‘Daddy do I have to?’

Spiritually Speaking

James A. Washington Jr.

There is a question I’ve been mulling over and, if you don’t mind, I would like your input. Does one follow the Word of God because you know you should or, because you have to?

I mean is the faith walk a walk of need or one of sincere desire?

You see, scripture is full of rules. The rules of the Old Testament and the laws of Moses give way to the parables of Jesus and the new covenant of the New Testament.

The question is, do we attempt to abide by the precepts of the New Testament out of fear of punishment or loss of reward, or, do we follow a path of righteousness (rules) because we genuinely love the Lord so much, we just want to please Him?

If you think about it, our spiritual freedom has been blood bought and arguably remains the most significant event in documented history. In the grand scheme of things, the Word became flesh in order for us to reclaim eternal life, that life Adam rejected with but one bite of one piece of forbidden fruit. Jesus’ sacrifice, by design, was an act of love so great that humankind will forever be the beneficiary.

So, in order to claim freedom, a simple act of belief is required; a simple act of faith that demonstrates you understand this really was a sacrifice made by the Son of God. 

From there, do we follow the teachings of Christ Jesus begrudgingly, because if we don’t, we’ll burn in hell or, do we rejoice in the knowledge that someone loved us so deeply that living according to His guiding principle becomes a real desire to please? This sort of behavior is easily understood not to be a purposeless “have to,” but rather a sincere “want to.”

The Christian experience should not be confused with a view of a lifestyle restricted by arbitrary rules requiring one to deny life’s pleasures. Rather, the Christian experience should be viewed as a lifestyle filled with all that life has to offer and then some.

That’s right, more not less. I believe it all starts with knowing. The kind of knowing that sees right from wrong and gives you insight into choosing right over wrong.

This brings me back to the question at hand: Are you behaving in a manner dictated by a set of predetermined rules, or are you living a life based in principle, purpose, conviction and yes, love? One is hard. One is relatively easy. I live the way I live because if I don’t, I’ll be punished vs. I live the way that I live because I believe it’s right and I want to. The former is like going to a job you hate but you have to because you need the money. Where is the joy in that?

I’m sure there are those of you who are much more mature in the faith than I am and can explain this better. But I am starting to see a path that looks pretty good to me. The more I try to understand the teachings of Christ, His life and His sacrifice, the more I understand just how much He and His Daddy think of me. That’s a heaven of a thought and one that should be embraced.

The point is life should be a labor of love and not a labor of necessity. The more you understand the Word of God, the more you understand it to be worthy, not demanding, of your praise.

I guess what I’m asking you is at what point does the Light go on and the questions get answered? At what point do you live free of all the rules?

May God bless and keep you always.

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