As a young seeker, I spent time at a Christian commune with a group of other young people. While I learned much about the Bible, the group unfortunately developed some fanatical tendencies. Strictly forbidding alcohol, drugs, parties, rock music, dancing, and all other worldly vices, but not encouraging healthier forms of recreation, the leaders created a dismal atmosphere. Many turned to food as an escape—it was all we had left! Fearing that trap, I pretty much went on a starvation diet, ending up with a case of anorexia.
We saw the law of God as strictly prohibitive and prescriptive—as in “don’t do this; do this.” Yet it is, even more essentially, descriptive. In fact, Moses was the first one to codify the law; it existed since the beginning of time in an uncodified form. The law of love had always governed the unfallen universe, from the inside out. Every being lived in a state of continual self-giving, generosity, and joyful others-focus. Angels had no need of a checklist of do’s and don’ts.
At the same time, love has a form and structure, a moral integrity and boundaries. Like the stalk, leaves, and blossom of a plant hold its life, the structure of love serves its sustenance. The law explains this. Lying breaks trust. Adultery violates intimacy. Murder instills fear which expels love. The law, at its core, is a description of how life and love actually work.
Understanding this will help us love God’s law as a thing of beauty rather than a set of impossible rules designed to make us fail.
Jesus said to consider the lilies, so let’s think about flowers for a moment. Imagine a tiny seed swelling in the moist ground. It bursts as a shoot emerges, which, craving the sunlight, finds its way through the soil to the surface. Now it emerges, tender and green, fanning out into stalk and leaves. Then a tiny bud forms, with the promise of gorgeous petals wound tightly inside it. The day comes when the sweet sunlight beckons it to burst open, unwinding slowly in rich, glorious color. That flower is you. God has created you according to a design. He grows you according to that same design. Just as He brings forth the blossom, He guides you into showing forth the colors of love. This is His law of love at work to make you all you can be.
Heavenly Husbandman, grow us according to your design. Help us to live the law of love, and love the law that shows us how to live. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble. Lord, I hope for Your salvation, and I do Your commandments. My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly.” Psalm 119:165-167