Following instructions

Today there will be parts of England that will be waking up with a hangover. It will be a couple of weeks before we know whether the enjoyment has been worth it.

Further lockdown restrictions have been lifted and for the first time in months it has been possible to go to a pub for a drink.

Strict social distancing rules are allegedly in place, but if the photographs are to be believed, they have not been adhered to. 

The danger is that as the country opens up and gets back to ‘normal’, the virus which has been on retreat will find a way to re-emerge causing the feared second wave. 

I have to say that as someone that works in the NHS, not on the front line as such as I don’t look after patients directly, but carrying out the testing for Coronavirus, a second wave would be devastating. We are already stretched and have been for months. To ask us to ‘go again’ would be incredibly difficult, but we will, because we always do.

Although the rules are in place to keep people safe, it is evident that many struggle to follow them, (especially if they have been drinking.) If I’m honest, I haven’t been great at following instructions in the past.

If told to stand, my natural reaction is to want to sit. If I am told to dress a certain way, I will resist for several years before conforming to fashion rules. I think there is something in all of us that wants to push back against boundaries. One just needs to look at a child growing up, gradually trying to see how far their parents can be challenged before they break to appreciate that.

My question is – if we struggle to follow the instructions given by the highest authority in the land, how do we perform when challenged with instructions from the highest authority there is? 

Jesus said, ‘this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’ (john 15:2)

He said ‘heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons’ (Matthew 10:8)

‘If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’ (Matthew 5:39)

‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.’ (Matthew 28:19)

These are just four of the things that Jesus asks us to do. 

I once saw a picture with the caption “Simon says pat your head, and we pat our head. Jesus said make disciples and we hand out gospel tracts.” 

As humans we struggle with instructions, but with us as Christian’s it should be easier to follow Christs instructions. Why do we struggle so much? As I have noted in an earlier blog, it is our mind that needs to be renewed, our soul is battling against the new creations that is our spirit man. It is time to speak to our soul, command our mind and tell it that obedience is far better than sacrifice. 

How are you getting on with loving others? Even those that upset or annoy you? Have you decided that it is just too hard at the moment? 

In a world that is shouting about its rights are you prepared to be the one who stands and allows others to realise theirs at the expense of yours? Are you prepared to suffer for the things that you hold to be true?  Are you confident in the one who has saved you? Does the verse “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me?’  Are you convinced or simply hopeful?

Have we become guilty of handing out gospel tracts (in reality or figuratively) rather than making disciples? A disciple is one that follows in the footsteps of the one who has taught them. We are to make people disciples of Jesus. In order to do that effectively, we too need to be disciples. We need to be so immersed in the life of Jesus, his teachings and his instruction that it becomes second nature to us. That is the only way that we will be able to help people become accurate reproductions of the Master.

I hope and pray that we as a nation become better at following instructions. That we realise that they are there for our safety and our good. That we will stop trying to rebel against them simply as a way to make our voices heard. 

And that we will follow instructions of the one who makes it all worthwhile, who made us, holds us together and knows what is best for us.

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