In the 1980s there was a book making the rounds by Josh McDowell. Josh became famous for writing a book called, Evidence that Demands a Verdict. A classic regarding the historical accuracy of Scripture, Jesus, and the Crucifixion. But back in the day he was also famous for a lesser known book called, Giver, Takers, and other Kinds of Lovers. Basically it was a smaller and lesser known book on the issues surrounding sex and dating.
I missed out. Not that I did not get to see him when he came to my campus. But I majored in Clinical Sociology, specializing in family dynamics. Basically the study of families and their impact on society. As part of my senior research paper, I had already undertaken a local college Christian sex and dating survey prior to even being aware that Josh was finishing up a book on the subject. I can boil my findings down to one single concept. That the highest correlation between sex and dating as Christians, in my college research, was not how much time you spent alone together, as many couples did to study, but how much time you spent praying together. At first that may seem odd. But the more intimate you became spiritually as a couple, the more bonded you become emotionally, and then the physical wants to catch up with the other two.
As we have been learning, once love is demanded, it ceases to be love, as love is freely given. We know that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son . . . (John 3.16).
Make no mistake God, does make at least one demand and multiple commands.
The only use of what God demands of us as found in the NASB is:
- Ezekiel 34:10 NASB – 10 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”‘”
The only demand that God makes is for ministers not to make themselves fat at the expense of the sheep (another blog for the future).
And the command Jesus gave us is of course to love one another.
But for our purposes, I wish take a closer look at those terms in how we as humans make use of them. From what I can tell, the English root word “mand” is derived from mandate – to call for something in an authoritative way.
In English, the word for command is derived from two parts Com*mand. There are multiple Hebrew and Greek words that get translated as Command. But in English, the Com refers to something that is engaged in jointly. Consider the word for business – Company, a group of people coming together to engage in business. Compassion – the act of feeling the same feelings together.
Think about it, one can not command someone who does not freely submit. Take for example a four star general, does he command the enemy’s troupes or his own? He commands those under his rank in his own army. Those who have submitted to his authority. Those in his army that refuse to submit are thrown into the brig for insubordination, or worse yet if the situation an be justified, executed.
Now consider the word demand. Likewise in English, there are several words in Hebrew and Greek that get translated into the present form. The use of De in our context relates to back to being a derivative of something, in this case back to madate, to order something. According to Websters Dictionary, the word means basically to to call for some response in an authoritative way, but implies a forced cooperation.
Consider Jesus’s use of the word regarding us:
- Luke 6:30 NASB – 30 “Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
We are to give without any demands. The Unspoken Theology is that we as believers can demand behavior from other Christians if it is given as mandate coming from God.
Quite often what is demanded through the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit does not involve any call to deepen relationships to strengthen love to being freely given. Too frequently, as previously blogged, prophesy morphs into a form of Christian fortune telling, with the speaker’s wishes carrying an expectation that their directions will be followed.
Now consider the Holy Spirit’s definition of prophesy as to be used by the church in the New Testament:
- 1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV – 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
Can one demand someone to be built up? Can one demand that one be encouraged? Can one demand they be consoled? Of course not. How foolish. Prophesy, like love, can not be demanded, only be freely given and received. Hence the love chapter as the ultimate guidelines on how to apply the gifts of the Spirit. The new prophets insist that their words are God commanding us by demanding some behavior in return.
What was the command Jesus gave to us?
- John 13:34 NASB – 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
If we really say we want to be more Christlike, then has Christ demanded we love, or has commanded us we love? We are “Commanded.“ If you would receive it, we are to prophesy as a form of freely joining in with the Father, demonstrating love, through upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. A far cry from ordering people to do what they are told!
So as always, I encourage you love much my friends . . .