6/4/2014 2:00:00 PM
Ironically it seems to me that the Pentateuch, sometimes called “God's rule book,” is the portion of the Bible that become the catalyst for so many people abandoning the discipline of daily time in the Scriptures, which they begin with such gusto each January. I realize there are many ways to seriously approach daily Scripture study, and reading through the Bible in a year is just one way to do that. I also realize that Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy don't always make for scintillating reading. But there is an essential value written between the lines of these important books: God is a god of discipline and order – and if we want to be His, we need to be men and women of discipline and order as well.
Observant Jewish sects certainly take this principle to heart. If you know observant Jews, you can't help but notice that they are some of the kindest, most respectful people you'll ever meet. And they raise children that are polite and extraordinarily devoted to their studies and their extracurricular pursuits. I would suggest one reason for that truth is that observant Jews are devoted to following God's law as they understand it.
Too many Christians, by contrast, are so consumed with the freedom they have in Jesus Christ that they don't bother following His law at all. As a result they tend to be undisciplined and impulsive, and too often raise children that don't respect authority or rules.
I have never been credibly accused of being a legalist. But I have to wonder, could some of the problems we have in the Church and in our households stem from our casual relationship with the principles of God? The law is there for our pleasure, not to restrict our pleasure. Put another way, the law is like the banks of a river. When water is contained within river banks, we have the ability to enjoy it. Unrestricted water is a flood, and floods are destructive.
Within the Church a “freedom” mentality also leads to sloppy theology. Just this week a prominent TV preacher said in an interview that yes, he believed same-sex marriage was wrong but that it wasn't part of his “core message,” as though he got to pick and choose what he was supposed to tell people about God.
Let's be clear: the “core message” of the Christian faith is “Repent and believe the Good News.” That's a hard message for people to hear, and it's likely why Jesus told His disciples that the world would hate them in much the same way as it hated Him. But it's the message Christians are commanded to a hurting world.
We don't need to hold a focus group or go off on a senior-level executive retreat to determine what the Church's message should be. God has settled that for us. We'd do well to remember that when we say we're “struggling” over how to respond to a situation. My conviction is that in those situations, we're not “struggling” at all. Most of the time we know what to say and what we're struggling with is whether we're going to obey God or not.
If we're living a life of devotion to and love for God characterized by disciplined adherence to His law, maybe we don't struggle with issues like whether to confront evil where we find it, whether that's in the Church or in the culture.
There's another thing I've noticed about observant Jews: they know how to earn money. There are exceptions, of course, but throughout history the Jewish people have understood how to create and market businesses in such a way that they can serve their customers and turn a profit.
In other words, blessings accrue to the disciplined. If obeying God isn't enough reason for you to develop and maintained a life of disciplined devotion, maybe that will do.
- June 4, 2014