We have been talking about obedience to God. And about how it is not contingent upon keeping a bunch of religious rules.
But one of the things that is often troubling is the fact that, in the Old Testament, it seems that “keeping the rules” is all-important. We see a lot of emphasis on doing things, and doing them right – or else you will have to do other things to make the wrong things, right. It seems that God’s people, under the Old Covenant, were always having to DO the Law, or they got themselves into big trouble.
So… why the change?
And why give humanity the Law, if you were going to do away with the Law when Jesus showed up?
Well, first of all… Jesus never got rid of the Law. He never abolished it. In fact, He told us just the opposite: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) What Jesus is saying is that He simply came and changed HOW the Law was obeyed.
Let me give you an illustration that might help…
Suppose you were wanting to build a table – but you had no experience building tables. You could accomplish your goal two ways.
One, you could find a written step-by-step guide that would take you from step A to step B, and B to C, and so on – until that moment when your table is finished. Rules followed. Table done. But is it built right? You think so, but… what if you missed a step? Or what if you didn’t understand the instructions at certain points? Everything depends on your ability to follow the instructions exactly – or the results could be disastrous. You have a guide, but no experience to know if the guide is actually helping you.
OR Two, you could find someone who builds tables all the time, who will personally guide you through every step. Who is there to answer your questions (why do this here, and that there?), who can show you all the proper techniques. The proper force to apply there. The right way to do this task. The thoughts behind that procedure. In other words, table-building becomes a personal experience – a learning process, at the hands of a master in building tables.
Of course, a table can be built both ways. But which is the better way? Which way assures that everything is done correctly — and without tremendous stress? Which provides the personal insight and feedback that is needed sometimes, in the process?
With the New Testament, God brought something to His people that is immeasurably important. He brought a new way to live our lives with Him. God’s intention for our obedience is meant to be a matter of personal learning and doing. Not the cold, dutiful following of regimented rules. He brought Himself to the process – and made the commitment to walk with us, throughout our life’s journey.
He’s the One Who promised: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
It has been said that you do not need a guidebook if you have the author of the book travelling with you.
Obedience to God is not a matter of how well we can follow rules. It is a matter of listening to the voice of the Master, and heeding His voice – as He works with us.
All God’s rules (the Law) are boiled down to one thing… love – the love that comes directly from His Own Heart. The Love that He desires to display in us, and through us – to change the world.
Prayer focus: God, help me each day to heed Your voice, and to love as You love.