Friday, August 9, 2013

Living His Way--by Linden Malki

There is a common image of the Bible as being full of “thou shalt not”s.  Last week I said that the first commandment in the Bible is God telling Adam and Eve eat from a particular tree. Our friend Michael Weiss pointed out that I had missed the original and earlier command: “God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28). How positive is that!  I noticed when choosing the daily Bible readings the last two weeks that there are a lot more positive commands and teachings than negative.  However, both the positive and negative commands are reminders or examples of the basic concepts: Love, for God and each other; and Follow Jesus.

Sounds easy, right?  If it were easy, we wouldn't need commands. It has been pointed out that if all the principles contained in the Ten Commandments were things we did without being reminded, there would be no reason to “command” them.  We also have to recognize that God is smarter than we are; that doing things His way leads to Him. Look at the positive commandments: putting God first, honoring His worship and His Name; and honoring those who are responsible for teaching us right from wrong. These set the stage for being able to love. The negative ones all speak of respecting and not mistreating each other, again a starting place for love.

It's pretty easy to see the point of Love, but not easy to do it without help. Other people are often unlovely, unloveable, annoying, selfish, hurtful, we all have our own lists.  But it all needs to happen in the context of God's commands. First, we recognize that we can't deal with it on our own; and be willing to give up our own hurts and impatience; and be a channel of God's Love rather than trying to dredge it out of our own limited souls.  And then we ask how our relationships live up to God's standards, which are not only guidelines for our behavior, but a guide for what we should be willing to live with, as well as a prayer guide—listening more than asking.

Living it out is where following Jesus comes in. His leadership leads to His Father. What does not lead us to God is someplace we should not be going, either on our own or following the wrong people.  Here is one of times we have to think about what we are willing to give up.   One of the common things that people may think—both inside and outside the church—is that God doesn't want us to have "good times". What He actually offers is Joy—and again, choices. Do we understand that in the long run, God's definitions of "good" are better than the world's? He's certainly spent a lot of time telling us that! The basic question is really if we are actually willing to live His way.

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