These are the commands the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites.
Bible. Big book. Lot’s to remember. Hard to get my head around.
For the Jews: Torah and Talmud. Lots of commandments. Lots of history. Lots to understand, lot’s to act upon.
For the Christians: Old and New Testaments. Questions like “Do we still obey the Law?” “If so how much?” Jesus’ words: lot’s to remember, lots to obey, hard to get our head around…
I don't know about you, maybe you're smarter than me, but I find it’s always better to understand something in a nutshell and then build knowledge and detail on that understanding. I always love it when someone boils it down for me.
In fact when I was a child (a long long time ago), my mum tells me that I would ask her hard questions then as she tried to explain, I'd constantly interupt her with the same phrase: "No Mum, I don't want to know that. I just want to know ..." In other words: "Cut to the chase, Ma! Bottom line it for me."
So I'm so there when a teacher of the Law asks Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”. Yes! Bottom line it for us!
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." [Mark 12-28-30]
In another place, Jesus added “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. [Matthew 22:40]
So using these words of Christ as a launching point, the commandments that the LORD gave Moses were given to teach Israel how to:
- Love God
- Love other humans
- Love themselves (this is implied in Leviticus 19:18 – love your neighbour as yourself)
Love in popular media is about an endorphin-enriched emotion that makes you do crazy things to gain another person’s endorphin-enriched emotion toward you.
In the Bible, love is about actively seeking the betterment of the other according to God's standards. That not only helps us understand loving God and others but also the love ourselves part: flossing my teeth – although it’s tedious – is essential to taking care of the body God gave me to be caretaker of.
You get the gist.
Getting back to Leviticus, while the book itself is about formalizing laws governing spiritual practice and daily conduct, I sense the deeper message of Leviticus as
Honoring/Worshipping God Involves Appraoching Every Aspect of Our Life with Love.
Approaching God on His terms is obviously respectful (loving toward Him) and is essential to worship, where worship means bringing glory and honor to God.
But treating others fairly is also a part of “worship”. Managing our sexuality is - in part - spiritual and is a part of worship. Respecting others’ property is a part of worship. Taking care of our body is a part of worship. Because failure and flaw in these areas is a turning away from God (anti-worship) and His expectations of mankind.
And a huge part of “holistic” (ie., whole life) worship would be refusing to be drawn into the religious practices of others (Lev 20:2-5), which in our societies might be less about offering our children up to Molech and more about things like gambling – the god of Luck – or using God’s principles without having to go through Him first – as in the whole Law of Attraction movement. This brings us back to the 3-strands of love that Jesus summed up God’s will by:
- love God (with everything in you),
- love others (with justice, altruism and grace) and
- love your own self (maintain your physical, moral and emotional health, and develop what God has entrusted to you)
God is fiercely interested in all of life, not just in getting a little attention occasionally in our church or synagogue gatherings, not just in us getting the sacred or religious compartment of life “right”.
It’s all sacred.
It’s all given as a gift from Him but is expected to be used in honor of Him and to draw us ever closer to Him and to others.
So in the year ahead, the week ahead, the day ahead, which of these 3 strands of love needs the most attention in your life:
- actively loving God?
- actively loving someone else (whether friend or foe)?
- actively caring for your own body soul and mind?
What action do you feel God would require of you in that area? What will you do about that?
Grace and peace to you today!