Monday, February 1, 2010

In Praise of Monarchy

If you worship the God of the Bible, you must come to grips with a difficult idea for modern people.

God is a lawgiver King.

Kings are pretty rare these days. The remaining ones tend to be well behaved and show up to do ceremonial things. They don’t threaten anyone. And for God’s sake, they don’t really try to rule.

God is not a modern, constitutional monarch. He rules. In fact, his law is one of His “tools” to transform us into His companions. He gives us law to help us live quality lives.

This lawgiver King is the sort of king who thinks, acts, and rules like a good father. People who submit to His law discover that it brings health and joy to the human heart. Over the long haul, even if it sometimes “cramps our style” in the short run, it lifts us into a new kind of life.

King David said, “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul, more to be desired are they than gold.”

Today I may want to tell a lie, especially if I want to get off the hook for something. That’s natural behavior and If I can get away with it, who cares?

God cares. He tells me to stop.

It’s one of His Big Ten, "DON’T LIE!”

So, if I decide to tell the truth instead of lying, I may learn to face the consequences of my actions. I might even mature into an adult. (Some people do become adults, although some of us are quite old when that happens.)

If I tell the truth again tomorrow and the next day, I may began to strengthen my inclination toward veracity. I may actually develop a habit for truth-telling.

It’s a much better way to live than being a liar!

Another one of God’s famous ten laws says, “THOU SHALT TAKE A DAY OFF EVERY WEEK AND DO NOTHING”.

Can you imagine that people managed to turn this law into a burden?

By the times Jesus had arrived on the earth, there were books and books of instructions about what the Sabbath really meant; how to keep from breaking it and therefore ticking God off and so forth.

What a shame!

God just wanted us to “cool our jets” once a week. He wanted us to think about something besides survival. He wanted us to stay healthy.

If I take a day and do nothing but reflect on my life, read a book, or take a walk, and I do this every week, after several years I am going to be a different man than the workaholic I would have otherwise been. I may learn to enjoy my own company. Perhaps I will even learn to enjoy my family and friends. At long last, I may learn to delight being with God.

God gives us His law to show us a better way to live.

God doesn’t make up rules because He gets off on bossing people around. He gives rules to bring blessing and joy to the human family.

His law teaches us about a better life – a life submitted to the ways and purposes of God.

The children of Abraham received this law and promised to obey it. Alas, their intentions were good but their ability to carry out those intentions were flawed. It took them a long time to figure that out.

That’s the back story to why we have a New Testament. God law is good but we are not.

Christ came to transform us so we would delight in God’s law and live by that law simply because it was in the sincere desire of our new nature to do so.

That is the idea behind the reading in the One Year Bible this week where Jesus tells the Jews: “The Kingdom of God is taken from you and given to another.”

Of course, the kingdom we have is open to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. Most of us have discovered by now that we don’t do any better keeping the law than the Jews did.

Nonetheless, the law is good and reaching for its high standards and failing is still better by far than not having those standards.

Today is the feast of St. Brigid. She was an early Irish Christian who converted from Druidism. When she discovered the good news about Christ, she was delighted to acknowledge Him as king. Like all of Ireland, her life was utterly transformed.

In 1968 on today’s date, Vince Lombardi resigned as coach of the Green Bay Packers. His laws and coaching skills are legendary. The players were delighted to accept his authority because they knew they would become different after exposure to Lombardi’s training.

That’s what Brigid discovered, 1500 years ago today.

He’s a good King!

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