May 03, 2017

The Discomfort of Obedience by Steph Beth Nickel

Do you find it easy to identify an organization’s or an individual’s shortcomings but harder to identify what you should do to make the situation better?

Yes? Me too.

Recently I made some notes about things I’ve appreciated about Christian organizations I’ve been part of.

Different groups have different strengths. Here are some of them:

A deep desire to know God

Commitment to study the Scriptures

Efforts to facilitate unity among believers

Call to exercise gifts, abilities, and talents in the furtherance of God’s kingdom

Commitment to build up one another

Dedication to lead by example

Realization that the Lord works in each one of us individually

I also recognize some areas of concern:

A double standard (Apparently, sometimes what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander.)

Talking about one another rather than to one another

The downplaying of sin in favour of emphasizing who we are in Christ

The downplaying of who we are in Christ in favour of focusing on our sinfulness

An overemphasis on the role of emotion in worship

A rigid perspective on what it means to do things “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40)

Belief that one’s theological perspective is without error and there is nothing to learn from those who hold a different view.

Making these lists was easy, but the Lord challenged me to do more than that. He reminded me that if I’m not part of the solution, I’m part of the problem.

Speaking of a double standard … if I identify an area of concern in another, I must be willing to examine myself, see if I also fall short in this area, and ask God to show me how to live honestly and authentically. I must also be willing to respectfully address the issue out of concern for others not merely because it frustrates me.

I must encourage others to go directly to the person with whom they’re having problems. I must also set a good example by doing the same.

So many aspects of life must be held in tension. There is godly confidence that the Lord will enable us to walk in obedience when we begin to grasp that, because of Jesus, He already sees us as righteous. However, we can become prideful if we forget that it is only because of what the Saviour has done for us that this is the case.

Expressing emotion is yet another area we must seek to keep in tension. Being loved by the Creator of the universe and being called to be His own should stir our emotions. Witnessing the pain and heartache all around us should cause compassion to well up within us. I believe we must make room for individuals to express their emotions in the context of corporate worship. However, we must remember the Bible warns us that our heart is deceptive. We must measure our emotions against the truth of the Scriptures.

I didn’t intend to spend so much time on the tensions of the Christian life, but the topic of theological perspective is another area in which we must maintain tension between sound biblical doctrine and the realization that just because another believer doesn’t agree with us on every point doesn’t mean they don’t have insight and understanding that has alluded us.

Perhaps the Lord is challenging you to make some of the same commitments.

It isn’t always comfortable. It isn’t always easy. But obedience is always the right choice.


  1. Thank you for making us think today!

  2. Thank you, Steph, for sharing these thoughts. It's so true that we all fall short in some areas, and it's always much easier to see other's shortcomings rather than our own. You also make another good point. We must not be so rigid in our theological perspectives that we shut ourselves off from learning from others.

  3. Timely, Steph, especially considering the day in which we live when truth is not considered absolute anymore. I agree with you that I need to examine myself and make sure I'm not living a double standard, and yet also be willing to confront those who are misrepresenting Christ. Not easy!

  4. Thank you, Stephanie, for speaking out on issues we all need to consider. It is obvious you have put some time and clear thought into this writing. I appreciate what you are saying, which I find you have summarized clearly in your 3rd-last paragraph.


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.