From Robert Jenson’s Large Catechism, on the Ten Commandments:
"God tells us what he has made us to be and will yet make of us:
to hear and obey is only obvious."
I was talking yesterday with a friend about how the Olympics give us a wonderful metaphor on the importance of obeying God’s commands. Paul encouraged his readers to live the Christian life like a runner who was trying to win the gold medal (essentially).
Athletes who compete in the Olympics train their bodies for years to be able to perform the way they do on the world stage, eating healthy foods, shunning any foods or activities that would hamper their ability to compete well.
We understand this and accept it, and yet when someone attempts to do something similar in Christian living, she is usually accused of being legalistic. We think it is a "phase" he’ll grow out of. But perhaps there are spiritual "junk foods" that one needs to shun in order to "run" the Christian life well. Perhaps there are activities that hamper our ability to reflect GOd’s glory in the world. Perhaps, also, there are other "foods" and activities that enhance those abilities and train us to be able to follow Christ more fully.
So we obey God’s commands because they are his prescriptions on how to be what he has created us to be, and is making us to be.
This gets interesting for Christians, however, in that while the Ten Commandments are certainly still binding for us, Christ also told us he was giving us a new command: love one another. In fact there is a kind of circle (or spiral) shape to it. In John 15 Jesus says that as the Father loved him, he has loved us (his disciples), and that if we obey his commands we will remain in his love and experience overflowing joy. He then goes on to say, "And what I’m commanding you to do is love one another."
We abide in Christ’s love by practicing love for one another, which makes it easier to love one another, being as we are abiding in Christ’s love. And around the circle goes, or perhaps up the spiral goes, into greater heights of holiness and love, where we become better "reflectors" for God’s glory, shining into the world what God has shone in our hearts.
God’s grace to you as you train to run the race.