“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5
Do you ever overcomplicate your Christian faith? Do you make it into this burdensome and complex system of do’s and don’ts, robbed of any joy? Do you live by lifeless commands and call it the Christian life? Do you begrudgingly pray and call it a relationship? Do you cognitively believe and call it love? I wonder if you have ever realized how very simple and yet intensely sweet and abundant life with Jesus was actually intended to be.
Consider Joshua’s words to the three tribes beyond the Jordan in Joshua 22. As he calls the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh and urges them to return to their portion of God’s promised land, he warns them according to God’s commands. He says “Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:6). God’s blessing depends on Israel’s obedience to His commands. That seems simple enough, just obey God’s commands. But what are His commands? Are they oppressive? According to Joshua, God’s primary commandment is that Israel love and serve Him with all of their heart and soul. God did not desire simple moral obligation or legalistic compliance but relationship. Tell me what could be more beautiful and life giving than that; a God who desired affection over appeasement?
In later years this commandment is reinforced when Jesus defines to a lawyer the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt. 22:37) With Jesus came a new covenant, a new outpouring of God’s spirit and a new way to the Father. But the goal remained the same: to love God. The reason Jesus can invite His followers to come and take His yoke and thereby find rest for their souls (Mt. 11:28) is that His yoke is not burdensome and it is not dependent on commands except the one to love Him. His command is like if you took your friend to biggest and most beautiful mountain in all the world with the fluffiest powder you have ever seen and told them that the only rule is that they have fun. That’s not a rule! That’s a reward! If we could know this and pursue this I am convinced that service and obedience would follow in the right spirit. No burdens, no legalism, no oppression or dissatisfaction. But instead, joy, peace, passion and contentment.
Have you overcomplicated your Christian life? What does it feel like to you in this very season? Are there things in your life that you need to renew and rethink as you serve and follow the Lord?
Is your service to God joy giving or joy robbing?
Take some time this week to focus on heart health, maybe listen to “The Heart of Worship” and spend time praying and thinking about how to renew the worship of your heart.
By Nicole Heppner | Christina Lake, British Columbia