Wednesday, August 25

I have four children of my own ranging in age from 21 to 15. I also teach a bunch of high-schoolers in my living room on Sunday nights. One thing I've learned about dealing with people in general and kids in particular is that you gotta keep it simple. My philosophy as a parent is pretty simple:

1. Make very few rules
2. Make the rules unambiguous
3. Enforce the rules

This has worked well for me & my kids. I think it works because it acknowledges something fundamentally true about humans.

In that vein, Jesus did the same for us. He told us that the entire bulk of the Law & the Prophets was contained in two commands - Love God, Love your neighbor.

Every violation of God's law is a violation of one or both of those commands, right?

I'm no theologian, but I expect that when I am at last fully sanctified, I will in fact love God & love my neighbor perfectly, thus perfectly obeying His Law. Funny thing about love, though - love cannot be commanded. That means God commands us to do the one thing which He cannot coerce us into doing.

Lest I be misunderstood, I fully realize the difference between Love, the squishy affection, and Love, the action that does good to our neighbor. But the command is to Love God and neighbor not just with our strength and mind, but with our hearts as well. You may command my Mind and compel my strength, but sheer force is powerless over the heart.

Seems like there is some sort of paradox here. I can "obey" God's command to Not Steal, Not Murder, Not Commit Adultery, Not Perjure, Not Covet - but if the motivation of my heart is anything other than love, then I am not truly obedient, am I?

Man, am I hosed. Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ, my Lord.

But what does that mean? What is it that Jesus my Lord has done in light of this question about loving God and neighbor? Just this:

He is with me always, having made His dwelling within me, and is now at work in me not merely to obey His commands, but to want to obey. (Phil 2:13)

This is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he says that any man who is in Christ has become a new creature. We become people who actually want to obey God and also have to power to obey.

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