I like the dove better than the stone.
Coming upon Jesus at his baptism, the Spirit of God descended as a dove. Picture wings in motion, wind-borne, alive. I want to be in that picture, don’t you? I thirst for a living experience of God’s Spirit: to be moved, alive, overwhelmed and overflowing. I like the dove.
I’m not so happy with the stone. The stone doesn’t inspire me.
God wrote the Ten Commandments in stone. Word after ominous word cut into solid rock. Picture a massive slab of granite – rigid, lifeless, and cold. Who wants to be in that picture?
If you’re not excited about the Ten Commandments, I can see why. If you see life as a choice between the Ten Commandments and God’s life giving Spirit, it’s no contest. In a competition between the dove and the stone, I’ll take the dove every time.
I don’t want a list of rules; I want the Spirit of God leading me. I don’t want a “code of conduct;” I want a living relationship. Bottom line, I want God himself, working in my heart and life, transforming me and using me in this hurting world. I want the dove, the Spirit, the relationship.
But wait. What if we don’t get to choose – don’t have to? What if the living work of the Spirit within you ends up looking exactly like the Ten Commandments? What if the Ten Commandments are actually an itemized description of how the Holy Spirit is shaping you into someone who truly loves God and others?
Here’s the unexpected truth: If you want to know what the Spirit of God is up to in your life, read the Ten Commandments. Think of them as a thematic outline of what God cares about.
Each one reflects the heart of God. Each is about relationship: relationship with God and people. A life in the Spirit — OR — a life shaped by the Ten Commandments? That’s not how it works. These are not two different things, they are the same. The Dove, the Spirit of God, writes the commands of God upon your heart in a new and living way.
This is the promise of God – his great gospel promise through the prophets:
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
The only stone that is a problem is the stone of my own heart. But God gets rid of that stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. Then he takes the words he once wrote on stone tablets, the Ten Commandments, and writes them on my heart by his Spirit.
Think carefully about these words!
Then, open your heart and engage your mind. Open your heart to God’s Spirit – pray, ask, seek, and knock! Engage your mind – reflecting deeply on the words of the Ten Commandments. This is what I’ve been trying to do in my life lately. And I think I’m starting to see some progress. I’m beginning to understand what the living Spirit of God is doing in my life. I have an idea that this is a huge part of what it means to love God, to be filled with his Spirit, and to walk in his ways.