articlesqa January 31, 2016 love from the command
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo EleyinafeCreator and author of
God made me apart so that I could get clos­er.

Si­cut Deus

This morn­ing, a thought oc­curred to me while pray­ing to God. It is an old thought, I’ve had it be­fore but nev­er in this way. You see of­ten when I pray to God, I am con­front­ed by my sins and im­per­fec­tions and all the ways I have fall­en short. “I am a Chris­t­ian,” I say, “I shouldn’t be strug­gling with anger any­more.” Does not God hate sin? Didn’t His Son die so that I might be free? “Lord,” I pray, “Free me from this anger so that I can serve you.” Yet as I am write this now, the words of James in James 4:3,8 are ring­ing in my ears.

Okay then, how am I ask­ing wrong­ly? I’m not ask­ing for mon­ey. If any­thing, I’m ask­ing to be able to do good. To be free from sin once and for all. But the Bible does not lie and James wrote un­der the in­spi­ra­tion of the Holy Spir­it. So what could be go­ing on? It is clear that that God de­sires and com­mands that His chil­dren be good and holy. So what could be hold­ing up the an­swer to this prayer? I have come to re­al­ize, in the course of writ­ing this, that God CAN­NOT an­swer this prayer the way I want Him to. Nope, I will keep on sin­ning and find my­self run­ning back to Him. It is not that God is try­ing to keep me de­pen­dent on Him in the dom­i­neer­ing way of women and men. In­stead, it is be­cause it is im­pos­si­ble to have ho­li­ness with­out God. If He grants me my “ho­li­ness” and I will take my wealth, my new found right­eous­ness and re­turn to the world. I will go out into the world and do good ... apart from Him ... which by de­f­i­n­i­tion is evil. The prodi­gal leaves and there­by be­comes evil.

“You Keep On Us­ing That Word...

But I ar­gue and say to my­self, “What I am striv­ing for is ho­li­ness. What I want is ho­li­ness. Is not ho­li­ness do­ing good and at least striv­ing for per­fec­tion? The Bible ex­plic­it­ly says that I should strive for ho­li­ness be­cause I can­not see God with­out it He­brews 12:14.” Yes, that is cor­rect. But this is not the ques­tion at hand. No one is ac­cus­ing me of a di­rect de­sire to do some par­tic­u­lar evil. The real ques­tion is why I have this de­sire to be holy on my own terms. Why does my heart have this strong de­sire to wan­der? Why is it prone to leave God all the while claim­ing to love Him? It is not a ques­tion whether or not I want to be holy. This is a ques­tion of why I want to keep this space be­tween me and Him. Why does this son al­ways want to flee the Fa­ther and be­come prodi­gal?

Ah but I am clever. Yes, even too clever. In re­sponse, I said, “It doesn’t seem like I’m try­ing to do with­out God. Af­ter all, God has giv­en me free will to make choic­es. Did He not call me friend? So I should be free to do at least some things on my own. If He is my Fa­ther and I am His son, should I not grow up and at least leave home, able to make my own de­ci­sions?” Fi­nal­ly, in these ques­tions, I am clos­er to see­ing my heart. This is the ques­tion of Eden. This is the ques­tion of the son and daugh­ter who must grow apart from their par­ents but can­not yet see that they only grow apart from mom­my and dad­dy in or­der to grow clos­er to them. This is the ques­tion that un­rav­els mar­riages since hus­bands and wives must grow apart but only so that they can grow to­geth­er. Through this ques­tion the dev­il fooled Adam and Eve by telling them the an­swer was to seek free­dom from God and be­come si­cut deus (like God).

Yet as usu­al, the dev­il of­fers to us what we al­ready have. Adam and Eve were al­ready free from God. God made them that way and this free­dom from God was not an evil state. God did not make them evil and He did not make them with what oth­ers say is a po­ten­tial for evil. Our re­la­tion­ship with God is mul­ti­di­men­sion­al. He is my Fa­ther and I am His son. I am His friend, not by my pre­ten­sion, but be­cause He calls me friend John 15:15. And yet He pre­vi­ous­ly said John 15:13-14 mak­ing it sound like I am still His ser­vant. That He must be my Lord is em­pha­sized fur­ther in 1 Cor 12:3. This can at times be con­fus­ing. It is dif­fi­cult to be obe­di­ent to a friend since fa­mil­iar­i­ty tends to breed con­tempt Mark 6:4. So maybe its bet­ter just to be a ser­vant. But now my Lord calls me His friend. How can He call me friend and yet con­tin­ue com­mand me? How can obe­di­ence be ba­sis of a friend­ship, of love?

...I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.”

I would seem that I am again guilty of abus­ing some words. This time, the vic­tims are “free­dom” and “friend”. In gen­er­al, we are taught that free­dom means the ab­sence of bound­aries and that a friend is some­one who lets you do what­ev­er you want to do. Yet re­lat­ing to God re­veals the true mean­ing of these words. When God be­friends us, He cre­ates a dis­tance be­tween us and Him and there­by al­lows us the free­dom to be our­selves. Yet, as Bon­ho­ef­fer said, we can only be our­selves as long as we are our­selves for Him. This is the point of the whole Bible. To steal some more from that won­der­ful man, we were made free from God so that we can be free for God.

The pre­ced­ing sen­tence should not real­ly come as any sur­prise. Look at all your friend­ships. Con­sid­er the ones that are good and the ones that bad. In the good ones you will like­ly find that the oth­er per­son is free in your pres­ence but their free­dom does not re­strict your own. You are free around them in such a way that they are still free to be them­selves. Free­dom is not a mar­ble stat­ue. Free­dom is a liv­ing for­est. Free­dom is a con­ver­sa­tion and a re­la­tion­ship. In your good friend­ships you are free and yet you do not strive for a free­dom from the oth­er per­son. In­stead you strive for a free­dom that is for the oth­er per­son. This is the only way to be a good friend. You turn your free­dom from the oth­er into a free­dom for the oth­er. This is the func­tion­al, prac­ti­cal de­f­i­n­i­tion of love. Love is what you are do­ing when you shape your free­dom from the oth­er per­son into a free­dom that is for the oth­er per­son. I clear­ly am sep­a­rate from you and don’t will­ing­ly have to do any­thing for you. Yet love is when I use my free­dom from you for you. Love is when I see and use the in­evitable space be­tween us as a means of get­ting clos­er to you. An­oth­er word for this is pur­suit.

It is the tak­ing up your life in or­der to lay it down. It is what Je­sus did when He came here to die on the cross. As Cre­ator of every­thing, He was clear­ly free from us and yet He used this free­dom from us, for us. Unto the death. There­fore He said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” And lat­er in John 15:15, He calls the dis­ci­ples friends. When He said in John 15:14, that they are His friends if they do His Com­mands, He is say­ing, “I have be­come your friend by turn­ing my free­dom from you into a free­dom for you. Now I am al­low­ing you to be­come my friend by giv­ing you the op­por­tu­ni­ty to do the same for me. Shape your free­dom from me into a free­dom for me by obey­ing my com­mands.”

Agapē Pará En­tel­lō: Love From The Com­mand

Love and the com­mand are in­sep­a­ra­ble in both heav­en­ly and earth­ly re­la­tion­ships. Any de­f­i­n­i­tion of love that does not in­clude the com­mand is a dark­ness that un­rav­els in the light. The dev­il’s lie was to trick us into col­laps­ing a mul­ti­di­men­sion­al re­la­tion­ship with God into a fu­tile es­cape from Him. Adam and Eve were tempt­ed into pur­su­ing a free­dom from God as if God hadn’t al­ready made them free from Him. In­stead, they should have been us­ing their free­dom from God, giv­en to them by God, in or­der to be free for God. In oth­er words, they should have been lov­ing God.

The first Com­mand God gave to Adam and Eve was not a con­straint. It was not a temp­ta­tion to sin. It was an in­vi­ta­tion into friend­ship. Every oth­er com­mand from God since then has only been an ex­po­si­tion of that first com­mand. By com­mand­ing them not to eat of the tree, God was en­cour­ag­ing them into a love for Him. It is not a sur­prise then that the first Com­mand­ment at Sinai was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteron­o­my 6:5 Only by His Word of Com­mand, could He make Him­self vul­ner­a­ble to their love.

Just imag­ine how frus­trat­ing it would be to have a friend who did every­thing for you but whom you could nev­er do any­thing for. Imag­ine try­ing to be a friend to a per­son with­out know­ing their pref­er­ences, with­out know­ing their likes or dis­likes. Now imag­ine that This Friend was far Greater than you and not any­thing like you. Imag­ine that this Friend made you. His Thoughts were not your thoughts and His Ways were not your ways. At least with a hu­man be­ing, you can guess since peo­ple are all es­sen­tial­ly the same. But un­less God tells you, you could nev­er be­gin to guess at His De­sires. How would you ever get God a gift? You wouldn’t even know what He want­ed or whether your at­tempt at a gift was in re­al­i­ty the deep­est of­fense?

The com­mand­ments of God are a list of God’s likes and dis­likes. He gives them to help you be­come His friend. Of Moses, His friend, it is said that he knew God’s ways while Is­rael only knew His acts Psalms 103:7. Hence, God is deeply touched when David thinks on his own to build God a house 2 Samuel 7:1-9, 12-16. God did not com­mand David to build Him a house. In­stead, David used his free­dom from God to be free for God. Fi­nal­ly, here was a man af­ter His Heart. Here was a man who un­der­stood and pur­sued the beat­ing Heart at the cen­ter of His Law.

The Word Heals

All the pre­ced­ing can ei­ther have been a rev­e­la­tion or a source of con­fu­sion. I think right now I am some­where in be­tween. But I know it is truth. So keep con­sid­er­ing your re­la­tion­ships and then prac­tice obe­di­ence to God and this truth will emerge. Of­ten as a Chris­t­ian, you must hold on to and find the uni­ty be­tween two seem­ing­ly op­pos­ing thoughts. In this world, this uni­ty and in­sep­a­ra­ble de­pen­dence be­tween love and the com­mand is not com­mon­ly said and rarely prac­ticed. Their uni­ty is what, on earth, we call a para­dox. Yet in heav­en, this is called log­ic. In the be­gin­ning these thoughts were not op­posed. Adam and Eve ate and spend time with their Lord, the Cre­ator Gen­e­sis 3:8. Yet as the verse shows, what had been a time of fel­low­ship, through sin be­came a time of hid­ing and op­po­si­tion. So also, these two ideas of free­dom from oth­ers and free­dom for oth­ers seem to be in op­po­si­tion now but only be­cause of the first sin. When you put them to­geth­er, they re­act to pro­duce that most pre­cious and rarest of gems called love.

This thought, like the many oth­er so called Chris­t­ian para­dox­es we have been deal­ing with, was once a uni­ty. But sin and dev­il has di­vid­ed them. It is not for noth­ing that he is called the fa­ther of lies. He is the cor­rupter of words. Yet Je­sus is the Word Un­cor­rupt­ed. So lit­er­al­ly, He is the Uni­ty be­tween these ideas. Not in­ci­den­tal­ly, God is Love 1 John 4:8,16. Trans­lat­ed, He is Free­dom from us Who de­cid­ed to Be for us 1 John 4:10 so that Paul says where the Spir­it of the Lord is, there is free­dom 2 Cor 3:17. Think these thoughts in your head and uni­fy them in Him. He has come to not only re­store our spir­it and bod­ies but also to heal and re­store our lan­guage and our thoughts.

When an­swer­ing any ques­tion, you must con­sid­er the space of rea­son and imag­i­na­tion the ques­tion is invit­ing you to en­ter. This par­tic­u­lar ques­tion is about . It in­vites you to imag­ine your self in the place of Abra­ham and asks you to con­sid­er whether you would do as Abra­ham did. The ques­tion then is dan­ger­ous be­cause: 1 You can­not ap­prox­i­mate Abra­ham by your imag­i­na­tion. You did not walk away from 70 years of idol­a­try among a na­tion of idol wor­shipers to wor­ship The Liv­ing God in a for­eign land. You did not wait till you were al­most dead for the child that God Promised you. You don’t know what th...
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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 2:3