Our culture simply cannot see the sense in following God:
Let’s not wait for a solid relationship to grow. Let’s have sex now!
Why get married? Let’s just live together. It’ll be easier.
Solving problems is too hard. Let’s just get divorced.
Proper diet and exercise take too long. I need a pill.
Saving money is hard work. I need another credit card.
Children are too much responsibility. I’m having an abortion.
In all these situations and many more besides, our culture thinks of God’s prohibitions as restrictive (at best) or (at worst) intolerant, controlling, and merciless. But those who cry out against God’s instruction have forgotten one very important fact:
God wants what he wants because it’s best. It’s best for us. It’s best for others. It’s best for the world.
Think about it. If you built something you loved, you’d do everything in your power to protect it and preserve it and enjoy it. I once built my own drum set. It wasn’t the best or the fanciest, but it was mine. I still have it, nearly three decades later, and hope to give it to my daughter once she can reach the pedals. I’m terribly proud of it, and any rules I have concerning it are to [a] protect my drums, so I can [b] give them to my daughter. Rules are for protection, in one direction or another. God loves the world and so he sets us in charge of looking after it. God loves us and so he gives us rationality and instruction to help us enjoy the best life possible. God gives us freedom to enjoy the world and to enjoy one another and to enjoy him. Any restrictions he places on our freedom are in service to our health and wellbeing.
Thou shalt not kill isn’t really such a bad idea, is it?
How about thou shalt not steal? Well, that’s not so bad either. I certainly don’t want anyone taking my stuff, so it stands to reason that I shouldn’t take theirs.
Thou shalt not commit adultery. Not with my wife, you won’t!
You get the point. God knows how to live because he invented life. God wants what he wants because it’s best—for us, for others, for the world. Though it may not feel best now, it will ultimately be proven best.
You might think about it this way: What God wants from us results in what he wants for us.
What does God want from us? Obedience.
What does God want for us? Life. Happiness. Peace. Love. Relationship. Fulfillment. Meaning. Satisfaction. Laughter.
There is a word that sums up everything God wants for his people. That word is blessing. What God wants from us (obedience) results in what he wants for us (blessing).
Concerning marriage, God wants (fidelity, honesty, self-sacrifice, responsibility, love, passion, romance) which results in (longevity, intimacy, knowledge, unity, family, security).
Concerning children, God wants (instruction, admonition, encouragement, care) which results in (closeness, admiration, responsiveness, friendship, love).
Concerning business, God wants (skill, management, integrity) which results in (good reputation, increased revenue, skilled employees).
When I’m obedient, the natural result is blessing. Sometimes, of course, other things get in the way of that blessing. Someone else’s disobedience, for example, can compromise the natural result of my obedience. The thief prevents the honest, hardworking, responsible man from enjoying his fortune. We cannot totally escape these extenuating circumstances, not in this life. But don’t let that overshadow the basic biblical truth that, by and large, when we live life the way God intends, we get to enjoy the life God intended.
Dr. David McDonald is the teaching pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI. The church, widely considered among the most innovative in America, has been featured on CNN.com and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. David weaves deep theological truths with sharp social analysis and peculiar observations on pop culture. He lives in Jackson with his wife, Carmel, and their two kids. Follow him on twitter (@fossores) or online at fossores.com