Commandment of the Day: “Be kind and compassionate to one another …”
Are you looking for a commandment that will get you into God’s family? Think about that idea for a minute with me. Did you do anything to get into your family of origin? Your parents are the ones who brought you in: whether by natural birth or by adoption. All you did was show up.
Likewise, God gets you into God’s family. You may have been old enough to have agreed to join the family. But whether you knew it at the time or not, God was the one who did all the work to make sure you got adopted.You’ve heard people say “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9) as if it’s a magic formula. Unfortunately, there aren’t any people capable of working the miracle of getting another person into God’s family. God does the miracle. Once the miracle has been done, we can see it in the way people live.
So Why Are There Commandments?
So then what are all these commandments for? Simply enough, they describe how God’s family lives.Didn’t your family of origin have some basic rules? Things like:
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Brush your teeth before you go to bed.
- If you make your sister cry one more time, so help me, you will regret it!
Three Purposes for Commandments
Okay, so that last rule isn’t a great one. A lot of us grew up with not-so-great family rules. God, being God, has established rules that are much better for us. If you look at them as a great sweep, over many years of human history and different human cultures, they describe:
- The focus for God’s family
- The character of God’s family
- The behavior of God’s family
Given that God has given rules for many times, many different cultures, and ultimately every person every where, it might be expected that sometimes the rules would seem to clash. To use a very 21st century American analogy: both a President and a web developer may be expected to be kind (Eph. 4:32). But a President is expected to be kind in giving direction that acknowledges recommendations from others; a web developer in taking direction from others and weave it together into a project all can accept.
Huh. Maybe a President and a web developer have more in common than I thought. Or maybe Congress should try build a web site together for a while instead of trying to legislate.
But I digress.The Westminster catechism says that the Bible teaches us the overall purpose of our relationship with God is to “worship God and enjoy God forever.” The commandments represent a much smaller part of what God teaches us about our relationship with God and each other. The commandments are the tool kit by which God builds the family of God here on earth.
Over the next weeks and months, we’ll look at many of God’s commandments. Until next time, enjoy living in the freedom of faith!