“I know, I know! I’m doing it, Mom! Don’t tell me to do it!”

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who’s ever heard those words in response to some unwanted command (i.e., “request”) I’ve already made… what, a thousand times?

I’ve even thought the same thing as an adult when a boss (or my husband) reminds me to do something I already know I need to do but don’t want to. I’m fully acquainted with the sentiment.

Lately, my mind has been connecting it, though, with prevailing attitudes regarding faith and obedience. Everyone’s trying to avoid one particular label: “legalist.”

The avoidance comes in different forms. For some, it’s all about Jesus. (It’s what exactly about Jesus?) Or it’s all about love. (What is love?) Or it’s all about what He’s done and not what we’ve done or not done. Don’t look at me, look at Him. And whatever you do, don’t bring up any rules, commandments or laws. If you have to, call them something else. Like policies. Or guidelines. Or community service. Things WE’VE decided to do because they’re for our own good or they make us look good. Certainly not because anyone else has told us to do them. THAT would be legalism!

When did, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” get so complicated?

I put out a Facebook status asking for healthy food suggestions, and I get back a slate of private messages from friends who don’t want to be publicly branded as fanatics because they’ve recently decided to start eating healthfully. They’ve been told that healthful living is a good idea all their lives, but they know they may be labeled or misunderstood as “legalists” for suddenly deciding to “follow the rules.” Unless, of course, those rules come from Runner’s World or Reader’s Digest. They’ve been silenced by the masses who call right doing wrongdoing unless it’s sanctioned by selfish motives.

It occurs to me this sunny Tuesday morning as I eat my healthy breakfast and prepare to go out for a run that I’m ready to call this bullying by its right name. Because bullying is what it is.

Go ahead. Call me a legalist. I see beauty and virtue in doing what the Lord asks me to do because He asks me to do it, and not in spite of the fact that He asks me to do it. Whether it’s caring for my health, keeping the Sabbath, refusing to lie or steal, or unselectively laying down my life for friends and enemies.

The reasons for doing these things are interesting, but I don’t need to know them all right here and now. Sometimes it’s enough to simply trust and obey. Sometimes it’s enough just to love Him that much.

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with” (John 14:23).

My younger son and daughter say that they approve this message. My older daughters have filtered my words, helping me, as always, to see things through less jaded eyes.