Law and Love and Christmas
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)
Rare is the man who is thankful for commandments. And if someone is abundantly thankful for commandments, it may well be that they are Pharisaical and use the law to abuse others or exalt themselves. There is that danger.
The default disposition of the human heart is rebellion – that is, anti-commandment – as in Eden. God said not to eat the fruit, so we ate the fruit. Because of our power-hungry hearts, submission to God’s law is not second nature – even for the believer. We may wrongly assume God is micromanaging us or isn’t culturally relevant. We may think his commandments are arcane and don’t apply to our modern society, so we shrug them off.
What if we were to remember that God’s commandments are gifts?
Laws are reflective of the character of their maker. The Nazis demanded curfews out of hate and control, while the parent of the teen demands curfews out of love and protection. The intent behind the law matters, and the heart of the legislator guides the intent. God’s law comes from a love unexplainable, from a God who sent his son to die in our place. We can trust his law and we can even delight in his law.
In order to delight in the commandments of God, we need to know the frame of God’s redemptive plan. You see, under the law we were crushed. We do not keep God’s commandments perfectly – not even close. Before Jesus came, that was the deal. And it didn’t go well. But there was purpose behind this failure. You see, God weaved this period of failure under the law to help us understand we need help. We need forgiveness, covering our sins. We need love, covering our need for intimacy. We need righteousness. We need Jesus. That is where the anticipation comes from on Christmas morning.
Christmas shines bright with lights and candles and joy. We feast and sing and enjoy one another as we together experience the magic of Christmas that we cannot quite explain. The anticipation of it speaks volumes, and I believe it comes from the need in our souls for the grace of Christ. Finding the world has not satisfied our souls, we ache for that which does. Immanuel is the consummation of that longing.
God’s law is perfect, and it necessary for us. The law before Jesus was a heavy yoke which was too heavy for the human shoulder, but after Jesus the yoke changed to Christ’s yoke – which is light. The burden of the law is lifted. Because of Jesus, we can heed the law with the understanding that there’s grace when we fail. We can understand that the law is love just as God is love.
As we celebrate this Christmas, may we delight in God’s commandments. May we delight in our Lord who came to save us from our weakness in keeping them. Oh come let us adore him.