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Friday, March 25, 2011

Lest We Forget, The Law Is Love

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." - Deuteronomy 6. 4-9

So as I was doing my devotions last night and this struck me.  We are given a very famous text from scripture, one that Christ quoted when asked what part of the law required the highest priority.  A few things I had never really thought about jumped out at me tonight.  The text itself seems to be divided into three parts.  A declaration of the nature of God, a divine imperative, and a series of applications on how the nature of God and the command should control, ultimately consume, our lives.

The declaration of the nature of God.  The Lord is one.  This statement, in the light shed on history from the new testament, is a very powerful statement of the unity and completeness of God.  God perfect and lacks nothing.   He alone is self sufficient and not contradicting himself.  Paul borrows uses this concept twice, first in Romans and then again in Galatians.  In Romans 3 talking about the wholeness of salvation's scope.  There is no Jew or Gentile, all are saved in Christ as God and there are no other God's before or in addition to him.  God is one.  Galatians 3 also uses the phrase "God is one" as a defense against the notion that having an intermediary through whom the law was given to mankind, that an intermediary implies 2 Gods.  So judging by the context and Paul's defense of the oneness of God in this passage, it suggests or hints at a trinitarian understanding alluding to both Christ and the Father (or, in other words, to God).

Now to the divine imperative itself.  Love God with all of your heart, soul, might.  Christ in applying this passage added a fourth object to this sentence, namely your mind.  There is not one aspect of our lives that is left out of this, nor is there any acceptable portion of our lives that is left out of this.  God demands 100% loyalty from our entire being.   Our passion is commanded to be consumed with God in holy affection.  Our very essence is commanded to be transformed by God in being holy.  Our thoughts and actions are to be enraptured by God in holy living.  This is foundational to the very core of our faith.  This is the end of all of the scriptures as they point to the necessity of regeneration for God pleasing obedience.  The prophets speak of this, Christ speaks of this, the apostles speak of this, and the Spirit of God is the one who accomplishes this!  In short, it seems the whole scope of Moses' words in this text is summed up in this concept: "God is your Lord, and God is one.  As God is Lord, be obedient.  As God is one, be one."

The last part has very practical significance in how we are to apply this truth to our lives to be obedient to God.  This law is to be the central of our family lives!  We are required to teach them to our children so that they can learn at a young age.  A child's failures spiritually often reflect the failure of the parent's in raising them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  The law of God is supposed to be so centric to our families that it is what our conversations focus on at the home.  There is so much talk about creating a "spiritual worldview" by our conservative theological culture today, and I'm not even necessarily in disagreement with them, but how is this done?  Well it is not accomplished by focusing family time and family conversation on the downfall of western morality.  It is not accomplished by reading certain magazines, listening to sermons as you drive, having a whole library of books about holy living, theology, and devotions.  And God forbid, if this is applied later in a families life, it is not accomplished by forcing family time on children and teenagers who you do not engage on any other level or have never engaged before.  Creating a Christian, or spiritual, worldview is not something caused by being immersed in our Christian culture, no!  It is accomplished only when we are faithful to obeying the prescribed lessons brought to us by God.  Parent's if you want to create a spiritual worldview for your family, then teach your children from a young age about the things of God.  Do not let it end there.  Let them learn from witnessing and being immersed in family conversations about God and his faithfulness and his law.  Talk about it often, apply it to every situation in life.  Let teach your children not only instruction by also by example.

The law of God should be on your hands and before your eyes.  It should be the focus of everything we do with our bodies.  When we work, do we work for the glory of God?  Do we use our gifts to glorify the name of God?  We use our hands for so many things throughout the day, things that we are actually physically accomplishing.  Whether that be work, charity, chores, mundane things like driving or eating, helping each other...we use our hands all the time.  Our hands should be spiritual extensions of the law of God to the extent that everything we do is done in such a way that people will see the work of God being accomplished!  Our eyes are what guides us.  We bring in all kinds of images and information.  What we see in this world we take into our mind and process it, but it also shapes us.  When you see gore and sex over long periods of time, people can become desensitized or obsessed by these things, but they do affect us.  The law of God should be the lens by which we see the world through.  We cannot help seeing certain things, but when we do see things that we'd rather not, what do we do with that knowledge.  We submit it to the holy law of God.  But our eyes do much more than just passively receive information.  We seek things out that we want to see.  We need to be applying the law what we seek after just as much as what we see by happenstance.  Submit all information and data we take in, good or bad (or often neutral morally speaking), to the law of God.  Another function of the eyes is guiding us.  Obviously, we see where we are going and what we are doing with our eyes.  Good, clear and accurate sight is so important to certain functions being performed safely that we require aids to help our vision.  From reading glasses to regular all purpose glasses, to night vision goggles, welding goggles, telescopes, binoculars, there is a plethora of items and differnt degrees of importance and use, that people use in addition to their eyes to guide them on a journey or while they're working.  In view of this is it any wonder that we are prescribed to keep the law before our eyes?  It is our guide and our aid in this life to see where we are going and see what we are doing.  The law is wonderful!

Write the law on your doorposts and on your gates.  The law should be the foundational focus of our lives in how we welcome people into our lives.  When you enter someone's home, you very intimately enter their lives.  When people come into our lives, they should be passing into a faithful welcoming environment that is defined chiefly by the law!  You go to people's houses and you enter into fellowship with them and enjoyment with them.  We often gather to eat, play games, talk or whatever.  But is there any view of the law of God that defines the people in the house?  We should be passing through the doorway INTO the law of God (to put abstractly).  In order to see this, let us go back to Christ as he defines the law of God.  Christ when asked what the greatest commandment was, answered by saying quoting the passage above and adding another common theme found throughout the scripture (and in the law!), "You shall love your neighbor as yourself".  Is this not the right approach to opening up our lives and welcoming others into our homes (through the doorposts).  Write the law on the gates.  Well, we don't have city gates too much anymore.  But we know that ancient cities had gates to protect the people of the city.  While we welcome people with the law of God by writing it on our doorposts, the law of God is also our great protection.  The law of God protects us!  We often think of law as restrictive, but is it not also protective?  If we are forbidden from doing things that hurt us, are we not actually protected by being obedient?  The city wall and it's gate were the cities protection, and it was by the gate that a city discriminated who or what was allowed into it.  Likewise, it should be the law of God that serves as our protection and also discriminates what we welcome into our lives.

This is not exhaustive by any means, and I see different aspects of the text that could be developed further at some point, but these were my meditations last night.  Hopefully they help.  May we become a people that are consumed with and by the law of God.  And lest we forget, the law is love.

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