In other words, they weren’t commands they were suggestions on the right thing to do when walking the Christian walk. They were suggestions on how to make decisions and do the right thing. He suggested that if we were disciplinarian parents we should consider how God speaks to us in the books of Paul and be less imperative with our children. My mind instantly revolted. I should say that after giving it thought I realize that since he is the parent of college age children he is probably thinking more in the teenage mode in which case he is right. Teenagers need guidance but they also need to be allowed to make their own (hopefully) wise decisions.
However, in the case of children the ages f DramaQueen and Stinkerbell, to make suggestions and allow the child to make decisions about issues of life and death and health and illness is to ask for a disaster. Even to allow your child to always decide what they are going to eat is to invite a disaster when they are old and pay the price for a life of poor quality food with heart disease and diabetes. Children need to learn to obey and they need a firm understanding of cause and effect before they can make their own decisions.
I once heard it suggested that the need for children to learn to obey isn’t just a health issue and the command isn’t really about obeying parents. Children who learn to respect and listen to the God-given authority of their parents are much more likely to hear God’s will in their life and listen to it and to make good decisions because they’ve learned the habit of listening and obeying.
I was mulling the above for the rest of that Sunday and the following Monday. That Tuesday I was given the foundation that my ideas were wanting. The scope of the Bible shows us the nature of growth and the movement from the need to have strict rules and an enforced adherence to those rules to the time when freedom is given and decision making is allowed.
People often complain of the harshness of the Old Testament God. The Ten Commandments are without a doubt imperatives and often when people disobeyed the rules set forth in Exodus and Leviticus the result was instant death or at the very minimum very painful. IN the New Testament, we are told in James 1:25 that freedom is found within the law and Jesus summarizes the Ten Commandments into two laws that are all about love, “This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:38-40
Why? Most people think God changed. He didn’t. The penalty for sin is still death, only now if we confess our sins and repent we are forgiven rather than punished by instantaneous death. So why are the rules gentler? It is simple. In the Old Testament, God was working with an infant nation that needed to grow physically and spiritually. It needed to be preserved until the day that Jesus was born. Parents do the same thing we are preserve our children until they reach maturity. Until they are mature, we must protect them and sometimes protection is a strict rule.
After Christ died, the nation of Israel no longer needed preservation they were grown up and their role as Jesus family had been fulfilled. God now allows his Church to come to him. Until Christ, God’s people were a small tribe in a vast world of temptation and needed to be preserved but still they were unfaithful and wandered away. No longer does God hold His People tightly. He sets them free and allows them to come to Him and allows them to suffer the results of their poor actions. They are teenagers. Like the prodigal son, we screw up but we are always welcomed home. God does not tie us to His apron strings any longer.
Someday we will be adults and will join God in our celestial home.
I love how complex the Bible is and how it resonates and means and supports so much in our life. It is a complex document and to think that it could be written without divine oversight is absurd. I am always amazed at how if one starts thinking about the choices we need to make and start using Jesus’ summary of the law to make a decision, we soon discover that the right decision (made in love) always falls into the obedient side of the either/or of the Ten commandments. How profound that those seemingly harsh and excessively strict laws actually teach us the mature and right way to Love!