Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A Thought for Wednesday 4 March 2015

“Deal bountifully with Your servant, O Lord, that I may live and keep Your word.  Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your Law.”  Psalm 119:17-18 NKJV

The biggest difference between Judaism and Christianity seems to be our understanding of the Law (Torah) and its practical application.  As St. Paul writes that Christians are “not under the Law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14), we get a misguided sense of what St. Paul intended to convey – especially when we quote a passage fragment only.  St. Paul still maintains that “to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slave” (Romans 6:16), so a “slave to sin” can be no friend of Christ.  In other words that “master” to whom we submit is righteousness (justice and mercy and faith), or it is sin; and sin is still clearly defined by the Law – and for a reason!  If the Law says “don’t” but we still choose to “do”, or if the Law says “do” and we choose not to, we are in a state of sin and are thus separated by our own choices from The Lord.  The Lord can save us from sin, but it is questionable as to whether He can save us from our own hardened hearts!

A religion professor once asked, “Is Christianity defined by a set of rules?”  Of course it is not a fair question because Christians do have moral rules to abide by and some standards of worship; they are the same moral rules and standards our Jewish brethren are to abide by.  These “rules” in themselves, however, do not define us.  Rather our response to these rules, how we approach and observe the rules (or how we search for excuses and loopholes around these rules) DO define us and our relationship to The Lord and to The Church; to one another.  For good or for bad, these “rules” (and our embrace or our deliberate distance from these rules) tell the world who we are and what we are. 

More importantly, they tell The Lord how important He is to us.  As I shared previously, do we see these “rules” as strictly commandments, i.e., “rules to obey”, or can they be considered Divine Gifts?   If the Sabbath is truly a Gift to be enjoyed and shared, how can the character of this commandment be somehow different from the others?

There is much more to the Law (Torah) than a list of what we “shall not” do, and this is the whole point and importance of the study of the Scriptures.  “One and done” will never be for us what The Lord intended when He revealed Himself in the Law, through the prophets, in Christ Jesus, and then finally the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The Word in its fullness is our sanctifying quest, our pursuit of spiritual perfection.  It is not about memorizing certain passages of the Bible to get by (there is no minimum standard!); it is entirely about internalizing the Word so that it becomes as much a part of our being and our witness as drawing our next breath.

If we find discipleship to be easy, we are not being disciples.  If we find The Word (which is Christ) easy to understand (including the Law), I submit we are not drawing closely enough.  And if we find the study of the Scriptures or prayer an unnecessary “burden”, then we do not know The Lord at all.

“Wondrous things” will be revealed to us as we dare to draw closer to The Lord through the Written Word, but we must draw closer to see.  This is why Jesus established His Church, so the wondrous nature of The Eternal One will continue to be revealed throughout the generations.  Let us be that revelation!



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