The 10 commandments, the golden rule, the beatitudes; these are all things we “have” to do, right?
To many, religion is a list of rules. I don’t see it that way. I see it as the expression of my faith in God. I want to have a relationship with Him, so that He can bring out the best in me. When we strike up a friendship with someone, they can often bring out elements of ourselves that we didn’t know existed. When a friend asks our assistance with something, we do our best to accommodate their request, even if it means changing our plans. Our friendship with God is no different; just being in His presence can cause subtle differences. We start looking for ways to share His joy, which can be by living out the directives that both the Father and Jesus gave.
A great example is the third commandment to keep holy the sabbath day. For Catholics, that means going to Mass either for the vigil on Saturday or on Sunday. It can be referred to as our “Sunday obligation.” What does it mean to be obliged? While the definition uses words like ‘require,’ ‘constrain’ and ‘bind,’ there is one definition that I think fits better. “To place under a debt of gratitude for some benefit, favor, or service.” When we have a relationship with God, we appreciate all He has done for us, from creating us and everything and everyone we come into contact with, to becoming one of us in order to save us. It’s our thankfulness that leads us to have that ‘debt of gratitude’ and, since we cannot do for God what He has done, we take the time each week to seek out His presence.
If we look only at the rules and regulations, then we are missing the point of a relationship with God. What we do (or not do) does not create the relationship with God. Rather our relationship with Him leads us to take action, to want to do better and be the best person we can be. Using the directives like the commandments and the beatitudes helps us to see how we can take action and show our love and joy in God.