It’s been a long time since the revolutionary war with Great Britain, but no one has forgotten about it.
That was a time when, although most people stood back and accepted the circumstances, a small percentage of people with a strong sense of right and wrong stood up to defend what they believed to be God-given rights.
Although the active side of that passion for freedom is like a recessive gene (only showing in a select few), we all share a desire for it.
It’s something that comes out when we are oppressed; it appears as far back I can trace civilization. It’s a drive to shake free of whatever keeps us bound.
It’s a stallion fighting the fence. It’s a bird fighting the cage.
It’s a good thing!
It has overthrown tyrannies and established democracies, freed nations and dethroned despots. If there is a purpose to life, surely this urge for unhindered liberty is an integral part of it?
But then again, you have the pot that boils over. Free will at wild can range from being beautiful all the way to being murderous. At the end of the French Revolution, nearly 16,600 were executed with the guillotine*. (There were a lot more executed than that, but this number will work for now.)
That’s a lot of people killed in the name of freedom! Gosh, I’m sure at least some of those people would have been willing to relax the reigns of government in exchange for their life, but no! They just had to be led up to the stocks, locked in, and decapitated.
Domestically, free will at large looks like teenagers pushing at the rules. It’s not nearly as severe, but the danger and damage are just as real. Look anywhere and you’ll find drug abuse, premarital sex, violence, and let’s not forget the absolutely awful hairstyles and tattoos some people expose themselves to just to push the norm (a moment of silence for all those unfortunates who wear misspelled “no regrets” tattoos).
That’s when you need the rules. See, a boy who isn’t trained to treat a woman with respect may one day deliver abuse, verbally or physically. Someone who is not taught to honor the laws of his household may one day dishonor the laws of the state, and end up in jail. A girl who does not respect her own body will not demand said respect from others, and thus risks of being taken advantage of. A child who isn’t taught not to steal a sibling’s toys might one day become a condemned thief. The list goes on. Believe me.
Well, that swings the pendulum now, doesn’t it? Let’s all just fold and beg for communism, then.
We begin to see that a healthy balance is needed. But is that all there is to it? I don’t think so. Let’s begin to hit the nail on the head… dig a little deeper.
Clearly Great Britain was wrong; at least, that is the majority’s opinion. Clearly too, the leaders of the French Revolution could have acted with more moderation.
Clearly, a healthy amount of boundaries in and about our lives should at least be looked upon with a neutral and accepting attitude, shouldn’t it?
And yet, there is no cheer we absorb at the thought of regulation. We accept it almost like an ox, acquiescing to the yoke of the farmer. It’s a necessary misfortune.
But this is nowhere near the way David the psalmist regarded the laws of his time. In his writings (Psalm 119:16, 20, 97, 113, 163, etc.), the way he described the laws that God placed on him is not only with total acceptance, but with delight, with longing, and even with love!
It’s true. David not only received the rules that God has set on Israel, but he sought them out with desperation! He embraced them, studied them, chased them, and devoted himself to them! He begged to be commanded, he pleaded to have the boundaries set about him.
The question of why may never have bothered you before, but it sure bugged me! I could never comprehend David here. I said, “Yeah, we need to obey the law and everything, yeah… but could you go back to writing about shepherds and valleys and the prettier stuff now, Dave?”
Why did he show such affection for the law of God? What makes God’s rules any different from those that we must obey in society, on pain of arrest?
Let’s hit the nail on the head again. Boundaries, both God’s and those of the state, are made to protect what is valuable.
God values marriage. That’s why he banned adultery.
God values human life. That’s why he banned murder.
God values truth. That’s why he banned deceit.
With every law you find, try to see what exactly it is that God is trying to protect. It might surprise you! Does God value comfort? Does he value peace?
And now what about the first half of the Ten Commandments, those that have no apparent consequence in modern society (keep the Sabbath holy, have no other gods before me, etc.)?
This leads us to the final rap of the hammer on that poor nail head. I believe this final point is at the heart of understanding boundaries.
David trusted God.
When you trust someone, and you know that they act only out of wisdom and love for you, you can easily embrace their acts of providence even when you cannot understand them.
That is what makes God’s laws different from the laws of a government. That is what makes God’s boundaries perfect, and even lovable; the knowledge that they were made for our own good!
If you trust the One who created the rulebook, a new light is shed upon the rules. You no longer see them as stern and asphyxiating; you see them as acts of love.
You cannot always trust a government to do what is best for you. You cannot even trust your parents to be perfect (though their experience should strongly persuade you reverence them). But you can trust the God who created you.
When you trust the God who gave the laws, your whole outlook changes.
I pray that one day we can all pray like David did when he said,
So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and I will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.