Love Me

love

What makes a Christian a Christian? Does following Christ restrict life to a burdensome set of rules? Why do followers of Jesus attempt to live lives based on out of date rules of the Bible? Do they do this out of fear of being crushed by a vengeful God? Do they just want to escape hell for heaven?

If one wants to follow God there are two basic motivations for an honest person. The first motivation and the way that most people understand following God is through the Law. The Law is best represented by the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament covenants. It goes like this, and should be familiar to most everyone the world over, if you keep a set of rules then hopefully your good actions will outweigh your bad actions before God. This is religion at the core. Do this or bad stuff will happen. Do this or lightning bolts will fall from the sky. The second motivation for following God that is less understood is the role of faith and what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. This second motivation is real and is God’s actual intention. Christ and what He accomplished, not Religion, is the only motivation that is acceptable to God.

The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 NLT

God called Moses to the mountain where Moses received the laws of God. It was at this time that God’s glory was reflected from the face of Moses even after he had left the presence of God (Exodus 34:29-35). Paul tells us that the new way of faith with a life giving Holy Spirit makes the old way of keeping the law obsolete. This new way of fulfilling the law is accomplished through the work of Jesus and the overpowering love He has poured out on His followers. While the commands of Jesus are founded on the Law of the old way the motivation for obedience cannot be the same as the old way of attempting to follow the rules.

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:9-10 ESV

The natural state of humans is not love, but suspicion, selfishness, and sarcasm (don’t believe me go spend some time on twitter). So where does this love that leads to keep the Ten Commandments come from? That love comes from faith in Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit working in His followers.

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith… For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:5; 10-11 ESV

The motivation of a follower of Christ, a Christian, can be summed up in the depth of this following statement by Jesus to His disciples.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV

I am compelled to follow, listen, and obey Jesus because of love. Fear of hell or condemnation may have been a concern at some point in my life. But I am a Christian because of the overflow of Love that comes from Christ to me. I am overwhelmed by that love. That love comes from the faith I have received from Him. By faith I trust Him and acknowledge His authority as my Creator. Because He loves me I love Him and I pray that my motivation in everything is to obey Him because of love.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 ESV

*Revised and Edited. First published on Human Effort Sept 2013.

 

Selfishness or Obedience

Obeying the rules and submitting to the authority of others is very difficult. Many times we do not like the people who have authority and even worse we may not respect them as individuals. For children and teens this is even more difficult because they lack the life experience to understand why the rules are in place. As parents disciplining them to obey is a painful process that can easily make the parent out to be the “bad guy” in the situation. As a parent there have been times when my wife and I had to correct and address bad behavior from one of the children at bed time. There are tears and yelling, but they went to bed. As parents we feel bad because the guilt sets in that the child did not go to sleep happy and filled with love. This guilt and perspective is wrong. That child was loved so much that we were willing to correct them in spite of the pain for both of us. I have found that the next morning the painful part of tears and prideful resistance of the correction is forgotten and there is peace and a renewed embrace and understanding of right and wrong.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 ESV

I have found that God deals with me in much the same way. My heart is rebellious and there are always lusts of the flesh that capture my interests. These lusts for food and pleasure in my heart are part of prideful selfishness to obtain anything I want with no concern for the impact to others. A child that is screaming “me, me, me” cares only for his own needs. A child that grows up to be an adult that has never been disciplined against the selfish desires will be an adult that has no problem cheating and stealing to get what they want out of life.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

God’s word is vocal on how we are to correct our children and how we are to accept correction from the authorities over us. Everyone has authority that they submit willingly or unwillingly. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians quotes from the Ten Commandments and highlights an interesting fact about the command to honor your parents.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3 ESV

Paul calls out the link between obedient children and a society that is well organized and long lasting. Paul in another letter lumps disobeying parents in with the worst of the worst things people do.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:29-32 ESV

A child trained to obey earthly parents is an adult that will obey a heavenly father. Jesus is calling us to follow him and the authority he has from the Father. Jesus is calling you…

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV