ARE GOD’S COMMANDS BURDENSOME?

Rebellion is a way of life, an inborn tendency for man. Submitting to authority or a set of rules is anything but natural for man. So it follows that when man is asked to submit to God and his laws, a groan arises from the soul. The presumption is that God’s laws are burdensome and submitting to them somehow diminishes one’s freedom. However Jesus’ words paint a different picture,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

One way to understand this apparent contradiction is to picture a family, where regular affairs are run and kids are raised with the general understanding that certain rules in the family must be kept- going to bed at a set time, ensuring that everyone sits together for family meals, restrictions on how much television you can see, being honest and respectful, completing assigned family chores and so on. Imagine a new person, perhaps a young relative, a cousin, who decides to spend some time living with this family. Without a doubt, if that new person has not been exposed to such a family dynamic, all this would seem too burdensome. Finally when the cousin enquires of the kids as to why they submit to these rules, they say that more than anything else, it is the security of a love relationship that they experience within the family that makes these rules not burdensome but realistic.

For a person who understands that God loves him and cares for him and would never ever bring any harm to him, keeping rules is the most natural thing to do. In contrast, a person on the outside who has never known that loving relationship with God will always look at his commands with skepticism.

Second, following God’s commands is about rejecting instant gratification for delayed satisfaction. Much like a student to gives up the pleasure of an easy daily life to achieve academic success at the end of the year, obeying God is about rejecting an easy life so that ultimate good follows, sometimes that good being delayed on to eternity.

Finally, no one is truly free– we are slaves to someone or the other. The principles we live our lives by are never truly our own- they have been formulated in us by religion, society, family, logic, education and philosophies of various sorts. In submitting to God, man is not sacrificing his freedom to slavery to God; he is simply substituting one master for another; albeit God as a master being infinitely better than any other.

 

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