There are many roads that we can take, but only one is the path of spiritual formation. If we are unwilling to follow this road we will miss out, not only on God, but also the life He created us to live.
Henry Blackaby in the workbook Experiencing God wrote: “God’s commands are designed to guide you to life’s very best. You will not obey Him, however, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You cannot believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him.” (p. 63)
The path that leads to becoming the person God created us to be is the way of obedience.
This quest to become the people God created us to be began with our knowledge of who God is. We cannot love, trust, and obey God unless we first know Him. Knowledge is the foundation of faith.
This is the truth that the apostle Paul highlighted when he wrote:
But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! (Romans 10:14-15; ESV)
Without a knowledge of God it is impossible to have faith. And what is faith?
This is the definition that I use: Faith is the combination of trust and action. This can only be demonstrated by our obedience. Without obedience there is no living faith.
The great biblical example of faith is Abraham. The Bible tells us that Abraham heard God’s call when he was in the land of Ur. How well did Abraham know God at this point in his life? Many scholars believe that it is likely that Abraham worshiped many gods and that he lacked a knowledge of Yahweh.
Blackaby in Created to be God’s Friend made this point; “To our knowledge, Abram was not seeking God; God was seeking him” (p. 16). In other words the beginning of Abraham’s journey was God’s desire to have a relationship with Him and not in Abraham”s desire to have a relationship.
What does that mean for us? it means that our faith and our spiritual formation in Christ all originate with God, and not with us. But for God’s desire to have any affect on us we need to respond to it. For our knowledge of God to make any difference in our lives, we must act on it.
God’s call to Abraham was enough for Abraham to act on and make that first step of faith towards the Promised Land. From there Abraham’s knowledge of God and his faith grew.
The revelation of God, found primarily in the Bible, provides us with the initial knowledge that we need to trust God and obey Him. As we continue to trust and obey God with our lives we begin to develop a deeper relationship with Him.
The relationship Abraham had with God at the beginning was not very strong. Abraham knew God well enough to trust God to lead him to the Promised Land, but based on the biblical account we know that there were other areas of Abraham’s life where He did not trust God. Yet over time Abraham learned to trust and love God like few people in history have. At the end of his life Abraham knew God a whole lot better than he did when he first left Ur to follow God into the unknown.
The apostle John talks about the relationship between obedience and a relationship with God:
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:3-6; ESV)
The only way to truly know God and thus become the people God created us to be is to obey God. There is no other way that will happen. We can spend time talking about purpose and goals and self-improvement techniques, but if we don’t turn to the Life-Maker we will miss out on life.
Remember we will not begin this quest to become the people God created us to be if we do not have a minimal knowledge of God. If we do not believe God exists we will not seek to know Him better let alone discover the life He created us to live. This quest begins when we act on the small glimpse God has revealed of Himself to us.
Through living this journey and experiencing God along the way we begin to know God better and better. Ultimately our knowledge of God is increased through living a life of obedience, and not just through Bible study and church attendance.
By traveling the road of obedience our faith is made stronger, our relationship with God is deepened, and our understanding of ourselves is improved.
Only as we obey God do we begin to experience Him at work in the world around us. It is this experience which helps us understand the heart of God, and thus brings us a little closer to Him.