We have a new puppy at our house, Ellie May. She is basically a Heinz 57, but her breeds are Blue healer, Dachshund and Jack Russell. I guess that makes her a Gentile. My pure bread Miniature Chihuahua, Izzi, acts like an Old Testament Jewish leader, laying down the law. And though the pup already stands 2 or 3 inches above her, she is clearly the alpha dog of the house. The dogs and some other issues in my life have drawn my mind into the law a lot lately and caused me a much greater appreciation for grace.
One issue with Ellie May is boundaries. I attempted, unsuccessfully, to teach her the boundaries of our yard. But anything shiny would cause my discipline to go right out the window and she was not always easy to get back into our yard. Living close a highway forced us to put a shocking collar on her which was gut wrenching for me, but I knew it would save her life. Otherwise she’d be out in the road (again.) That shocking collar is the law. For Ellie it terrified her for a few days where she wouldn’t even go off the porch; and then little by little she has adjusted to where those boundaries are. She would not go near the dingle sound that occurs before the shock. But the collar base somehow got turned off this week and one evening Ellie was once again close the road. It didn’t take her long without the law to persuade her to go out past her boundary line.
Me either. Thank God for Grace.
Like Ellie May I’m a bit of a goober when it comes to learning lessons. I hate boundaries. The sky’s the limit, right? Well, only if God wants you in the sky, otherwise the fall is great. Adam had one rule, “Don’t eat of the tree of good an evil.” He did. When Israel received the law from Moses it was ten very clear rules. Nothing complex, or difficult to understand. It didn’t matter, they broke them anyway. The ten laws turned into 613. They broke those too. And now I don’t know where they stand with the law but for certain I say, Thank God for grace!!! If we can’t keep one rule, was there ever any chance for 613?
My point of that rant was to get to this point, what is the difference between modern Christianity and the Jewish law, besides grace. Depending upon which church you go into there may appear to be very little. Their hair may not be polled, they wouldn’t refer to the preacher as priest, but some do. The laws probably do not reflect those of the Old Testament and there’s likely sausage and bacon at a church breakfast. That’s grace I can bite into!
Recent (within the last few years)Halacha, the totality of laws and ordinances that have evolved since biblical times to regulate religious observances and the daily life and conduct of the Jewish people have been added to:
- Hunchbacks must not bend near a church even if it hurts;
- Lice must not be killed on Shabbat;
- Hebrew newspapers must not be read on the toilet – English is allowed;
- Jews must not donate organs to a Gentile – receiving is allowed;
- It is permissible to degrade a woman on the kosher bus lines;
- Violence may be used against those who distribute material contrary to the Torah.
Regarding the switching on of electrical appliances on Shabbat:
”Will ask for a foreigner who is not his son to do the work … Ask his son or daughter to do the work with shinui (change) … The big one will do the work himself with shinui, ie insert the plug into the socket with his mouth or elbow or back. You can also hold the plug and push it with your head into the socket.”
We Gentiles look at those and think… wow, how crazy is that?
But do the unsaved look at the denominations of the Christian church any differently?
- Don’t clap at the end of a song.
- Don’t raise your hand in praise
- Don’t Amen or Hallelujah out of order
- Women’s hair must not be cut
- Don’t use a musical instrument in the church
- Don’t sing praise songs
- Women must wear dresses and of a certain length
- Ministers must wear a white shirt,
tie, and dress coat
- Men must not wear short pants
- Women must wear skorts, not shorts
- No wedding bands or other jewelry,
other than watches, tie tacks, and
- No going to movies
- No going to games
- No going to theaters
Those are some I have experienced and some I have not, but what do any one of them have to do with salvation and should that not be the fundamental question when determining what happens in a church?
I’m sure there are many who disagree with me, and that’s okay. Remember, I said I had issues with boundaries, I am fully aware that I am a heathen.
When we get to Heaven does anyone really believe that as they stand before the throne of God, He’s going to say, “Did you seriously go see Smokey and the Bandit at the Theatre in 1977?” Is He going to ask, “why did you clap at the end of ‘God is an Awesome God’ when Sister Susie sang it in 2017, and by the way that’s a little jazzier than I like My music.” Come on people, that’s humanity, not God making rules. And before any Christians get their stones out of their pockets consider each and every word in Colossians 3 (well, I guess we should consider every word in the Word of God.) But for now lets just consider these:
Colossians 3:12-17 KJVS
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
The law is still there. Those original ten that God gave to Moses. And it may shock some of you as bad as Ellie’s shocking collar to know that God still expects them to be kept, but He knows and understands the weakness of every single man and woman on earth. Every one of them. Even the liberal extremist that get on my last nerve. He expects me to be the beloved with mercy, kindness, humility, meekness and long suffering. That means more than a few minutes of it. He expects His people to really forgive one another, not in word only, but in the heart. You know…. Like Christ forgave you when they hammered the nails over and over and over again into His body on the cross. And above all love one another, because that is the perfect way.
Now let’s move onto peace ruling in our hearts. Is it the rule? For certain it has not been with me lately. I need this scripture in my heart as I face the day. As I battle the demonic forces of the world that tell me to walk away from the church. The one’s that try to convince me that I can go it alone. I don’t need people. I just need Jesus. Well, that may work for someone one (although I doubt it), but it for certain doesn’t work for me. I love my people. And they love me, so why would I want to hurt them? I’m thankful God put them on my path.
Verse sixteen is the one that caught my eye this morning and caused my mind to ponder what the Lord meant. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Teaching and “admonishing one another” in hymns and spiritual songs?
According to John Gil’s commentary, he says of this verse “in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs; referring very probably to the title of several of David’s psalms, משכיל; “Maschil”, which signifies giving instruction, or causing to understand; these psalms, and the singing of them, being appointed as an ordinance, of God to teach, instruct, admonish, and edify the saints; for the meaning of these three words, and the difference between them; see Gill on Ephesians 5:19.”
There is no ministry in the church that does not have purpose for not only the one doing the ministering but those who listen. If God gave us a gift, be it to preach, teach, sing, send a card or go pray with a saint, He did it for the purpose of either lifting a spirit, correcting a wrong, or edifying the body of Christ.
Today’s scripture edified me. It encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing even in the face of adversity. How about you? Are you doing what God called you do? if you’re not, find you a biblical body of believers, set yourself in the middle of them and do what God says. Remember your boundaries… there are some, don’t let it shock you when God rolls you across the lawn and says get back in your spot. But if it’s your part of the yard… Guard it well.