My family and I recently spent a challenging week out of state in order for me to attend a Christian education training seminar.
It was 4 days and nights of intensive workshops, study, testing, and among other things, Bible recitation.
On top of long days, lots of homework, fighting a cold, and restless nights in a hotel bed, we were required to memorize this passage:
“Here, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” –Deuteronomy 6:4-9
It was a challenge to memorize this passage of Scripture on top of our already demanding load and to recite it daily to our instructors (word for word and backwards, if possible.)
And yet, I learned the most from that seminar through this passage of Scripture.
Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot about Christian education and I cannot wait until the school year begins again as this week made me miss my students incredibly.
But as we began each morning, our instructor gave a devotion based upon the above passage. Each day he covered a few verses until he finished up on Thursday. I wondered what he would cover on Friday, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Our instructor explained the need for us to consider first and foremost that God is Lord. I don’t have time to get into the implications of that statement, but as Christians, we are all striving to grasp a life-changing understanding of that epic truth as well as the implications it has on our lives, aren’t we?
He reminded us that this passage of Scripture is a command from God Himself and that we would be wise to take steps to make it a reality in our lives, in the lives of our children, and for the children we teach.
He talked about how we should be so steeped in the Word of God that it permeates every aspect of our lives.
He taught us how the devout Jews take this passage so literally that they actually bind God’s commandments on their hands and place His words between their eyes, on their foreheads, in diligent obedience to these words.
At first glance, this seems legalistic and too religious. And it might be for most of us, but that doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, does it?
Just because it seems too demanding and too archaic, does it mean that we can disregard these words which the Lord has spoken?
As Christians, we believe in a great many paradoxes, do we not?
Jesus taught that if we want to live, we must die to self.
If we want to be first, we must choose to be last.
If we wait to gain, we need to give.
This passage is no exception.
It turns out that our instructor did have a devotion for Friday morning, after all. He took us through the verses that follow:
“And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” –Deuteronomy 6:9-12
You see, sometimes we only see things from our limited, flawed, human perspectives.
God’s word does teem with statutes, rules, and commands. And our nature is to flee from that which would restrict us.
The truth, however, is that this is where true freedom is found!
God doesn’t need us to obey His commands.
We need to obey His commands; for His glory, sure, but for our ultimate good.
We aren’t enslaved to a demanding God; we are freed in following His perfect design for our lives.
We do need to bind and teach and write His commands, but not with hearts that seek to appease an angry, wrathful God.
We need to love, teach, and obey His words so that we can live in the freedom of the abundant blessings He desires for us.
God’s Word teaches us all that we need to know to live a life free from the burden of sin.
It’s not cumbersome, but rather a covenant.
It’s also a comfort knowing that we don’t have to figure it out on our own. We simply have to trust and obey.
His statues release us from the relentless guilt that accompanies foolish choices and chasing after the wind.
The commands of the Lord may seem confining, but in striving to live a life that honors them, true freedom is found.
Oh, that we would endeavor to live an obedient life knowing that anything less is enslavement to the world!
So, on the heels of celebrating the freedoms we enjoy living in this country, I ask you to consider rejoicing in the freedom we find in Christ and in Christ alone.
Let us not forget His goodness and the incredible gift we have been given in His Son!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for Your Word which does not bind but frees. Help us to hunger and thirst for Your statues that they, alone, might be the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our paths. Help us to soften our hearts towards Yours that we might know the love You have for us. Make the truth that You desire only our best and that You alone know how to give us just that real in our hearts and in our lives. Bless us with Your power, Your strength, and Your wisdom as we seek to live obedient lives for our good and for Your glory. In the matchless name of Your Son we pray. Amen.
What do you think? Have you experienced the freedom of Christ in your own life by surrendering it all to Him?