Here’s what I have seen in many different churches over the years; church folk tend to pick and choose which of the “laws” are the important ones to be followed and judge others based upon those choices. That’s smorgasbord Christianity in my humble opinion.
The “Law” is found in the first five books of the Bible, collectively called “The Torah”. There are 613 in all, 248 that are positive commandments and 365 that are negative according to the Rabbis. The Ten Commandments are part of the Law and are central to the Law in its entirety.
We cannot pick and choose which of the Laws we want to follow. If we say we follow the Law we are subject to observing all of the commandments, not just some. If I judge another because that person has tattoos and yet I don’t observe the commandments governing divorce or mixing seeds, animals and cloth, am I not equally guilty of not following the Law??
The Law was not given to “control” humankind; rather it was given to establish a strong, unique nation of God’s chosen people, the Jews, and humankind as a whole. The summarized Law are instructions that if we followed them would guide us on the path of righteousness and a deeper relationship with God our Father.
The Bible summarizes the Law in two sentences. “Rabbi, which of the mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah is the most important?” He told him, “‘You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself. All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.” (The Complete Jewish Bible). The context is a teaching Yeshua was giving toward the end of His life when the Pharisee’s were trying to trap Him so that they could have Yeshua (Jesus) arrested and get Him out of their hair. After all Yeshua was screwing up the good gig the religious leaders had going in Israel! They were losing control of the people.
Yeshua had a way of getting to the point, not mincing words, stating the facts plain and simple. I like that. The people I most appreciate are those who just say whatever needs to be said without minimizing or coloring the situation.
My “Christian” experience hasn’t always been positive. In many ways the traditional church and organized religion reminds me of cliques in junior high or high school. If you have ever been the one outside the popular clique in school you know it doesn’t feel good. (If you were part of a clique you probably don’t know what I am talking about! But hang in here with me anyway, just for fun! You’ve read this far, you might as well finish.) I have met and gone to church with too many who are fluent in “Christian-ese” (“Jesus loves you sister; what has God been telling you lately?; praise Jesus, have a blessed week”) Don’t get me wrong, not all of the people who spoke “church” were disingenuous, but plenty were. You know the type – wore the biggest cross money can buy around their neck, always sat in the front pew, carried a Bible everywhere, would NEVER utter a curse word, or at least say they never would, and for sure would NEVER, EVER let alcohol wet their lips! And yet, it was often these very same people who judged others harshly and were not quiet about it, gossiped, abused spouses/children, or lived scandalous lives outside the walls of the church. Yeshua talked about them in His day too; He called them “hypocrites” and “whitewashed tombs”. Harsh, but accurate. At that time the teachers of the Law were holding others to the standard of the Law, but not themselves. Hmmmm…..sounding familiar??
So here is what I have decided for my life. I am going to do my best to live the intent of the Law, which means that I will love God, and one of the best ways to love God is to love others like I would like to be loved. Some call this the “golden rule”. Whatever you call it, it is what God called us to do. I would never be able to adhere to all 613 commandments; I’m sure before I get out of bed every day I have broken several! But if I concentrate on loving others to the best of my ability, I am living the intent of the Law and loving God at the same time. Will I get it right all of the time? Nope, I can guarantee that! But that’s where mercy comes in……..