When I was studying to be a public school administrator we spent a lot of time looking at law. In particular we studied the difference between the word “shall” and “may.” Legally, the difference between these two words involves your job. “May” is an option–it’s your choice. “Shall” is a command.
Matthew 4:10 – Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”
In Matthew 4, we get the double-shall. Sure seems commanding right? So we oblige because we want to be compliant to the demands of God. We worship because he commands we shall.
But this just doesn’t resonate with me. When I worship, little satisfaction comes from the knowledge that I’m fulfilling a command.
When bosses command me to do something, I do it; but I don’t feel a connection with them as I’m doing it. When I worship God I feel a connection with Him, even though I’m fulfilling a command. What gives?
1. Relationship Trumps Commands. When I married my wife, the preacher commanded that we were married. But I’ve found my marriage is more satisfying when I live according to relationship and not command. And when I live in relationship the command follows. I don’t even have to work at it. I may be commanded to worship, but when I live in relationship with God, I find myself worshipping without even trying. The command obeys relationship.
2. God Loves Me. The commands in Scripture are not there because God is a dogmatic celestial being controlling every facet of his subjects’ lives. They exist because, by following them, I’m doing what’s best for me. God’s “commands” are a description of his love. Worshipping God is the equivalent of eating healthy vegetables–only they taste like chocolate chip cookies.
What do you think should be the third reason? How do we balance the command to worship God with the relationship that gives life to the command?