I am now 66 years old and have the privilege of looking back on time, not just looking forward. As I read the scripture for today it brought a strange yet wonderful sense of peace. When I was younger I looked at these verses as “thou shalt’s”. They conveyed a sense of legalism. Today they convey a sense of grace.
Life is made up of a series of options. If one choice is made it leads to another.
Over the years the concept of holiness often encouraged an unpretentious piety. It was focused on prayer and the acts of repentance. Here however Moses words are highlighted differently. Do you want to be holy, then create a generous attitude. Make sure you allow the fruits of your labor to touch the lives of others.
Do not steal, do not lie, do not rip your neighbor off, do your best to be fair, do not slander others. Moses goes on with admonitions that do seem heavy but now that I am older I see them as words of wisdom not words of heavy handedness.
The Psalmist sets this out even stronger as the way to holiness is revealed in a learning process. Teach me, give me understanding, lead me, turn my heart, my eyes, confirm me, all become words indicating holiness is a learning process. It is a way of life.
The Apostle puts all this into perspective. Our lives are like structure being added to a massive building, indeed, the revealed temple of God. The foundation is Jesus Christ. He has not only modeled the building process, he embodied the walk of a carpenter. This building is not just any building it is the sanctuary of the very Spirit of God.
I can’t help but smile as I think of story after story about the little things in life, things that mattered not just to me but to others.
Along the way there were moments when the task seemed laborious but Jesus speaks to this and clearly defines an alternative. Go the second mile, love your enemy, perfection is clearly understood in an alternative lifestyle.
As I read what is being written here tears come to my eyes. I think of the conflict going on in my homeland. Political powers are failing to recognize how a life style of greed centeredness, securing borders with “legal” forms of dominance and control have given permission to define holiness as “wholiness”, simply the desire to have it all.
Looking back, it is easy to see the “glass cathedral” style of glitz and humility has failed our society. It has not been uncommon to see the bully simply out bullied. Someone bigger and more treacherous seemed to always be around the corner. The lifestyle advocated in the text is clearly an alternative.
My tears are turned to a smile as I think about those who have chosen the alternative way. Recently I have had the joy of reading peoples stories who have seen their purposes turn around. In the midst of battling devastating illness, others battling the corporate structures, some just saying I want something different. There is a new sense of peace and direction being defined as the way to live.
As you take time to reflect on how following these admonitions has brought a surprising joy to mind enjoy the simple sound of the piano sound of the London Piano Man.