Sunday, December 13, 2015

Love by Command

If I were to write a book or an instruction manual on how to live with my family, and you read it seriously, would that make you worthy to live with my family and would you succeed at it?  Would reading and playing out everything I wrote in that book qualify you and truly prepare you for living with my family?  Would that give you the “Right”, the “Qualification”, the readiness to live with my family?  No, especially if I never invited you to live with my family in the first place.  And will you really love me and my family?  All you are doing is playing out a life you will never truly understand and by doing those things in the book, will not prove your love for me and my family.  Yes, it can prepare you and set your habits to a point.
But if I asked you to come live with me and my family and learn to be a part of it, most likely, you would see that I am not following the book I wrote, but set that aside and lived outside of that book, and asked you to follow me. And in that, we learn love, respect, and even obedience.  Does that mean what I wrote in the book is not true or is invalid? No, it just simply means that I wrote the book for your preview and basic understanding, but not for you to live out of. It just gives you a little insight of our lives. The book will never compare to the real lives we live.  You will never understand our lives by what I write in a book until you come to live with us and see what really happens on a daily basis.  However, could you say that once you read the book, started to live with us, that you can see it being “prophetic”?  You will begin to see how things you read in the book start to unfold and being fulfilled in our lives as you live with us!  “Oh! I remember reading about this! Now that I see it, it makes more sense!”

Jesus wrote the book of His life through imperfect prophets and scribes.  He said these laws and prophecies are “forever”.  What does He mean by that?  I keep getting challenged with these words and began to wonder if this is for our spiritual lives today.  I know that these words are “profitable for instruction” and we learn from them. We see how Man lived and the consequences of disobedience.  But I just read an article, Fulfilling the Law,  by J. Michael Feazell, Vice President of Grace Communion International (GCI), about this concept of law and how it was fulfilled.  I began to realize that when I try to defend my case that we are no longer under the law, citing verses such as Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15 and others, I look at Matthew 5:17-18, and become a bit confused, for a moment.

But I ask, how did Jesus fulfill the law?  And is the law forever?  And is the Law still binding? And does Jesus still live as if He were in a Jewish community, doing all these things the Jewish convert would do? Is Jesus reading the Torah every day to make sure he is in line with the Law?  If Jesus is doing these things now and require us to do them, then the Law was not fulfilled, Jesus did not succeed, and worse of all, Jesus is bound to his own book rather than living beyond the book, the law, the rules that he wrote down for our sake.

I come to realize that the Law, as good as it was, was fulfilled (not destroyed mind you, but fulfilled) in Christ, and we are no longer trying to live by a bunch of rules.   But is it “forever”?  Yes.  It is forever, but does that mean we “Live by them” to act out in our lives?  No.  The end result of the Law is forever; that is, Jesus Christ and him fulfilling those requirements, which is death.  Death is the real end of the Law.  Jesus died for humanity, therefore the Law, which says “If you don’t obey me, you will die”, cannot take our lives. We are no longer under its strict rules and penalties if we don’t live by them.  The end result is forever. It is completed forever. The prophecies are fulfilled forever.  They are fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah.

But is it love to obey the Law?  Is obeying the Law required to show love?

The article I pointed out earlier confronts this confusion as to whether living by the Law helps us to love, or that we love by obeying the Law.  Is that what love is, obeying the Law?  Or is Love much bigger than the Law?  Can the Law (the Torah) we have written down really contain the Love of God?  Christians understand that God is Love. If God is love and we show love by obeying the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses, then is the Ten Commandments God?  Of course we will say NO!  Yet we try to “prove” our love by obeying the Law written down by Moses.  But are we to try to prove anything?  Are we to obey the Law, or the One who is greater than the Law?  Is Jesus bound by his own Law?  Is Jesus bound by His own Book he wrote?  Or, is the purpose of this book and its laws is simply to point us to Jesus the promised Messiah?  And now that we are in Jesus, are we to love God in Jesus Christ, rather than trying to prove our love through a book?   If you come to live with us, would you keep referring to the book I wrote, or would you just come in and sit down with us and live with us as we live?  Am I to expect you to constantly refer to The Book I wrote every time I say something or do something?  Or will you allow yourself to be surprised and ride along with me and my family as we live out our lives and adventures together?

I remember an episode of BBC’s Kitchen Nightmares where a world renowned Chef Gordon Ramsey would come in to rescue failing restaurants by confronting the owners.  One chef of a restaurant showed off his cook books including one authored by Ramsey himself.  Gordon tossed out all the books, including his own, because the Chef of the restaurant was too “recipe” oriented rather than cooking from the heart.  Even the famous Chef Gordon Ramsey doesn’t follow his own book for cooking!  He teaches from the heart, the soul and from taste buds, but especially from a real deep desire and love for cooking!

I do not have a “book of life” my daughter reads to get along with us. We have a face to face relationship and we work together (or struggle with one another) to make it through each day.  Some days things don’t go so well, but I don’t pound a book of laws over her head. I remind her of my love for her and what we taught her.   But that is not the same as posting rules and regulations on the wall and pointing at that all the time (we tried it, it didn’t work).   There is just something impersonal and lacking when rules are posted everywhere and rituals are expected constantly.  There is no room for error. There is no room for grace. There is really no room for love.  Love and grace is only limited to what is written in the book and posted on the walls.  And for me to tell my daughter “You don’t love me unless you keep those rules on the wall”, would be very disturbing.  That will be too conditional and problematic.  She would assume then that I won’t love her either unless she obeys these rules. She will obey them, but would always believe that deep down, I really don’t love her and she would not really love me as we know she could have.  It will impede our relationship. However, our love is unconditional, not dependent on rules and regulations, traditions and appearances.  Yes, she gets moody, refuses to do things with me at times, and even disobey me when I tell her to do something (or not do something).  But I just gently remind her that one day she will be older and I’ll be gone from this world and she won’t have a chance again.  But that is her loss, and I can do nothing to force her unless I find it necessary to do so for her own good. In the long run, she has to live her life.  She will come around.

In the mean time, Love is the program that runs constantly in our home.  Not laws. Yes, we do have “house rules” and “social rules”, but those are not based on whether one loves or not, but on necessity to get along and keep things in order, if anyone calls anything in our home “order”.  But we do our best.  But under no circumstances is there a time I don’t love my daughter and my wife.  That is forever. Period. Law or no law.  We live our lives beyond a book of laws. We live our lives beyond a wall full of rules and regulations. We live our lives beyond tradition.  We may make our own family traditions, but that is only for our lives now and we can change that any time we want.  And we are allowed to make new traditions! The bottom line and the top line, the side lines and center, Love and grace is always, always, always the…rule…if you will…of our daily lives.
Join us with Jesus Christ as we live unfettered in His house.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading and for sharing with us your comments.