Love And Faith
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (Deu 10:12-13)
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Mat 22:35-39)
I wondered about this for some time. Is it Ten Commandments, or is it six-hundred and something altogether? But the rabbis said it all comes down to two (and Jesus confirmed it):
So then -- how does this all work? The commentators like to divide the Ten into two sections and say that the first part is Loving God and the second part is Loving one another. Perhaps. I always had this problem: OK, I can see loving God because He is good, but that part about loving one another? Hmmm.
Then one day I understood. To LOVE GOD includes LOVING WHAT GOD CREATED AND LOVES. I don't have to find what is good in others by my understanding. All I have to do is see others as God sees them. After all, "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son." If He does that, then maybe it's just a matter of Loving God, which includes loving what He loves.
You would not dishonor those you love.
And, you would not do any of those things to what your loved ones love either.
If God loves us, then for me to hate others is to say in effect that God is wrong to love mankind. It says that you think God is a liar and a fool. Ponder that. All of this creation is His and if I destroy a life I have stolen what was God's.
But what about idolatry and taking the Lord's name in vain? Is God so petty that He can't stand the competition? Well, the devil is the father of lies but God is all about Truth. If we put anything equal or above God, we have lied. We have said there is something greater than Him. Thus, idolatry is simply another form of lying and the work of the devil.
As for the Sabbath, God says we can trust His provision. We don't have to be working, working, working all the time to survive. A portion of our time (like a portion of our money) is to be set aside just for God's use alone.
But if we go it alone, based on our own desires and limited ideas, we end up in a whole lot of trouble. God still respects our choices, and we have to face the consequences of those choices. Better to choose to let God lead.
There is an obedience that is born from fear. There is a better obedience that is born out of Love. Do we obey God because we fear Him? Yes. But it's much better to obey God because we Love His majesty, trust He has our best interest in mind, and acknowledge that He knows better than we do. That is called faith./p>
To have faith in God is to Love Him; to Love Him is to have faith.
Now we must go one step further:
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Gen 2:16-17)
Do you really think that the commandments of God are a list of what is good and what is evil that are to be understood as rules to live by? That would be giving man a tree of knowledge of good and evil to eat from.
We tend to be very anthropocentric in our thinking. We should be theo-centric.
(For those who don't own a dictionary: anthropocentric is "man centered", theo-centric is "God centered")
Being man-centered we tend to think that it is all about US. ME ME ME. We want to think that God gave us a set of rules to follow so that we could then be good and God would like us. Nonsense. REALLY! I Mean it This Time. It is nonsense to think that if we just had the right set of rules to follow, and followed them all the time, we would be good and approved of by God.
NO NO NO. The list of what is good and what is not good is a DESCRIPTION OF GOD'S GOODNESS. To live by those rules is to learn by doing. We are supposed to learn what God is like. Get it?
OK. An analogy for those a little slow on the uptake. Supposed you take on the role of an actor in a play, say Hamlet. Now, to play Hamlet in a believable manner you have to psychologically become Hamlet. You have to put aside your own manner of speaking and vocabulary and mannerisms and put on something else. In so doing you get a really good understanding of the moral issues that the character embodies. But -- (this is really important) -- you never become Hamlet existentially by playing the role of Hamlet.
Make sense? You can follow the commandments of God and get a psychological understanding of God's nature that way. You can put on display the attributes that describe God's goodness. You never become like God by doing that. Thus, "by works of the Law is no man righteous."
The other way to see what God is like is to look on Jesus. He was "the law incarnate" - a perfect display of God because (unlike us) he wasn't just playing a role. No man has seen God; but those who have seen Jesus have seen God, in other words. He becomes our model rather than trying to figure out a complicated set of rules. But wait - it gets better.
Jesus could be the embodiment of God because He had the Spirit of God living in Him. That's the amazing promise we are given. That same Spirit can flow in us and by that Spirit we are directed in our choices in life. All that is needed is to give in to the leading of that Spirit - have faith.