REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of October 24, 2021
Live by God’s Commands Daily: Matt. 7:24-25
We are in Week 38 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. This week we’ll look at Rule 4.63: Live by God’s Commands Daily. As we’ve journeyed down this ancient path, we’ve received lots of instruction on what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. It would be easy for us to fall into a legalistic mindset where we view these rules as a list of do’s and don’ts. Of course, viewing these rules of Christian formation in this way does both the rules and ourselves a great disservice. If we’re not careful, such a mindset will lead us into either prideful judgmentalism or bitter rebellion. As we see in this week’s passage, the commands of God are not meant to restrict or freedom but rather to build a sure foundation upon which we can live a life of true freedom.
In a world racked with chaos and fear, God wants us to live life and live it abundantly. That is why he has given us his commands. God’s commands aren’t meant to restrict us; they’re meant to restore us. When we look back at the Genesis account of creation, God only gave Adam and Eve two commands. He told them to be fruitful and multiply, and he told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That was it. Those were the only commands God gave because those were the only commands we needed. Everything was perfect. But when sin entered the world, our hearts were set against God and each other. As we have discovered more and more ways to rebel against God and hurt one another, God has provided us with new instructions on how to set things right. These aren’t repressive rules meant to enslave or restrict us. These commands are gifts given to us to restore the perfect freedom we once had in the garden. As our Creator, God understands the fear, chaos, and hurt sin causes. When Adam and Eve sinned, they didn’t feel free; they hid from God and turned on each other. God gives us his commands because he understands that his way of living is what we were created for, and it is the only way to provide a sure foundation on which we can build our relationships to God, each other, and God’s creation. While sin promises freedom, our culture has proven that what it actually provides is capricious instability. We are afraid to express ourselves today for fear of how society might judge us tomorrow. Our culture and our relationships are terribly unstable, and if we build our lives upon them, we too become unstable. But if we instead build our lives upon Christ, following his commands in our daily lives, we find ourselves on a sure, unmoving foundation, steady in those storms of life that so befuddle our culture.
In 1173, work began on a bell tower meant to complete the city of Pisa’s cathedral complex. Unfortunately, after completing only three stories of the planned eight, builders quickly discovered they had made a critical error in the planning of the tower: they had placed the tower’s foundations on soft ground which was settling unevenly. Century after century passed with multiple engineers trying different solutions to stabilize the tower. In the twentieth century, the tower actually had to be closed and its bells silenced for fear their ringing would cause the tower to collapse. It was not until 2008 that engineers determined they had successfully stabilized the tower so that it could once again fulfill its purpose. This tower, which was meant to glorify God and sing his praises with its bells, is now known as more of a curiosity for its instability. Instead of being known as the bell tower of Pisa, it is known as the leaning tower of Pisa. As followers of Christ, we have a choice to make. We can build our lives on a firm foundation of faith by following Christ’s commands, or we can build our lives on the shifting sands of sin. Will we fulfill our purpose to glorify God, or will we become an unstable curiosity?
- Think through the commands we have discussed during this journey. Which have you embraced? With which do you struggle? Why?
- Consider our modern culture. Would you consider it free and progressive? Why? Would you consider it unstable and capricious? Why? How can we be different?
- What are some ways that we shore up other believers who may be “leaning”? How do we bring stability to our relationships and our community when we build our lives on God’s commands?