Monday, April 7, 2014
Love with Expectations, Part 3
The Bible is replete with the word “no”. There are more no’s than yes’s in the Bible. This also occurs with the idea of love. Let us turn to the Ten Commandments and consider them momentarily, Exodus 20. What have they to do with love, you may wonder? The first several commandments define the parameters of the relationship between men and God. The first is that humanity should have no other god before Yahweh.
God wants a distinctly personal and intimate relationship with the worshiper, where the worshiper’s interests are not diverted by a “rival suitor”. As Christ our Lord warned, no man can serve two masters, for he will love one and despise the other. Like a marriage bond, God wants us to be devoted and faithful. This is only fitting for a finite being; whereas God can be fully devoted to millions of beings simultaneously, being infinite and omnipresent. There is but one God who is a perfect match for our souls.
The second command is that we do not attempt to create false images of God. God is a spiritual being, and forbids physical expressions of His person and character. Creating pictures, statues, icons, etc of the Lord brings to life how we imagine our Lord to be; not as He has defined Himself through His word. His word is sufficient, and He forbids that we add to it with icons, idols or otherwise. Humanity serves as God’s image bearers, since we were made in God’s image in the beginning, Genesis 1:27, James 3:9.
We are forbidden to take God’s name in vain. This means more than simply “swearing”. Faulty, carnal ventures of any sort that implicate God directly (God supposedly inspiring false prophets, God permitting sinful acts, etc) is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Again, like marriage bonds, you are dragging the name of your supposed beloved through the mire for your own sake. This is not love.
God commanded a day of rest for His people in which they could set down daily attentions and turn their focus wholly on God. We should focus on the Lord every day, but it is good to have a special day of rest when we can gather with believing family or friends and worship the God who is our Savior. Besides, why on earth do you think God would be fine if you seldom gave Him the time of day after He gave His Son to die on your behalf? Marry someone who loves you deeply and then pretend they don’t exist. How long will that marriage remain strong? How long will that marriage endure at all? Sadly, I fear this is actually a cause of why so many marriages today collapse, so it is a small wonder that our spiritual fervor is less than strong.
The rest of the commandments deal with human-to human relationships. This is where we find love defined. God commands children to honor their parents, and it is a command with promise. Paul diagnoses the malady of our day in 2nd Timothy when he, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes: “in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money…disobedient to parents…unloving (to others)…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” 2nd Timothy 3:1-4. Love will turn inward and love of self, even to self deification, will reign. They will also love money, but they shall not love other people, nor shall they listen or obey parental authority. The sin of pride that inordinately focuses on self rather than God is magnified. We have been fed the lie for nigh unto one hundred years now through modern psychology that self is good and to be nourished. Christ tells us self is evil and must be denied; self-denial is necessary to truly conduct oneself as a disciple of Jesus.