Friday, April 11, 2014
Love with Expectations, Part 4
The final commandments fall in line after this. We shall not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness (lie), or covet. If we practiced love as the Bible defines it, then we would refrain from all of these, because our concern for others, and our willful desire to promote their good before our own would prevent it. Love’s expectation then is that we are intended to behave like God originally designed us to.
Man was not meant to be self-serving, selfish, cruel and covetous. When we demonstrate these traits we are revealing what has gone wrong with man, and why the remedy of divine love, shown by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, is so important a thing for us. It is not in God’s character to do the evil things that come to us so naturally now; and since God’s existence and presence defines what love would or would not do, we must focus on the being of God to understand what kind of person He intended us to be. Love demands and expects that one should pattern their life in line with God’s revealed character; but this can only be done when one first believes that God’s word is true, and that Christ is our Savior. When we are right with our Lord we finally have the ability to be right with our fellow man.
Let us refer back to the concept of marriage. Numerous times throughout Scripture (both the Old and New Testament) our relationship toward God is likened to a marriage. For instance, consider this passage written by Paul to the Corinthian church: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ,” 2nd Corinthians 11:2. Clearly then a disciple of Christ has entered into a relationship with the Lord that expects certain conduct both toward God and others. Jesus affirmed this when He said “Go therefore and make disciples…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you,” Matthew 28:19-20. Or “you are My friends if you do whatever I command you,” John 15:14. Obviously, we cannot perform either of these commands if we are unaware of who Christ is and what He has said regarding our spiritual state and moral conduct. Does God have expectations as to what we should and should not do? Most certainly. This is not a popular idea today, when all inhibitions are being shaken off and self-esteem and self-gratification are practically deified even within the church. But the Christian should conduct himself (or herself) outside the moral atmosphere of today’s culture. We must understand it to effectually communicate with those outside the church, but we are not to partake of it. The standard of God’s children has not changed since the first disciples went out, following Christ our Lord’s great command to teach others. This must be so because God is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8) in what He is and says, and we are commanded to have the mind of Christ.
The legacy of what we hold to be right and wrong and where the authority to base moral judgments upon has never changed. If a Christian vacillates and comes to conclusions or opinions outside the pale of the Bible then they have changed the foundation of their building, the foundation itself (Jesus Christ) has not changed, 1st Corinthians 3:11. We refer back to our initial question regarding love and its obligations. Does love have obligations? Ask the partners of a successful marriage if there are obligations which both observe and honor, not because it is forced upon them, but because love enticed them into the relationship and love compels them still to keep the interest of the other before themselves. The Bible is a constant reminder from God about His unfailing love for us, but His love does come with expectations as to how a Christian is to behave toward Him. We believe and reverence His word; we trust that His word is our only moral compass in this world and act daily, in practical living, upon this faith. God will be glorified and we may receive the manifold blessings of being a child who honors their Father in Heaven. My mother once told me when I was young that a marriage wasn’t a 50/50 commitment. It was 100/100 for both partners. God has already vouchsafed His commitment toward us, Hebrews 6:17-18. Let us not dishonor Him by treating His willingness to abide with us as though it meant nothing to us. It cost our Lord everything; let it “cost” us our willingness to obey in the face of the world’s disapproval and the shifting moral sands of the general consensus. God’s love is enduring, and if we want to experience it to the fullest in this life, let us understand and acknowledge the expectations that God has for us.