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[Pause from church ministries series. Reflecting on James's many commands...]
Our King who commands and our Shepherd who comforts are One!
1. We are never commanded anything that doesn't serve Jesus' shepherding goals. He never pushes pause on "good cop" in order to get us moving--i.e. "bad cop." Jesus doesn't wear "hats." So all the commands are kind. Jesus' commands are given in the context of His shepherding.
2. We are never comforted by our shepherd in a way that isn't serving the commands of our King. There is no "coddling." "Mom" isn't keeping us safe from "Dad" until we're old enough to deal with "real life." All the "shepherding" passages of Scripture are stern: "Receive His love! Delight in His grace! He will comfort you!" Jesus' shepherding happens in the context of His commands.
3. When we feel "over-commanded" it is not because we have focused on one aspect of Jesus over another, but because we haven't understood Him properly at all. Moving towards "GI Jesus" and "Tuff Luv Jesus" isn't moving toward Jesus at all but away from Him and towards a projection of our personal "heroic ideal" which we so lovingly call, "jesus."
4. When we feel "over-cuddled"--meaning, we're tolerating gross sin or gross negligence of clear commands--this is not because we have over-emphasized one aspect of Jesus, but because we haven't understood Him properly at all. Our preference for "Precious Moments Jesus" and "'There-There' Jesus" is not "getting to know Jesus better" but "worse." We are projecting one aspect of our "heroic ideal" into the ether and calling it, "jesus."
5. There are no tensions in Jesus. No "good-cop bad-cop." No balance. Jesus is One: "The Lord our God, the LORD, is One." We are the picker-choosers. And we are, then, the losers. For we miss out on the sweetness our Shepherd aims to succor us with in His commands. And we miss out on all the glory our King means to lead us into with His shepherding.
6. When we read a command in Scripture, let us receive it as kindness. And when we read of God's love in Scripture, let us submit to it as unto a command.
7. We all come to Jesus from places of need--things in our life that make Him uniquely sweet to us. And we all notice things in Jesus that we're...less enthusiastic about. But the closer we move to Jesus, the more we see that everything is part of the same, single, work of our Shepherd King: "His rod and His staff, they comfort us"; "God gives more grace, submit therefore." (Ps 23:4; Jam 4:6b-7a)
(Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash