For the past 3 years, after I had a similar experience as you, I have felt like an alien living on Mars.

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  30. Oh WOW! BECAUSE of HIS GRACE I want and try to be 100% obedient.

    He died, took my sins, had victory over death, gave me His Holy Spirit, and has prepare a place for me to spend eternity.

    Whether I am 100% obedient or 1% obedient does NOT add too or take away from His GRACE.

    By the way, before someone has a tizzy, I said I TRY to be 100% obedient; I did NOT say I acheived it.

    Great topic, Mike.
    fishon [pastor jerry]

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  31. Amen Carol and thank you!

    Lin,

    You are welcome. Yes this has been most surreal for me too.

    fishon,

    Amen! I was truly amazed yesterday that these fellows were trying to get me to say that we can be 100% obdient. I never said that either. 🙂 I said that we are to try to do it. Those who say it’s okay to not try are the ones with a problem.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  32. Mike,
    There was a movie made about 20 years ago called “Great Expectations.” It was about a family of Loggers on the Oregon Coast. Now, that has nothing to do with all that has been said, but the title of the movie says a lot about what Father {God the Father} expects of his children {we who are saved}:
    He has “Great Expectations” of us who have been saved by
    God the Son.
    fishon

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  33. Amen Jerry!!!! That is it. We are to set our expectations high. We will never be perfectly obedient, but our heart’s desire will be that and the Lord will grant us repetance in amazing ways as we submit more and more to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of our lives. I am still a bit nonplused that anyone who calls themselves a Christian would have a problem with that.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  34. Hi Mike,
    I accepted Christ in March of 1988. I think I was like Moses in the desert up until 1998 when I had to move for a new job. When we arrivied we found a good Bible beliveing church with an old pastor that preached the Bible. God realy grew me in that 4 years, However in 2002 we came back home and returned to our home church and God has not let up on me yet. I have had a growing hunger for Gods word and the Holy-Spirit that over takes me more and more. I feel that right now God is working in the lives of the true followers to draw us closer to him. This is not just a movement it is a calling and the rest of the church needs to turn around and look up. God loves us so much we need to reciprocate. I am not a Bible scholar by no means but I do know the Fisherman that caught me in 1988 was not using a bait that I would have picked he was not looking for me to tell him what would please me. So Mike keep moving forward as Paul said be steadfast inmoveable always abounding in the Lord.
    Thanks and God Bless and Keep you and yours,
    Danny

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  35. Pingback: My Conscience is Captive to the Word of God « Possessing the Treasure

  36. Oh mike what a great post! I feel like Oswald Chambers reached into my head and put into words what I was thinking, but far more eloquently than I could have. Thank you for posting that.

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