The Great Exchange - 2

In my last blog - The Great Exchange - 1, I talked about the misinterpretation of my young mind from the word “love” to the word “please” in God’s greatest commandment, the commandment to love.

In her book, "The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands," Lysa TerKeurst, of Proverbs 21 Ministries, puts forth the idea that we can cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love. She says, "We must not confuse the command to love with the desire to please." When I read her words, I thought Lysa had read my soul.

It is understood that children learn behavior from their parents' actions rather than words. Because I believed what was lived out before me in my home and church, I knew if I couldn't please God, then I couldn't please my parents, because they were only pleased when I pleased God in their particular version. Then, how could I please my neighbor when I never could please God, my parents, or myself? I wanted to be pleasing to someone, but whom could I please?

Recently while reading in Isaiah 28, some verses spoke to me as the perfect storm for why legalism is so prevalent in some churches. The prophet Isaiah is giving an account of how in the end times, God will exhort His people Israel to REST. When they don't enter into that rest, He gives them up to their own devices. I believe this may apply to churches which use legalism to control people. Isaiah says:

"Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom He said, 'This is the resting place, let the weary rest,' and 'This is the place of repose,' but they would not listen" (vs. 12).

The prophet continues:

"So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there - so that as they go, they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured" (vs. 13).

And to think that Isaiah was speaking to people who were under the Law, what more can we, who are under the era of Grace, understand how God wants us to enjoy the privilege of relationship with Him.

Tragically, in living life from a legalistic, religious perspective, His unconditional love was put forth as conditional. That is, if we don't do the do's and we do the don'ts, God loves us less. I for one could not please Him. If I could not please Him, He did not love me as much. I believe I gave up and became ensnared in the trap of trying to please. I went through years and years of emotional dependency, making gods of people and building walls around my heart.

Today, God invites us as believers to enter into The Ultimate Rest, the Precious Cornerstone: "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it (Hebrews 4:1).

Choose rest and grace rather than striving and angst. Trade up!