For me it’s Friday and that means I celebrate Sabbath on this day. Since I am a pastor and my Sunday’s are fairly busy, I try my best to practice my Sabbath on Friday’s. I usually don’t answer my phone or look at emails or do any “church” business. Of course like all things I struggle doing this, but if it were a normal Sabbath I would watch a worship service online. I attend an online service on Friday’s along with my wife who is also a pastor and so we worship together on Friday’s. Now this blog is not about Sabbath, but I could write a lot on that topic. Actually, I want to talk about the Law or better the Commandments.
The reason for this blog is that this Friday I watched a sermon where the pastor compared the Commandments given to Israel as ‘guard rails.’ In other words the Commandments guard our relationship with God and others. As the pastor put it, “the Commandments show us our boundaries.” In one sense this is true. Paul says in Romans 7, “What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin.” A lot of people need the law in their lives for this very reason. The Commandments definitely are needed to show us where we cross the line in our relationships. However, for me the Law/Commandments show me a much deeper truth.
No greater Psalm was written about the Commandments than Psalm 119. Psalm 119 starts this way, “Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD. Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong but walk in his ways. You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances. I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.”
For the Psalmist the Law/Commandments are not guard rails, but show us a fulfilling and happy life. This speaks to a deep calling in our lives to live as we were created to live. In the beginning we were created as the Image of God. This means that when creation looks at humanity they are to see God. Therefore the Commandments do not give us a list of “do’s and don’ts,” but they describe how we were created. When we follow and live by the Commandments of God we are living as we were first created. The Commandments are a description of who we were created to be. So the closer we follow the Commandments the more “human” we are.
When we live as humans, as the Image of God, we are truly happy and we find that peace and joy that comes from God. A lot of people see Christianity as a set of rules to follow and when we don’t follow them then God is angry and punishes us. Actually the punishment is not from God, but is a self-punishment because we are living as something that God did not create; we are further from who we truly are. When we do not live as God created us we find ourselves depressed and lonely because we are going against our very nature. The sad reality is that we look for things outside of God to find that sense of joy and peace and we display this sadness in self-destruction.
What God calls us to is not to follow the rules or else, but He calls us to a life of fulfillment. Christ gives us a new way of life through the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can find that peace and joy. Our desires should be for this way of life. As the Psalmist states, “Happy are those who keep His decrees, who seek Him with their whole heart.” The Commandments of God should be how we seek God with our whole heart. We should have a passion to seek God and follow His ways. Not out of fear, but out of wanting to be who God created us to be…