Services are going as scheduled this morning (3/2/14). It's slick out; therefore, please be careful.
From the Pastor's Study, March 2014
As I read through the required Disciple Bible Study readings for week six, I was confronted by many different commandments. Here are a few:
Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.
Do not practice divination or seek omens.
Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or
clip off the edges of your beard.
Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put
tattoo marks on yourselves. . .
Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for
my sanctuary. . .
Stand up in the presence of the aged, show
respect for the elderly and revere your God. . .
Earlier in the Book, there were numerous commandments concerning intimacy in relationships. All of these commandments were based upon the original Ten Commandments handed to the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness.
The reasoning for some of the commandments puzzled me, until I noticed this phrase,
You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. . . (Leviticus 18:1-4a)
God had given the Israelites these commandments so that they would stand apart from the pagan practices of the Egyptians (where they had just left) and the Canaanites (where they were going). To become intermingled with other cultures (who worshipped other "gods") would cause them to lose their identity as the people of God.
How do we deal with this rationale today? Do we separate ourselves from society to show we are different? The pending legislation in Arizona seems to be taking that approach. It states that if a business owner finds the lifestyle of a customer unacceptable, then that business owner can refuse service to that customer. An undertone in the legislation would seem to say that the right to refuse is based upon Christian principles of what is right and what is wrong. In other words if someone is living a lifestyle that another considers non-Christian, then there should be a right to refuse service.
My first concern is with the definition of a sinner. Why are certain people identified as "unacceptable" and other people are not? There are no weighted values in the Ten Commandments. The murderer is just as much a sinner as the gossip. In fact, the gossip can murder the reputation and do far more widespread harm than the murderer.
My other concern is that Jesus did not separate himself from the sinners of his day. He mingled with them and ate with them, showing a high degree of interaction between sinner and himself. In fact, if Jesus did not interact with any sinner, he would have been quite alone.
Did not Jesus emphasize that we are to be in the world to add purity and flavoring just like salt does to a pot of soup? To tell others that their sin is worse than my own sin is not a standard that any human can offer.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not replace it. What he exemplified is that relationships take precedent over rules. Thus, he found it acceptable to heal on the Sabbath; interact with woman, Gentiles, and lepers; and touch dead bodies to bring them back to life. All considered unacceptable in his day. It seems to me that we need to be very careful about what we do in Jesus' name.
In Christ's love,
8:00 AM Early Worship
9:00 AM Fellowship Time
9:15 AM Sunday School
10:30 AM Late Worship