Sunday Catechism: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

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Q: What are the reasons for the second commandment?

A: The reasons for the second commandment are that God totally rules over us, that we belong to Him, and that He is eager to be worshiped correctly.

“Why? Why do I have to do this?”

“Because I’m your Father, and I told you to.”

This may be what comes to mind with this week’s catechism question, and it may very well be what turns some people off to Christianity: they see the Christian God as autocratic and possessive, unable to share salvation or enlightenment with other religions or systems of faith.

To do so violates the very second commandment, however, and I would argue that while this preconception actually typifies a worldly conception of love, the full context of the gospel suggests a much different God.

For the world thinks that love is about power but who truly deserves that power? Only One, but He chose to be invisible, unable to be grasped or manipulated by the mind of men. He gave up his place in heaven to be the kind of king unrecognizable to his own disciples in a revolution of love unrecognizable to the world. And our worship is a remembrance of Him.

The world thinks that love is about ownership but only One can lay absolute cosmic claim over anyone, first by right as Creator, but then by right as Savior. That claim was bought by absolute abnegation and complete sacrifice. This is the God who washes our feet, and our worship must be the same heartfelt, profligate expression of gratitude and recognition as the whore’s perfumed anointing of Jesus’ feet. It is our astonishment of who He is.

The world thinks that love is about jealousy and desire, but again that right can only be justified by One who has truly be rejected. Just as he commanded Hosea to stay with Gomer, a prophetic act to not only illustrate a contemporary spiritual reality but also to foreshadow the final spurning of His Son, we have a God who completes and restores His covenant with us, even as we fail repeatedly to meet our own terms. Our worship is then our reasonable service, the only logical response to an illogical love. We choose because, against all reason, He has chosen us.

“Why? Why do I have to do this?”

So to say, “Because I say so” may do the child a disservice because it distorts for them the picture of godly authority, especially in light of the kind of love they see advertised all around them. To always give a detailed list of reasons may do no better, however, because children can just as easily sense that that, too, is not true love and often obscures an imbalance that is fundamentally no different than the first approach.

This is what we must communicate: the love of the Father. It is the only reason we can stand upon in our own authority as stewards of our families.

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