3.28.2010

Love and Obey


A common lament of the Christian faith is “all the rules.” Many appreciate many facets of Christianity but ultimately choose not to go “all in” because to do so would be stifling. Where’s the fun in not being able to do lots of things that you would otherwise want to do?

I’m reminded of a story my friend told me of a lesson from his mother that has stuck with him into his adulthood. Chafing at yet another of his mother’s stated boundaries, he complained that the parents of his friend at school let his friend do whatever he wanted. His mother replied, “Do you think that is a loving thing for his parents to do?” She then proceeded to explain to my friend that rules are given out of love.

Indeed, the Bible makes it clear that rules are given out of love. From Eden to the journey of the wandering Israelites to the prophets’ cries to Jesus’ teaching, far from stifling us, God’s commandments spring from His love for His people.

As a parent, I can understand this connection. Specific instructions are given for my kids’ wellbeing, safety, and edification. And, in general, a household in which there are rules and boundaries and structure is far more loving than one in which anything goes.

But I guess this is the real fork in the road for mankind. One side believes they know best, and are the final arbiter of their own lives, and are thus capable of making the best decisions for themselves without accountability to a higher authority. Another side believes in a different narrative, one in which there is a higher authority, who is characterized both by wisdom, to know what is right for us, and love, to want what is right for us.

Like my kids, who sometimes chafe at my rules, I too often choose out of a life lived within the confines of God’s instructions. My kids think they know better than I do, and too often I act as if I know better than God does. A far better way, which we were created to live but which we have perverted and twisted in so many ways since, is to believe in the love that undergirds the giving of commandments, and to reflect that love back in the living out of the commandments.

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