In July of 1976, Israeli commandos made a daring raid at an airport in Uganda, in which 103 Jewish hostages were freed. In less than 15 minutes, the soldiers had killed all 7 of the kidnappers and set the captives free.
As successful as the rescue was, however, three of the hostages were killed during the raid. As the Israeli commandos entered the terminal, they shouted in Hebrew, “Get Down! Crawl!” The Jewish hostages understood, and laid down on the floor, while the terrorist kidnappers, who did not speak Hebrew, were left standing.
Quickly, the rescuers shot and killed those who remained standing. Unfortunately, two of the hostages hesitated and were also cut down. The third hostage who died was lying down when the commandos entered the airport but stood up when commanded to lay down. He, too, was shot with bullets meant for the enemy. Had these three heeded the soldiers’ command, they would have lived and been freed with the rest of the captives.
If you would begin to interview people who seem to resist Christianity, I think you’d find in their resistance the fear of measuring up. Many you would talk to would see in the faith a set of rules that are restricting and almost impossible to follow, an expectation of perfection that is more trouble than its worth trying to achieve.
While it is true that God has expectations from His children, believers know that His commands aren’t meant to show us so much the difficulty of the task as they are to guide us toward salvation. The commandments of God are not a heavy handed approach of controlling us, they are a loving Father’s way to direct us toward a goal.
This is what the Pharisee’s of Jesus’ time weren’t grasping. They saw God’s commandments as a pathway to heaven, works for the purpose of glory. Jesus came teaching a different message. He changed what was once thought of as laws required for salvation into an instrument of grace.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Following God’s commandments, therefore, is an act of love, not an act of dutiful submission. It recognizes the intent of love in the request, not an unrelenting requirement for heavenly bliss.
In Matthew 22:36-38, the question was asked of Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” He answered this way because our obedience toward the commandments of God are to be based on our love for Him and not our fear of Him. If we love our Lord with all of our heart and soul and mind, following these commands are a given. Not a task that must be completed but an outgrowth of our love for Him.
“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it” (2 John 1:6).
“Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His Word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:4-5).
So, you see, the commandments were given in love and should be received and followed in love. God wants you so much that He was willing to give you guidance. The law does not save you, only His grace could have done that. That is why He sent His Son to be the fulfillment of the law.
Open your ears to His commands. His requests are made to save you from the one who would attempt to steal your soul. The commandments were given, not as a set of requirements to gain heavenly entrance but out of a love much to great to describe. God’s goal for your life is for you to learn the lessons necessary for your next life with Him in paradise. Let love be your motivation. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us enough to provide guidance through Your law. Help us to lovingly follow you and heed to Your commands so that we might keep ourselves on the narrow path to salvation. Amen.