As a parent, this phrase becomes far more common when your little ones get older. As a new parent you often hear older parents saying this phrase, and you think to yourself that you would always want your little one to understand, and to be able to negotiate your way through difficult discussions. The reality is for most of us, that 'because I told you' becomes a last resort and a life saver.
I was feeling like God had said 'because I told you' recently, and was taken back by looking at one of the few commands that Christ gave us some 2000 years ago. He referred to the original law back in Deuteronomy chapter 6 which states:
"Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your mind and with all you strength."
I started looking at this chapter thinking 'phew, I am glad that we are not living like this now, with all these rules etc' and then it struck me. And I realised I saw it all wrong. My focus when looking at the commandments and rules has always been on the struggle and how difficult they might be. However, right in the middle of this chapter, you read of the amazing things that will happen to the Israelites, if they follow the rules - such as houses, vineyards and wells, all of which they didn't have to do anything to get. Here are 3 quick thoughts I that struck me as my hamster wheel of a brain processed this.
1) Rules/Commandments might not be so bad
As part of the nature of our relationship with God, we are called to obey him (this is mentioned numerous times in John chapter 14) and stresses the importance of this aspect of our relationship with God. The reality, is that most of us don't like to think of commandments as a good thing, and so we try focus on other aspects of our relationship, but actually, these rules are so so so much for our benefit, and if we focus on these, and give them the time they deserve, we start to see something amazing happen.
2) The blessings are part of the deal!
Now hear me out!! - our definitions of blessings might be different - yes, having all sorts of cool stuff can be a blessing, but what I am talking about, is a life that is far better than anything I could ever imagine or plan out.
Think of your best life - my thoughts normally linger towards a super (expensive) yacht, 365 days of sunshine and lots of exotic drinks with umbrellas, BUT thankfully, and graciously, God might think otherwise! Keeping Gods commands are not easy, but are for our good, and for our blessings, and therefore the blessings of others and the whole of creation.
Pure satisfaction and peace of the soul, can, and will only ever come from God. What most people search and strive for their whole lives is this form of peace, ultimately a freedom from some sort of drive and unhealthy desire. I love it when Paul says he has learnt to be content in any circumstance (bearing in mind he spend A LOT of time in jail..) it makes me feel a bit more like we on the right track.
3) So what are these Commandments?
I recently looked at this to see what all the commandments are, but thankfully we believe in a simple Gospel, and Matthew chapter 22:37-40 summarised it like a smack across the face for me:
"37 Jesus replied:“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”"
Notice how verse 40 just summarises up in case there was a misunderstanding - ALL of the LAW and the PROPHETS hang on these - in other words, all of these things are based on / supported by the 2 simple commands:
Simple, so why do we make it so complicated?