Well, I find it hard not to come back to this idea again. Why has God given us commandments? Let’s reiterate:
- He wants to protect us. Some may be trying to convince you that the commandments are holding you down, keeping you from reaching your full potential. Let’s look at this proposition.In my 30 years as a Mormon, I have never once regretted not having a drink. I have done so after taking one. Not everyone who uncaps a beer bottle becomes an alcoholic, but then we don’t play too loosely with sticks of dynamite either. God makes no mistakes; He knows we have challenges, afflictions etc. and he has prepared for us a way to overcome and to be healed. Keeping his commandments helps us humble ourselves and become healed, both spritually — receiving a forgiveness of sins, and with it peace to our souls — and physically. We may have to wait for the latter till the Resurrection, but can somebody offer something better?
- He wants to help us learn new things.We learn new things when we try to do something we haven’t known how to do before. Every gym member can tell you, “no pain — no gain” is true. Your muscles will only grow if you work them to exhaustion. Same is true for our spiritual powers.
God’s most important commandment is to love Him. Some would say that this is an indication of a sophomoric, angsty teen of a God, who needs your adoration somehow. That is not how it is. He is our loving Father, so of course he wants to have a relationship with us. He is poorer in a way that a spurned parent is, if we do not want a relationship with him; however, if we do not, we can not grow spiritually in this life. And if we willfully rebel against God, we may not have the opportunity to grow in the worlds to come.
Is it that I am cynical when Pascal’s Wager seems a good offering to me? If I am happy and have peace in my heart in this world — and can feel myself a successful human being, my economic circumstances notwithstanding — there are only downsides to other ways of life in my view.
In closing, let me assure that I do not try to follow Jesus Christ out of a fear of punishment or some such. I do it, especially these days, when I have “proved him in days that are past” (quote from LDS hymns #), out of a deep love and gratitude, because he has made me whole.
Finally, pared down to under 500 words, there it is. I hope it makes sense.