The goal is not conformity to a standard; it’s loving the standard.
Those are the words of Doug Wilson as he gives advice to parents wrestling with the question of whether or not to give their children smart phones (and at what age).
He’s not against standards (no Christian should be). We all have standards to which we must conform. Those include “house rules,” the laws of the land, and ultimately the Law of God. The issue (and this is what I liked so much) is deeper than simply obedience versus disobedience, conformity on the one hand and non-conformity on the other. The issue is where does this conformity of obedience to the standard come from?
We all know how easy it is to obey on the outside and be in complete raging rebellion on the inside (in our heart). To put it another way, obedience can be external without the heart being “in it,” so to speak.
The goal – the deeper goal, the goal that makes the most difference in the long run – is to love and delight in the standard. If that happens, conformity to the standard will follow. If the heart (from where delight springs) is right, actions will follow.
Psalm 1 begins like this: How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night (vv. 1-2).
Psalm 40:8 takes it one step further, as it says, I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart. A delight in the Law of God produces obedience to it.
If, in our hearts, we delight in God’s Law (and love it), and in the One who gave it, we’ll conform to the standard. Delighting in God’s Law/Word means that we desire it, and derive great pleasure and joy from it. We love God’s Law and delight in it because we know that God always has our good and His glory in mind, and that He knows exactly what He’s doing.
Here’s a question for dads and moms: Do your children know the reasons behind God’s Law and your house rules? Do they know that both standards (yours and God’s) are meant to help the household operate in a way that’s orderly and glorifies God? Are they (and you) aware that it’s dangerous to confuse God’s Law with your house rules? Something to think about.
Here’s a question for churches: Are we simply telling God’s people to “conform to the standard,” or are we urging them to “love the standard”? Another thing to think about.