In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (1 John 5:3).
Some friends of ours (Mark & Carol), were headed home Sunday after attending church and eating out. They live in a rural community, so they were traveling on a somewhat isolated stretch of road when they felt something strike their car HARD. There wasn’t another vehicle in sight. Mark looked out his window and all he could see was something very large and it was pushing their car toward the ditch. He lost control and the car rolled over once before it came to a stop. After checking to make sure they were all right, he and Carol looked out and saw the nose of an airplane pressed into the hood of their car! It had lost power and had to make an emergency landing on the (almost) deserted road. In a bizarre turn of events, it managed to land on top of the only car around. As with Mark and Carol, the three people in the airplane were okay.
All five people were wearing seat belts. Now a simple question: Do you think any of the people involved in this accident think that wearing a seat belt is a burden? Or do you think they see the belts for what they are—life saving devices, not something stifling or restrictive. And yet, people will continue to drive and ride without seatbelts. Why? Here some actual reasons people have given;
Seat belts wrinkle my clothes.
There’s dust on them that gets on my clothes.
My parents never wore them.
Pretty feeble, don’t you think? Yet are they any less ridiculous than what happens when disciples allow the idea to leech into their thinking that our Father’s commands are somehow oppressive? To be fair, there are a lot of forces pushing us in this direction. It has been part of Satan’s strategy from the beginning to diminish God’s will by suggesting that obedience is more in His interests than in ours (Genesis 3:4-5). Then too, we live in a culture where our choice (will), is worshipped, so anything that gets in the way of that is going to be viewed as restrictive. Finally, there are misguided teachings, like those found in The Shack. For all of the good it does in refuting a legalistic approach, it overreacts just as badly by presenting a God who has no rules, no expectations, and never has any disappointments. Really? Does Jesus’ life leave you with the impression that God has no commands to be obeyed or expectations in regard to His children? No, John’s words remind us that anytime our thinking veers in the direction that our Father’s will is harsh or unfair, it’s our thinking that needs to be revised.
We’ll do well to remember the commandments are not only an opportunity for us to express our love to our Father, they are one of the ways He expresses His love toward us. And when we obey His commands, we’re loving Him by choosing to enter into His love by entering into His life.
Obedience is relational and a relationship with our Father is definitely not burdensome!