It is common knowledge that Christians live by commands of God, Father of Jesus Christ. This probably is one of the reasons non-Christians who are well read about Christian beliefs at times regard Christianity to be about blind faith. But is this perception of Christians true?
Do Christians obey blindly?
By the way, the first time I heard the name Jehovah applied to the Father of Jesus Christ, it was from Jehovah’s Witnesses. Then I picked up the credible literal translation of the Hebrew text — Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) — of the Old Testament of the Bible, only to discover the name ‘Jehovah’ was not coined by Jehovah’s witnesses. Rather incredulously, I discovered the word translated ‘Lord’ in modern translations of the Bible is the name Jehovah.
Would you believe the name, ‘Jah’ applied to God by Rastafarians actually is in the Old Testament of the Bible (e.g. Exodus 15:2, YLT)? The name Jah and Rastafarians.
It is true some translations of the Bible render the name Jehovah, Yahweh. We know, however, that while Yahweh is a filled in word, the JAH or Jehovah renditions are not. Well then, next time you hear the name Jehovah applied to God, Father of Jesus Christ know it is biblical, not coined by Jehovah’s witnesses.
It seems well and proper does it not, not to allow Jehovah’s Witnesses own copyright to God’s Old Testament name?
But then I digress.
How do we know Christians live by commands? Consider 1 John 3:21–23, which states:
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.
Clearly, and unambiguously, Christians live by commands. But then wait a minute. What commands exactly do Christians live by? Well, there are two commands, which are, to believe in the name of Jesus Christ, and to love one another, with ‘one another’ by faith inclusive of all of mankind.
The first thing to note here is, belief always is a choice. Embedded in the first command then is exercise of a choice. While essence of the choice to be made is much deeper than it reads on surface, what is important for this discussion is, to believe in the name of Jesus Christ is to exercise choice. Recognition of importance of choice takes us to that wonderful verse known even by non-Christians, spoken by Jesus Christ Himself — a profound verse which emphasizes the fact that Jehovah never forces anyone to believe.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him (‘whoever’ means that while God allows Himself the right to make a presentation to us of His cause, He allows us choose, does not attempt to throttle us into choosing Jesus Christ) should not perish but have everlasting life — John 3:16, NKJV (words in brackets mine).
The second command? That Christians love everyone around them. Whenever love that is outflow of principles such as kindness, forgiveness, patience etc. is under discussion, everyone agrees love always is evident in actions.
But actions connote choices, decisions, effort. In the second command to Christians, we again find that satisfaction of the command requires choices on part of Christians for actualization. Importance of choice is emphasized in the following words penned to Christians in 1Corinthians 16:13–14, and Romans 12:21, respectively (words in brackets mine).
Be on your guard (be watchful so you do not deviate from what is expected of you); stand firm in the faith (do not give up the faith that you have in the name of Jesus Christ); be men of courage (stand fast for what you believe); be strong (exercise strength for staying power). Let all your things be done in love (in order to be on your guard, stand firm, act with courage, and be strong, do your best to ensure all that you do has motive of love for others).
Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good (overcome evil with love).
In the verses cited, it is clear God does not force Christians to love others. Rather, Christians depend on God for strength so they can love others as they have been loved by Jesus. Whenever Christians are faced with evil, they are encouraged to trust in Jehovah for strength needed for continuation in loving choices, decisions, efforts, and actions.
All said and done, it is clear that while Christians live by commands, they simultaneously live by choice. Only a Creator God who loves His creation possesses wisdom necessary for giving of commands that simultaneously endow exercise of choice, strength, and courage.
If the commands given by God are good, yet require choices on our part, why then the commands?
God gives the commands so in our reading between the lines we can realize He commands only because He is God. When we read carefully between the lines, we see He gives us the right to choose our response to His commands. In presence of right of choice, is it not the case that every command ultimately is advice?
Do we all not have commands we obey at work, commands we obey while driving, commands we deem are for our benefit, yet cannot construe to be mere advice? Commands that violated incur consequences? Should we not be awed that God gives us commands as advice, gives us choices?
When we agree with Jehovah that the commands He gives are for our benefit — does any rational society prefer hatred to principled (agape) love as basis of human interactions? — we acknowledge wisdom of principles embedded in the commands. We recognize enlightenment we receive from the principles did not originate within us, are received from Jehovah. We realize the commands in reality, are attempts by infinite wisdom of Jehovah at drawing us towards Himself. Deep within our hearts, we arrive at the realization that whatever Jehovah commands, He commands because He loves, He commands because He wants whatever is best for us.
The love of Jesus Christ is so deep, so wise, so strong, so beautiful, so thoughtful of what is good for me. I am unable to resist.