Thursday, December 04, 2014

A Thought for Thursday 4 December 2014

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”  John 15:9-10 NKJV

What makes a commandment a commandment?  Christians generally recognize the “Ten” from Exodus and repeated in Deuteronomy as well as the two “big ones” Jesus cites from Deuteronomy and Leviticus (“You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, and strength”, and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”). 

Judaism recognizes 613 commandments as preceded from the mouth of The Lord with “You shall …”  That is, they do take the “Ten”, of course, but they look deeper into the texts of the whole Torah not as a list of “rules” to be memorized but as a transition from being a mere observer of “rules” to become a person of The Lord perfected in this prescribed way of life. 

In the Gospel text Jesus seems to refer to two different sets of commandments; “My Father’s commandments” and “My commandments”.  Our Lord, however, does not set these in opposition to one another.  Rather they are complementary, each feeding from, informing, and perfecting the other.  It is not as if we are given a choice to observe “these” or “those”.  Instead we must look more carefully at what is being asked of us.  For instance, we hear the commandment to “love the Lord your God” but do not find real meaning until we hear our Lord state very clearly that the “second great commandment is like the first; You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.  In this, then, we will discover within the full context of not only Torah but the New Testament what that “love” really means, what it actually looks like.  We will not discover this, however, until we draw closer.

Even to consider Jesus’ words at the Last Supper means we have to take a step closer, to move from being a mere observer to becoming a participating practitioner.  When Jesus says to “Do this”, we draw closer to hear Him further say, “in remembrance of Me” and considering how loaded this simple statement is.  So we don’t simply “do” anything unless in “doing” we find ourselves “becoming”; “becoming” more than we are, “becoming” bigger than the moment; “becoming” the Image in which we are created.

I read somewhere that the Christmas season generates some $617 billion (with a “B”) in retail spending (this number does not include charitable giving!), yet we shake our heads at the incomprehensible billions we believe are wasted during election season as if there is much of a difference.  Yet we cannot see much difference because we are mere observers of “commandments” – and only “Ten” of these!  If we “abide” in Divine Love, however, we will begin to see more clearly that The Lord’s commandments do much more than to only prohibit a particular act; the fullness of The Lord calls forth much more from us than to only stand safely by.

It will not be easy, of course.  In fact I can guarantee that the closer we get, the more difficult it will seem because of the struggle within us by “spirit” and “flesh” – these truly in opposition to one another – until the “spirit” finally wins over our personal desires and we find ourselves “becoming” more than we are.

If we truly want Christ to remain in Christmas, we must become Christ especially during Christmas.  The only way to become Christ is to abide in Christ.  Then we will find true meaning in the Holy Day.



No comments: