He was just a little fellow, sitting on top of his bunk bed with his head hung low. “Son, you need to be obedient. Mommy and Daddy expect you to do what you’re told, when you’re told.” I don’t remember now what he was in trouble for but I do remember his response. “Mommy, nobody is perfect. I’m not Jesus.”
Over the years I have thought about that statement often. At first I allowed this form of manipulation to bring guilt. Maybe, I was expecting too much from a little boy. Maybe my standards were too high. But the Lord reminded me that if I was going to raise my children up according to Scriptures than I did not have the liberty of lower the standard. Sure, my children are not perfect. And sure, they will mess up. And when they do I will be faithful to forgive and love unconditionally just like God does. But nevertheless they are still expected to constantly obey. The bar of obedience will always be raised.
What if God treated His children like most parents treat their children today? Matthew 5:48 might look something like this: “Nobody is perfect but the Father in Heaven therefore do not worry about striving too hard, you’ll never make it.” Or when Jesus gave the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37 it might have looked like this: “You shall love the Lord thy God as much as you can with your heart and soul and when you have time to think about it.” Or I Peter 1:15-16 might have read: “He who has called you is holy, so be holy as much as you can. I know however it’s impossible but try nonetheless.” And if God was like we are Jesus would not have said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Instead, He might have said. “I realize that you’re love for me is not based on what you do, just tell me you love me, that’s enough for me.”
It’s blasphemy to say that God would act like this! Why then do we as parents? Why then do we as Christians? Why then do we as the church? I think it is because most people have broken the second commandment and have made a god in their own image. Most people have made up a god in their mind who has lowered the standard. This is why we have so many people who love to quote “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” and who like to point their fingers at people who are striving to please God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and call these people legalistic. I counseled with a precious young lady on the phone the other day. She shared with me that some family members had accused her of “living under the law”. I asked this dear lady if she knew what I John 3:4 said. It says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Now, call me old fashion, but if sin is the transgression of the law then I want to do everything I can to not break it. Not because I have to but because I want to. I love the Lord and I desire to please Him not in word only but also in deed. (James 1:22) I pray that I will never be satisfied with being partially obedient. I realize that perfection will not come until the day I am glorified and the day that I will “be like him” (I John 3:2). But until that day, I will strive. I will press toward the mark of the high calling. It’s really a matter of the heart.