Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daily Light - February 22, 2012

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"If you love Me, keep My commandments." 
John 14:15

Much of Jesus' ministry was in direct opposition to the religious zealots of His day.  The Pharisees did not like the message of Jesus because it did not fit in to their self-righteous doctrine and way of life.  They believed that every one should adhere to the rule of law in the way which they did.  If a person do not live as they lived they were not right with God.  This is by definition what the term legalism means.
Today we are not much different although we would like to say that we are.  We tend to interpret Jesus and His words based on our opinion and not necessarily on what He meant in the context of what He said.  There are three schools of thought on this simple passage, and two of them are more concerned about self than Christ.
First, there are those that focus entirely on the phrase "keep my commandments".  They would emphasize that if you really call yourself a Christian you would act, talk, walk, and look like one.  The external is every thing with this crowd.  They believe that they can identify "real" Christians with their eyes.  They stress the importance of going to church, having your hair cut a certain way, wearing certain types of clothing, etc.  The problem here is that the heart may not be right but that doesn't matter if all you are looking at is the outside of one's life.  Jesus sees what no one else sees, and He values the heart condition over the surface areas of life.
Second, the pendulum then swings completely the other way to those who concentrate on "if you love Me".  This group doesn't care anything about the external.  Their entire emphasis is in how they feel about Jesus.  They spend most of their time wrapped up in the emotional side of things.  It doesn't matter if you go to church, because as long as you love Jesus that is all He cares about.  You can look any way and do any thing you want, because Jesus knows how much you love Him.  Their favorite phrase is "don't judge me".  The problem with this way of thinking is that our love for God does not give us permission to abandon principles that are clearly given in the Word of God.  God is completely loving, but He is also completely holy and just at the same time.  We must love God, but we also must demand holy lives of ourselves.
Finally, there is the crowd that balances these two phrases and does not see them as contrary to one another.  The Bible tells us that a false balance is an abomination, and we are instructed to not be double-minded.  We are to live by the whole counsel of God's Word and to take it in its entirety as it meshes together.  We are to keep God's commandments, because we love God.  The evidence of our love for God is a changed life.  We love Him so much that we want to be like Him, and we will therefore live according to His Word.  We don't do what we do to please man.  We live our lives to bring glory to the Father through Jesus Christ.  Christ is our motivation!  We don't allow others to bind us into their religious mindset so that they are pleased.  This love we have for Christ gives us the liberty to live out loud our faith.  There will always be those who say that we aren't doing it right, but we do not answer to them.  We answer to One who is above all!
Jesus desires for His children to know His love and return that love.  The evidence of our love for Him will clearly be known by Him through our hearts and displayed by our obedience to Him.  Love and obedience to Christ work hand in hand and liberate us to become what He desires us to be!

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