Sunday, May 28, 2017
Flipping the Switch to Love
"And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil." Deuteronomy 11:13-14
I love predictable outcomes. I appreciate that when I press a button on a tv remote control, I will get to watch the show I want. I am so grateful every time I push the start button on my dishwasher to begin the amazing transformation of dirty to sparkling clean. Flipping a switch to turn on a light is just brilliant. Dependable wifi makes almost everything, including this blog post, so much easier. I have recently realized that my desire for things being predictable strongly influenced my relationship with God. Just like flipping a light switch, I read the Bible to figure out how to get what I wanted and needed from God.
My desire for predictability lead me to passages such as those in Deuteronomy that basically said, "If I obey God He would bless me." Here's an example from Deuteronomy 28:2 "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.5Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out." (emphasis mine)
I wanted blessing so I decided I needed to flip the switch by obeying. As a logical person, this made perfect sense. This goes back to learning "if then" theorems in geometry. If I am obedient, then God would bless me.
I memorized scriptures like 1 Samuel "But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.""
These scriptures convinced me if I obeyed, I would be blessed and I wouldn't have to make sacrifices. It was just what I was looking for to meet my need for predictability. It really was a win/win. God got obedience and I got blessings.
Going down the path of predictable obedience can lead to legalism- when people begin to worship the laws as the source of blessing rather than the Law Giver- and I thought I was doing pretty good at avoiding legalism until I got into a conversation with my friend April. She is a vegetarian and after talking to her about her love of animals, I was a little worried she might have let her love of animals go too far. As she shared with me her heart for all creation as evidence of God's love, I realized that she had chosen to live every part of her life in worship and adoration of the Creator. She would exercise by kayaking mountain lakes to worship God and marvel at the beauty all around her, she writes poetry to put into words her adoration of God, she leads music so that others join her in worshiping God and what she eats or doesn't eat was also her act of worship.
After talking with her, I realized that I don't exercise out of love and adoration for my Creator but out of obedience to be a good steward of my body. Even what I eat is motivated by obedience not by love. Many years ago, I was obedient when I felt God called me to give up milk for Lent and as a result, I was miraculously healed from arthritis.Truth is I loved ice cream and cheese but I was obedient because I wanted the blessing. I give our tithe out of obedience not because I am motivated by a passionate love for supporting the church and its ministries. Obedience leads to blessing because if then statements based on God's Word are true, as a result, I have been spared much heart break and blessed with countless blessings because of my obedience.
There is no doubt that obedience for the sake of obedience alone leads to blessings but after talking to April, I realized that I have missed fully enjoying the blessings of obedience because I saw everything as a task rather than an act of love. While I love God and am certain He loves me, worship and adoration of my Creator weren't my motivation.
Going beyond obedience to adoration is so important that when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He said "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke .
Jesus was paraphrasing the Deuteronomy 11:13-14 "And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil." Focusing on the phrase "obey my commandments" meant the people of Jesus' time studied hundreds of commandments and laws but they had missed that they were supposed to love the Lord with all their heart and soul.
I have realized that basing my actions in love even translates into my relationship with my family. When I cook dinner I have a choice to decide, "Am I doing this as a duty or as an act of love," when I kiss my husband, is it a duty or an act of love, when I buy a birthday present, am I doing it as an act of love, what about when I unload the dishwasher or take out the trash? If thinking this way can transform the most mundane parts of my life, how much more revolutionary will it be in my relationship with God?
I have to admit -I am still trying to figure this out. This is pretty revolutionary for me so I would love to get your perspective. How do you live every part of your life in adoration of God? How do you let your love of God allow you to experience life beyond predictability? Let me know your thoughts.