The Expectations of God

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Fri, 06/17/2022 - 08:40

In the passing of human history, God’s commandments have also evolved. What at first was a single law to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, became The Law outlined by Moses in the Old Testament which eventually included thousands of requirements. Around ever turn, humanity broke God’s commandments and around every turn God, amended His commandments to draw us closer to Himself, until eventually He came to Earth Himself to save us from ourselves. We know this history, and we tend to look at the timeline of laws as ‘God making it easier and easier’ to be saved. So why is it we refuse to follow the path given to us by God?

Brethren, when Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. But if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth - you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. – Romans 2.14-28

In today’s reading from Romans, Saint Paul challenges us to finally live up to the law as God expects. This was ultimately the downfall of the Jews who had The Law but did not follow it. We gentiles, the present Church, did not have The Law but followed by nature. Now that WE, after more than 2000 years, are the inheritors of The Law, we are the ones who do not live according to God’s commandments….and we wonder why people are falling away from the Church in droves.

The cycle continues to repeat itself. God gives us a commandment. We don’t follow it, so God amends His commandment. The only problem is, the easier God makes it for us to be saved, the harder it is for us to be saved. This is true not because God doesn’t want to save us, but because we won’t even follow the ‘easy’ rules.

The Lord said, "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil. You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." – Matthew 5.33-41

Taking both readings for today, I believe we can see the underlying issue. We want everyone around us to follow the commandments, but we don’t want to follow them. We want to enjoy the mercy of God, as He continues to ‘ease up’ the rules for us, but we expect God to judge ‘those others’ who fall short of the law. So, what does God do? He continues to show ALL OF US His mercy in the hopes that we will follow Him to heaven. His expectation is for “all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2.4)

This week we the Church has been celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church to guide the Church “into all the truth” (John 16.13) Knowing the Truth of God and living according to the Truth of God are not always the same. We know what it is true, now let’s live it. Let’s finally follow the commandments of God, the greatest of which is for us to love God and each other enough.

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