I’m not sure anyone uses the word commandments apart from talking about faith in God. I’ve never heard a parent say their child wasn’t listening to their commandments. Teachers and other educators don’t use that language either. Instead, we have instruction and wisdom to share. Yes, there are rules that need following, but, still, we don’t call them commandments. That would seem harsh and antiquated.
Of course, you can easily find commandments in scripture. That’s why it’s easier for us to link God and commandments. The Lord has a lot of rules we should follow, it seems.
For sure, there is no ignoring what God commands. Even so, maybe there’s another way of considering what these commandments are. To be sure, I don’t want to suggest to you we aren’t called to be obedient to God. Don’t go telling the bishop I’m leading you away from obedience. Quite the opposite. I’m hoping to guide you to greater obedience to Jesus.
What if we thought of God’s commandments as God’s wisdom and instruction? Might that help us appreciate more what God desires for and from us?
For example, Ephesians talks a lot about who and what the church is. A little tongue in cheek, we are God’s gift to the world. God’s love has transformed us and the Holy Spirit continues to remold our hearts. So, our shared life becomes God’s witness to the world.
We can’t claim transformation if we don’t change. A watching world will not find great comfort in a church that mirrors every other people group. In Ephesians 4, for example, we see the commandments Paul outlines as more than things you better stop doing. Since you have a new life, you are different. Your willingness to tell the truth is a sign of God’s new creation within you. As is the thief’s willingness to stop stealing. We watch what we say because our words and attitudes offer clues to the work we’re allowing God to do in our heart.
That’s a lot different than doing something just because I’m told to do it. As we follow God’s wisdom and ways, we learn what abundant life really is. And we discover the joy of following the way of God.