Through various readings and life situations over the past weeks a fresh (for me) perspective has developed in my understanding of the need to know and follow God’s “law”. But, first of all I will go back to my days of seminary education and remind us all that the Hebrew word for law – Torah – is related to the root verb to teach and signifies teaching, instruction or perhaps even guidance; words which perhaps give quite a different impression. These translations also remind me of my days as a “pioneer girl” where we often quoted Psalm 119:105 ‘ “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
With these thoughts in mind I go to a message I heard the other day at church (the first time I felt I could really appreciate a sermon in Spanish!) on the topic of humility. While the exhortation began in Colossians 3:12 with the words “clothe yourself with … humility” it continued by looking at Christ’s example of humility as it is partly described in Philippians 2:8 “he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross.” Obedience can be a bit of a difficult word perhaps seemingly more “oppressive” than “life giving.” Yet Christ exemplifies one who is willing to listen to his Father trusting that His Way and Will can indeed lead to life – and not only for ourselves but clearly for others as well. This thought leads me to a verse found in a devotional reading provided through Rick’s INESIN colleagues – Isaiah 51:4 “Pay attention to me, oh my people, and give ear to me, oh my nation; for a law will go forth from me, and I will set my justice for a light for the peoples. ” In this verse I hear a Father calling to his child – trust me, listen to me and I will provide good instruction good guidance for your life, teachings that if you follow will allow you to be a voice and a demonstration of justice for all peoples. What is this justice? While sometimes this word is translated “judgment” it is also the same Hebrew word as found in Micah 6:8 as a requirement of God for his people alongside the need to be humble and act mercifully. A different book I have read these past months had an insightful comment regarding the ideas of mercy and justice and so I quote “We have often seen it [Justice] as opposite to God’s mercy. ‘God’s justice’ is understood as God’s deserved punishment for our sins, ‘God’s mercy’ as God’s loving forgiveness … Given this choice we all prefer God’s mercy and hope to escape God’s justice … Most often in the Bible, the opposite of God’s justice is not God’s mercy but human injustice. The issue is the shape of our life together as societies. ” The main thought that really caught my attention these past week is this: God desires us to follow his ways and his teachings because when we do we are a light to the world of God’sjJustice, not of his judgment, but of right living alongside the rest of humanity as we care for this earth He has created for us – faithfulness, integrity, honesty, caring for the widow and the orphan, governing in a way that is right and fair for all. It means doing what is right regardless of what it might cost – is this not Jesus on the cross, being obedient, faithfully doing what is right in the eyes of his Father regardless of what others might think or do to him? So here we are again back to the idea of obedience – such a key concept in our relationship to God, as John 14:15 tells us, it is the manner in which we most demonstrate our love to God “if you love me you will obey my commands.”
The challenge these thoughts present to me is my need to more fervently hear God’s words, know his teaching, know his instruction; or as Charles Stanley said in a recent devotional I read “to know God’s definition of goodness… and the things that are good in His eyes.” Wouldn’t this truly be a light to the peoples if we all as followers of Christ truly sought and carried out in a daily manner that which is good in the eyes of God. Wouldn’t this be a way to bring life to ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our fellow humanity and this earth? I quote from Amos 5:24 “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Or perhaps in other words: Let’s follow Gods ways because in doing so God’s right, fair, loving, compassionate, generous, faithful way of doing all things will inundate this world through our lives and actions.