Love and the Commandments
I'm taking part in Rachel Held Evans' blogging the lectionary, which is turning out to be quite the challenge.
1 Peter 3:13-22
1 Peter 3:13-22
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed.
This sentence from 1 Peter (1 Peter 3:13, NRSV) is probably precisely the wrong thing an obsessive compulsive perfectionist needs to hear.
Ah, but see -- this is what happens when scripture is taken out of context because the very next bit says:
Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.
Which is a great message of hope for recovering obsessive perfectionists like myself.
I read something on a blog yesterday that once I would have blindly agreed with before I had EfM under my belt and having spent the past year reading about Judaism and early Christianity. Now, it left me profoundly uncomfortable.
I commented as much on the blog, which I regret now because there isn't enough space to properly explain or recognize the process of how I'd gotten to this place. Fortunately, the blogger was all grace and kindness in response.
All this to say that it is in the following verse that God is meeting me today. Not just in pointing out how my ego-need-to-be-right (aka recovering obsessive perfectionist) gets in the way:
'They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.' (John 14:21, NRSV)
Reading this verse seemed to confirm to me: God hasn't deserted Jews. They love God and God loves them, as God ever has since Abraham and Sarah when God made that first covenant. (My theology also argues that God has loved since the beginning of time, inclusively all.)
That a little Jewish sect grew exponentially and became its own religion does not make us superior. Both faiths love God and are loved by God. Judaism doesn't need Jesus to tell them this, but I think He needs to tell we Christians that.
How do we show our love? "They who have my commandments and keep them..." As Christians, we speak of the commandments Jesus gave us: "You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart..." and "You shall love your neighbor as yourselves."
The sage Hillel, 30 or so years before Jesus, added: "The rest is commentary." (Actually, it might've been a different sage, but I can't find that reference at the moment.)
How do you love God? How do you love your neighbor? (And who is your neighbor?) These are the rest of the law found in the Torah, which Jews today keep to varying degrees and reapply to today's world, just as we Christians do.
And sometimes we fail to do. Just as I failed to do in that moment of commenting on that blog -- did I do it with the gentleness and reverence called for in 1 Peter?
Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15-16, NRSV)Nope.
But in the remembering and returning to these commandments, to Jesus, to God, to love, I, you, we are restored. By remembering and acting with love at our hearts, we extend God's lovingkindess (chesed) to others.
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. (John 14:21, NRSV)It all boils down to love.