[Moses said,] You know Godâ€™s laws, and it isnâ€™t impossible to obey them. 12 His commands arenâ€™t in heaven, so you canâ€™t excuse yourselves by saying, â€œHow can we obey the Lordâ€™s commands? They are in heaven, and no one can go up to get them, then bring them down and explain them to us.â€ 13 And you canâ€™t say, â€œHow can we obey the Lordâ€™s commands? They are across the sea, and someone must go across, then bring them back and explain them to us.â€ 14 No, these commands are nearby and you know them by heart. All you have to do is obey! Â Â Â Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (CEV)
â€œMost people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.â€ â€“ Mark Twain
I was raised in Missouri. I grew up reading Mark Twain. It was interesting to me to discover this quote from a very humorous author. I don’t think he was laughing when he said this. In fact, there is a fair amount of discussion as to whether Twain was a Christian or an atheist. My husband has a number of friends who are atheists. I am grateful to God that He has called servants like Henry. Most atheists I have met were once Christians, often raised in a Christian home, and then when they got to their teens and 20’s and had questions, those around them rejected the questions and/or gave bad information.
The lectionary this week speaks to me about God’s communication of His Law and love to His children. Moses begins by telling me that God sent His Law tangibly to His children. He began with The Ten and then gave Moses all the details. Jesus then completed the instruction by telling me that if I have questions about the all of it, I can boil it down to two â€“ love God and love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:37-40).
The psalmist tells me in Psalm 82 that my LORD is not the only god who sets forth laws â€“ He is the only one who does so justly and fair. The warning is given to those who oppress the poor and orphans. What am I doing for the poor and needy?
Paul’s letter to the Colossians teaches me about living a holy life. The letter begins with rejoicing about how the Good News has gone out into all the world. The news is not just a list of do’s and don’t’s but about God’s love for His children. God’s Laws can be lamps that light our way on His path. A path that He purchased through His Son, Jesus. On this path we live a fruitful life that is filled with the Holy Spirit who continues to teach us and so we grow in our relationship with God.
And this week’s lectionary texts concludes with Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. And here is where Scripture meets Mark Twain’s observation. I do not have any questions about what Jesus is teaching. I am to love and serve those who are my neighbors. And Jesus’ definition of neighbor includes those that I may not like. I may have a good reason for not liking them but Jesus breaks down all of that with His example of a Jew being cared for by a Samaritan. Take a moment and put yourself beaten and hurt and someone (a member of the worse people group you can think of) comes along, picks you up, takes you to the nearest hospital and pays your bill. Now reverse the roles and that person is hurt and you are the one to care for him/her. What do you do?
And so I think about passages of Scripture. Passages that I know. Verses that bother me because they call me to a holy life that may involve giving up â€œmy way.â€ Verses that bother me because me because I struggle to reconcile what I read about God with what I experience with God. Isn’t that what a growing relationship is about?
I Live to Know You written and sung by Darlene Zschech