It comes down to one thing
Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants — a land flowing with milk and honey!Deuteronomy 11:8-9 NLT
It sounds complicated and the language of obeying commands is quite off-putting. And there’s a big ‘if’ condition in there. It all seems more like Michel Barnier’s latest “legal text” than a loving God’s guide to good living!
A lot of people like to know the rules and have them spelt out clearly. A constant cry during this year of lockdowns and other restrictions is for more clarity about what is and what isn’t allowed. And in making their own judgments, some people decided they didn’t want to wear masks but did want to host parties.
The Jews of Jesus’ time were so used to a system where living right before God was about keeping the law — following all the rules to the letter — they found it difficult to grasp the spirit of the rules.
Love God, love others
Jesus came and explained that He had come to fulfil the law — He was the way to be right with God. And the practicalities came down to just one rule, more of a principle really. It’s called the Great Commandment because it basically sums up all the others as this: loving God and loving others.
If we genuinely love God, we love what He does and we want to be like Him — including having love for people who are not like us.
Growing to be more like Him is a work in progress for all of us, but in this new Spirit-led and Spirit-enabled way, we end up satisfying the intention of the old law much better than checking off all the rules.
To be “careful to obey every command” isn’t difficult or complicated the Jesus way, as long as we don’t fall into the oh-so-common trap of making a system or a religion out of it. Then the new rules we create in our system, take over from the intention, and we become more concerned with the rules than about living for Jesus.
His way is the good way, it’s a simple way, and it’s what God wants from us.
Here’s a suggested prayer you can use as it is, or as a starting point for your own.
Lord God Almighty, thank You so much for sending Jesus to show us how to live the kind of life You want us to. And for giving us Your Holy Spirit to help us do it.
Help us to live like Jesus, close to God but of a generous and compassionate spirit towards others. Our world could do with a bit more of that
Help us to make a start, so that others can catch on. And thank You, Jesus, for helping us. Amen.