November 10, 2009

The Law of Obedience


I have recently thought a lot about the law of obedience. I must say that much of this has been due to the fact that I have struggled with feeling inadequate and unable to live up to all that God asks of us. I also have often seen the commandments as burdensome. I many times could not understand the reason behind the law; they often just seemed more like a checklist. However, in the last few years I have had, I guess you could say, a change of heart. I have seen the commandments not as mindless rules to bind us to the old ways of life, or numbing regulations so as to curtail our enjoyment of life, but instead laws of power taught to us by a loving God who wants us to have dominion and power over all things. In short, He desires that we become even as He is.

Imagine for an instance a chemistry class. The professor walks in and begins teaching his students how they can cause chemical explosions by adding certain elements together. These explosions can then be used to help better the world. One explosion might loosen the debris that has piled on top of an innocent victim after a severe earthquake. Another might be used to explode within the engine of a vehicle so as to power an ambulance on its way to an accident scene. And yet another might be used to prepare the foundation for a building that will be built for the benefit of mankind. As the teacher is explaining the sheer power behind learning certain natural laws a young student raises his hand. “What you are doing is limiting our freedom! I would rather have a class where I can do whatever I want, where I can just do as I please. You teaching us all these laws and requiring us to follow such strict measures only limits my abilities.”

I unfortunately have often found myself making similar claims to God. When asked why God gave us commandments I would give the standard answers that He knows what is best, or He wants us to choose the right. Though these are true, one must ask why one thing is right and another thing is wrong? Why does God want us to obey the laws as they are? If He is God, can He not change them to whatever He feels is right?

Law is power and power is in law. Just as the chemist or physicist who learn to obey certain chemical or physical laws can harness the power of an atom and produce an atomic bomb, so God gains power over all things by obeying the laws of nature. Why does God give us the laws He does? Because He knows the power that lies within them. What makes these laws right? Because of the power that they wield when obeyed.

God in His infinite mercy teaches us laws of the universe not to limit us but to empower and enable us to become as He is. He does not have us obey laws just so we can be found worthy to join the choirs that will sing eternal praises to Him as He sits upon His yonder throne. No, if God wanted this, He would have made the requirements for salvation a doctorate in coral singing, not faith in Christ and repentance. If God wanted concourses of angels to serve Him forever more, He would have made culinary education and butlery skills as a requirement for exaltation and not love towards our neighbor.

As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said so powerfully “it isn’t that God seeks to shape us capriciously, just to prove that He is in charge; He is fitting us for special chores for which there are righteous and nonwaivable specifications.” In other words, God knows how to be a god, and he desires us to learn these same attributes. He desires that the joy and happiness that He has can be ours and thus gives us laws that we may learn how to come to that point.

Because God loves us He ensures that every command and every law will bring us to His eternal glory and allow us to partake of His power, dominion, and authority. I would invite you from this day to look at each commandment not with the eye of what is right and wrong (though they are that), but to instead look at them with the eye of learning who God is, learning why God is the way He is. For “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

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