My friend Jonathan and I got into a discussion the other night over whether or not the "commands" of scripture are really commands, or suggestions. I say commands, he says suggestions. Now, the truth of the matter, as usual, is that he and I are saying the same thing from different angles, but I tend to be a little bit more particular about how something is said; that's just my nature. Calling the instruction of scripture a "suggestion" is problematic because it hints or indicates that these precepts are not necessities for humanity, but merely accessories.
Why do people question scripture? Simple: because we love ourselves more than we love God. If the Bible commanded that people breathe and eat when their bodies were hungry, people would still question it. Our natures are such that we don't like, no, we despise, being told what to do. The commands of scripture are not suggestions, and they are not because God is a control freak or because He likes making rules. The commands of God are not just God telling us what He requires of us, but He is also telling us what we need.
We find ourselves in a fallen state, dead in sin, but Christ came "that [we] might have life, and have it more abundantly". Sin = death; Christ = life. Part of Christ's work on earth was the fulfillment of the law, not the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law, what the law was truly saying. Sin is the opposite of holiness; Christ is our holy example, our holy sacrifice, and our holiness. so when the Pharisees, the most "righteous" men (according to the letter of the law) asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law", Jesus replied, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
Love is not a suggestion; love is a command. why? Why does God command us to love? Pay close attention here.....say the words to yourself: "people need to be loved." Like breath, like sustenance, people need to be loved. It is part of the way we were created. Now i'm sure most, if not all, of you have thought of this before....sure, it's almost common sense....people need love. But here is the second reason God gives us this command; pay even closer attention, and say these words to yourself until the words turn into involuntary actions: "PEOPLE NEED TO LOVE!" You, yes you, need to love. If you don't, you will die a death worse than physical death, and your time on this earth will be nothing close to what life is supposed to be. You, yes you, need to love. What an amazing God we serve! How incredible is He to have created us in a way so that the thing we need to receive most, love, is the one thing that we need to give most. God commands holiness, God commands love. and God provides love. Christ is our holiness, Christ is our love, and because we have Him, not only do we abundantly possess all we need, but we are also free to give abundantly to the needs of others.
You, yes you, are free to love so, please, love freely.