Saturday, February 15, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 57: Evidence to the Contrary

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 57, February 15, 2014
Readings: Psalm 57, Exodus 1:1-21, 2 Chronicles 30, Acts 25, Acts 26

Rules have power. If you can get people to follow your rules, and you can lord it over them, you have control of those people. This is the way people often use rules. Behavior modification. Speed limits are a great example of this - it doesn't address why we should go the speed limit, just if you go faster, you can get a ticket.

This is how many people view God's "rules." As God's great behavior modifiers. The problem with behavior modification, no matter who makes the rules, is that humanity thinks for itself (not always with the greatest results.) And rules that don't address the heart behind them, always become questioned, and discarded. We go faster than the speed limit because we think we can be safe. We lie because we think no one will be hurt. We don't obey God because we think it's just a bunch of rules to make life less fun.

And on the flip side, those that do follow behavioral modification rules are merely following them in hopes of attaining a reward for good behavior, or to avoid punishment. Are these great motivators? What if a reward never comes? Then the good behavior goes out the window. Is anyone really happy when they live in fear of punishment?

But God doesn't work through behavior modification, despite what we think. 2nd Chronicles has a perfect example of God's desires for us - not that we should be different for reward or to avoid punishment, but because He desires our heart to be changed. That we should long for Him.

And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the Levites were ashamed, so that they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. They took their accustomed posts according to the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests threw the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD. For the majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. (2 Chronicles 30:15-20)

I think this is one of the coolest examples of God's desire for our hearts, not our behavior. Despite the people being unclean, having not followed God for generations, God desires an ongoing, increasing relationship with them. And so, God sets aside all the rules and welcomes the lost children home. And not only does He bring them in, He heals them and throws a huge party. (Sound like a well-known parable Jesus told?)

Faith in God is not slavish adherence to a list of rules. It's a relationship. It's God's ongoing pursuit of our hearts, constantly desiring that we should return to Him. The rules are there for our benefit, to be sure (just like those pesky speed limits.) But He's not an overbearing judge. He's a loving father, who wants to welcome us home, into His arms.

No comments: