In my adult life I have studied scripture in context, from a Jewish perspective, and from the vantage point of the society and culture at the time Yeshua taught. I have concluded that I, and anyone else who has done the same, are now more knowledgeable about any given scripture. Big deal. It makes for interesting conversation at times but it doesn’t necessarily deepen me as a person. If I can hold my own with any Bible scholar out there or impress others with my obvious intelligence – tongue in cheek here folks – but I cannot live the intent of the words Yeshua (Jesus) taught, what possible good am I?? Some of the wisest people I know are those who have a very basic and simple understanding of the scriptures, and yet live out those principles every day of their lives. That is my goal….to live the intent of Yeshua’s words.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through him, the world might be saved. 18 Those who trust in him are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the one who is God’s only and unique Son.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) If you know any scripture at all it is my bet this is the one you know. And, in my opinion, this one scripture is the summary of the entire Bible.
In no way am I suggesting that we can ignore the rest of scripture, but for a moment let’s consider that if we truly believed, if we who choose to trust in Him lived out this truth, the rest of scripture will fall into place. We would have faith, love, hope, joy, would treat others as we would like to be treated, would seek Him first, be thankful, prayerful, merciful, slow to anger and quick to repent and so on.
Why do I say this? Verse 18 states that we who trust are not judged…..meaning we have been forgiven our sins, pardoned as it were. Prisoners who have been pardoned of their crimes and embrace that pardon will change their lives, their way of thinking to live as if they had never committed the crime, and will be thankful of heart and ever mindful that going back to their crime and that way of life is not an option. Our “crime” may not be in the traditional sense of the word, but have we not committed crimes against the Holy One if we have chosen to live outside the boundaries of his Word?
God’s Word was not designed to stifle us as people, to stop us from having fun, to keep us from exercising our own free will and ability to decide for ourselves. Quite the contrary. The Word, or “rules” were designed for our protection, to give us the opportunity to live life to it’s fullest.
Whoa! Am I backing up my spiritual dump truck about to release a load of “do’s and don’ts”? Nope! Don’t believe in it myself and here’s why: because the spiritual dump truck has never worked for one person in the history of man. Well, that may be overstating a bit, but the point is that many people stay away from church for that very reason. Humans don’t like to be told what we can and cannot do.
Consider the woman caught in adultery from John Chapter 8. Maybe you’re familiar with the story of the woman being dragged from the bed of ill repute, naked and thrown onto the ground by the religious leaders of the day. They were trying to trap Yeshua (Jesus) hoping he would contradict the law which said that she needed to be stoned to death. His response? Yeshua wrote in the dirt. No one knows exactly what He was writing but many have speculated. When the leaders kept questioning Yeshua He said, “The one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) One by one the leaders began to leave. What could they say? “I will stay, cuz I’m not a sinner”. Don’t think so.
Let’s be real for a moment, we know when we are doing or saying something wrong, don’t we? Do we really need the church or anyone else pointing out the obvious? Not really unless you’re just not sure. When I teach classes I always say there is no such thing as a dumb question because if we don’t know the answer the question isn’t dumb.
Back to the woman and Yeshua. Once everyone had left, Yeshua asked the woman who remained to accuse her. She answered that there was no one. Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and don’t sin any more.” (John 8:11 The Complete Jewish Bible) Yeshua was telling her that He wasn’t going to condemn her for her actions and to stop doing it. Nothing more, no lectures, no need to beat her over the head with the letter of the law. Yeshua forgave her with a simple statement.
Here’s what I believe. I believe that if we are willing to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit He will tell us what we need to do, to hear, quit doing, whatever. When we hear that still small voice in our spirits we have a choice to make; respond or ignore it. If we choose to respond we will begin to make changes in our lives that will reflect what the Holy Spirit has spoken to us. It’s part of the journey we are on with God.
So what if we ignore that voice? I don’t know; that’s between you and God. I do know that all of our decisions have consequences – good or not so good.
The woman chose to turn away from the adultery; we meet up with her again later on and her gratitude for Yeshua’s forgiveness is played out in a rather dramatic way.
Well, that was a really long winded way of saying that when we trust that God loved us so very much that He was willing to allow His own Son to die a horrid and cruel death, we will experience love like we have never known. That is a fierce, deep, ferocious love. When we truly get hold of that reality and embrace it we will want to live the intent of the Bible. To love others, be cognizant of our humanness with all of its faults and frailties, and do our best to stay within His boundaries of love, to walk in relationship with God.