Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A heartfelt response....from a reader....

Every once in a while, someone who reads the blog offers a comment that brings up a question, or makes an observation, that takes what has been lifted up to a deeper place or opens the discussion/meditations up in ways I had not considered or had time/space to explore.

This comment was longer than blogger.com allows, and so the person emailed it to me. I reprint it with permission, and offer thanks that they have been journeying along with us all in our struggle with Leviticus. I pray that as we confront these difficult passages that we can all engage them as openly and faithfully as is noted below....


The laws in Leviticus are like a garden path suddenly filled with brambles - none of us can pass through without being caught on one or another of these laws.  Let’s be honest.  And there are so MANY laws but scholars have pointed out that they are all "equal" to each other, none are worse in God's eyes.  Yet, as our society has developed and the news points out, clearly many in society have made their own "priority list" within these laws...but, hey, isn’t that breaking the law in itself. 

It is not our duty/right to judge another or say whether God feels one of his laws is more important than another.  We are given the one law (and only one) that gets a “priority stamp” from God. He tells Christ to tell us: “the most important one” -- "Love God with all our heart and love one another as Christ loved you."  It is our call from God.  But we walk away from that commandment again and again when we choose to point out what another is doing which we feel is "more wrong" than our own choices. 

So it is hard for me to read this passage in the bible, when all I see around me today is people picking and choosing which laws we personally can break and then conveniently give ourselves a pass on judgment; for whatever reason, we all have laws that we easily say: "those are OK to break".  Then apparently we are just as comfortable to lift up and emphasize how another person is not worthy.  It is a shame that anyone should use God’s words to judge another; because it is likely done all the while we are ignoring our own flaws. “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”  Right?

Have you eaten a cheeseburger in your life?  That broke one of God's laws (no meat and dairy should be eaten together).  Do you wear clothes that have mixed fibers?  That breaks the laws (you shall not wear blended fabric).  Have you put your hand on a passed loved one at a wake to say good bye, to have one last moment together?  Well, that too is against one of the laws.  Really?  And I know many have just once again, given themselves the pass in their heads and judged me as being too harsh.  But I am not judging- I am just saying, I do these things, I must (and you must) accept we are breaking God’s laws if we wish to be considered good Christians.  Accept and repent, right?

I have done and I have seen most people do all these things- Have we all decided for ourselves what laws are breakable and should not be judged for it?  Obviously the answer, though possibly unconscious on our part, is yes. (Or we didn’t know it:  like the not touching a deceased person, I had no idea!)  Why do we think we have the right to break some laws and remain unpunished but, we are certain others should be punished?

The bible says following ALL of the laws is "the goal".  And I know perfectly well I will not be able to do that...I will try my best though and that is a life lived as we are asked to do: "And whenever we fall into sin, we repent and return to the Lord."  God knows we cannot be perfect; we are not divine, but instead human.  I am of the opinion, that at no time in history, has there been a fully human person (this excludes Christ, as he is fully divine too.) that can follow all the laws.  God knew that would be the case but, he gave us a list to work on.  He gave us also the path to come back to Him, when we need to repent.

I can attempt to show compassion for those doing exactly the same thing I do: making personal choices that break some of God's laws, some of the times. (Though they may be different choices- I need to remember they are equal.)  I also try to remind myself that another person is given different challenges than I, given different talents and gifts and abilities, too.  We all are made up of good and bad aspects; this is inherent in the human nature that God gave us.  He gave us free will, as well, and that is how we sin (make wrong choices), however, our free will allows us to enhance whatever parts we wish to be more dominant in our nature.  We can choose compassion, or hate, God has been clear what he wishes.

Society today does not judge the person who eats cheeseburgers, or who has mixed fiber clothing on, or the wife, husband, child, or friends of a person who has passed away, that bends down to give one last kiss at a viewing.  It is love that motivates them to touch what God says we should not. Christ did just the same thing, as the stories in the bible tell us:  he touched the unclean, spent his time with those that others declared should be shunned; brought everyone to the table without prejudice. God has asked the same of us. Yet this is not what we see being reported in the news,  what percentage of us have chosen to follow Christ in this loving way- touch the unclean, eat with the shunned, do these things as Christ did? 

I admitted: eating cheeseburgers and wearing clothing that is more than one type of fiber, and I have touched many beloved who have passed on, I get angry and am impatient at times.  So who am I to judge another when I am told that all laws, to God, are equal, nothing is noted as any different in weight until God tells us through Christ: “the most important one”.  Only God has the power to judge us mere humans.  We are asked to do what may seem harder: We are asked to love and to show compassion, not to judge. When we see this list of laws, should we not be looking for where we could try harder ourselves - not try to keep track of where our brother or sister is struggling with the list.

I hope for compassion from another and I pray each day that I will find the strength to give it when I see the need for it; I look to see how we may help those who are less fortunate, that is where I try to make amends for my sins.  So many things on the list of laws are things we all ignore now in our modern world... how is it that we are comfortable feeling that God is OK with us but “the other” should change?  We are all flawed humans, who must ask for forgiveness and… we must give it.  That is in the bible, too

One final confession: I am not always able to forgive, so I am not proposing one of the laws that is easy for me.  It is one of the things I need to try working at harder. And I know it will take a lot of time, me trying this ONE thing: “love one another”…over and over.  With my admissions of my own sins, I am hoping it is clear, I am not throwing any stones.  I am saying I am struggling too with being as God would have us all be.  And I admit fully that I am not good at many of the things—but I see in the readings that Love is the one concept that is mentioned several times and given greater weight by God.  So I will try to put first what God has put first and then when I am able to perfect that-- I will try to give up cheeseburgers. (But I must admit- even just typing that, my head is screaming: How can I do that?) 

- An imperfect Christian

2 comments:

  1. Sin comes from making choices, to follow God's law or not. I chose to pierce my ears, I chose not to get a tattoo. I eat cheeseburgers but not on Fridays in Lent. But love? We do not choose who we fall in love with, so how can there be rules to follow? How can love be a sin?

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  2. That cuts to the heart of the question. Is sin a series of ethical choices, or a state of being? If condemnation comes because of how we are made, then I fail to see the point of existence. Conversely, how can a state of being be seen as a choice? I struggle with the Levitical code...and choosing just one part and not another as a measure of what is acceptable in contemporary society seems to contravene both the sense of Torah and the experience of Jesus I have known as person and as pastor.

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