Living in this world of false news and drastically opposing views, I have decided to take a dive into what the Bible teaches on how believers should actually look like. The guideline given by our Saviour seems like a good place to start.
After being confronted with the question of what the greatest commandment is, Yeshua (Jesus) replied to the lawyer,
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment...
A second likewise is this,
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37 - 40 WEB
Now, how would we suppose that would look like? Loving Yahweh, who created us, sounds as if it should come naturally. But from what we can see, caused by the seperation of sin, it doesn't. As with any earthly relationship, there has to be an intentional drawing near, sitting at His feet and learning about His heart and His ways.
"Draw near to God,
and He will draw near to you."
James 4:8a WEB
He is faithful to draw closer to us as we approach Him and embrace relationship with Him; relationship that is only possible through the atoning Blood of the Lamb covering our multitude of sins. By loving Elohim (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) we're choosing to trust in His plan, even when we don't fully understand it. We trust that we can have the faith of a child, simply relying on our loving Father to care for our every need.
“Allow the little children to come to Me,
and don’t hinder them,
for God’s Kingdom belongs to such as these."
Luke 18:16 WEB
I also feel, as with a parent-child relationship, when we choose to obey we show love to our Heavenly Father. Here is a practical example; when my own precious children ignore my well-thought out instruction, it causes me frustration as I know that my instruction is also for their benefit. After repeating myself, I may start to feel as if they do not fully trust me. But if they do what I request, even if they ask a few questions first, there is this joy in my mama-heart that comes with knowing that they feel safe within my guidance.
When we choose to obey Yahweh out of a love-relationship, and not just out of fear for punishment, I believe in this way it glorifies Him for who He is and makes Him smile upon us.
‘Yahweh bless you, and keep you.
Yahweh make his face to shine on you, and be gracious to you.
Yahweh lift up his face toward you, and give you peace.’
Numbers 6:24 - 26 WEB
Obeying His Torah (instructions) is loving toward Him, our fellow man and the creation in general. Can you just imagine what the Earth would look like if we all heeded His instructions? The following are just a few of the blessings Yahweh extends towards us for our wholehearted obedience:
"(YHWH) will love you, bless you, multiply you.
He will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your livestock and the young of your flock, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you.
You shall be blessed above all peoples.
There shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your livestock.
Yahweh will take away from you all sickness; and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you know, will he put on you, but will lay them on all those who hate you.
He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you shall make their name perish from under the sky."
Deuteronomy 7:13 - 15, 24 WEB
Here are the instructions which were recorded and now known as the Ten Commandments (summarised):
“You shall have no other gods before me."
“You shall not make an engraved image for yourself... (and) bow yourself down to them, nor serve them; for I, Yahweh, your God, am a jealous God,"
“You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain: for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain."
“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy...You shall labor six days, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God,"
"Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God commanded you; that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you,"
"You shall not murder."
"You shall not commit adultery."
“You shall not steal."
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."
"You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife...or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Deuteronomy 5:7-14,16-21 WEB
When dissected and explored in their original language and context, these and the rest of the instructions actually seem like things which any intelligent person acknowledging Yahweh as God would have done. But in those times not everyone had received the Holy Spirit, so it seems very likely that these instructions would have had to be followed very purposefully, and possibly have been obeyed out of a place of fear for the consequences.
So, how would we suppose a society would look if they followed the instructions of Yahweh from out of a place of love? I believe something like this:
Men would protect, provide, and guide their families on paths that would lead to life, and inspire them in the way they pursue relationship with Yahweh and their fellow man. Men would shape and confirm the identities of their loved ones within their unique God-designed roles.
Wives would respect their husbands and rest in the knowledge that they would wisely and prayerfully make decisions. Within that safe space wives and daughters could be confident in stepping into their unique roles. Nurturing, nourishing and building up their homes, they would be a safe haven for their husband and children to bring the parts of themselves that perhaps aren't always so perfect. Women would honour their fathers, husbands, and their Creator in their daily choices, and never gossip, or share scandals for the sake of pleasure.
Such women will be wise with the money their diligent husbands make, and the husbands' hearts will be sure knowing that they can trust their wives to do their best. Their children will witness their affection for each other and their family, and be buffered from many storms within that unconditional love. Sons and daughters will be able to bring any question to the family table, without fearing condemnation, for the goal of the family will be to guide them into the calling placed on their lives; a calling which should reflect the love and grace offered through our Saviour, Yeshua.
The fatherless, husbandless and the poor would have no lack or fear of tomorrow, for the community of believers around them would become the tools for provision and fellowship. (Psalm 68:5-6). There would be blessing on the family's health and finances, as men will respect Abba's design and purpose for both. (Leviticus 26 & Deuteronomy 28).
Creation would flourish, as humans would respect nature as part of the beloved, glorious design, and not just something to be used. Greed would not be the deciding factor anymore, but rather, agape LOVE.
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."
1 Timothy 6:10a
The above paragraph is a mere glimpse of what the world would be like if Believers in Yeshua practically lived out the Word, and stopped the cherry-picking of verses to suit their own lifestyle choices. Abusing the gift of grace is one of the worst diseases of the modern Christian faith, and it makes terrible witness to the nations surrounding. Below is a brilliant testimony from Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim, which mentions a few points on how modern Christianity is viewed by non-Christians. This was really an eye-opener for me.
In closing and summarising a central part of my message, I would like to say simply this:
Jesus didn't die so that we get to do whatever we want. And just because something carries a banner of Christianity, doesn't mean that it is actually Christian. Christianity should reflect Christ, and the visible evidence be in alignment with the Word, in its full context.
As my Granny used to remind me, the proof is in the pudding!
I beseech you, beloved friends; we should in all seriousness examine ourselves, testing what we are broadcasting through our words, attitudes and actions to the world outside. Though we face human limitations, are we radical in representating our Messiah? Or do we do as we please in this life, preaching tolerance for everything and expecting salvation in the end? Do not be fooled...
"On that Day, many will say to me,
‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name?
Didn’t we expel demons in your name?
Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’
then I will tell them to their faces,
‘I never knew you!
Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’"
Matthew 7:22 - 23 CJB
I would rather suffer in this life, compassionately living out my Abba's instructions and (hopefully) being a light pointing toward Him, even when it is difficult.
“‘Well done, good and faithful servant.
You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things.
Enter into the joy of your Lord.’"
Matthew 25:23 WEB
Let us run the good race, encouraging one another in truth and love. See you at the finish line!