One of my life tasks is to assist those who want to grow as faithful Jews while also seeking and valuing the added benefit that is ours in and through The More Jewish Jesus. In this connection, I have been thinking lately about how I would sketch the maturity that we are seeking to develop. What habits. characteristics, and attitudes would be manifest in such a person?
At first I thought of these as a series of “surrenders,” seven in the beginning, and then eight But I soon realized that “surrender” feels like such a negative word to so many people, and therefore I sought another term. Therefore, I now speak not of “surrenders” but of “commitments.” And seven or eight is not enough. So I am shooting for ten, knowing that “The Ten Commitments” is easy to remember, as it reminds us of what happened at Sinai.
So, here is my first commitment. I will be sharing more in subsequent blogs, all then, one at a time.
I invite you to comment below, here on my blog page, and we can chat about these things.
One last word: in no sense is what I am going to say the last word on the subjects I cover. Rather it is a first word, and a necessary word. You may find ways that it could be improved. So could I. But for now, let’s see what we’ve got.
The First Commitment
Commit to a lifetime of immersion in and submission to both Testaments of Scripture as the foundation and plumb line of truth and irreplaceable orientation to life with God, channeling His presence among us.
People misunderstand the Bible when they imagine it to be a collection or rules, regulations, and stories for children. Rather, with great depth and elegance it introduces and accustoms us to a comprehensive worldview, a way of looking at life, at the world, at the spiritual and material realm, and at our own place in the scheme of things. Furthermore, the Bible is a casebook. It gives us examples of how God acts, the principles upon which he does so, and what experiences humans can expect to have when he interacts with them or they with him. The Bible describes and invites the reader to identify with the characters in its stories so as to ourselves become part of the story the Bible tells about reality and the God of Israel, the story of what the God of the Bible is up to in the world. We become part of the story, the living story the Bible is telling. As we read, the Bible is telling us what would have or could have happened to and for us had we been there when these events occurred. By doing so, the Bible record is meant to shape not only our beliefs about God, and not only our conduct before God, but also our expectations of God. And because the God of the Bible wills that people should encounter him and experience the richness of his Presence and benefit to their lives, growing in deep acquaintance with the Bible may just be the most fertile foundational endeavor to which humankind might devote itself.
And finally (for now!), the Scriptures are a means whereby God relationally extends His presence in the world, and particulary into our world. Think of it like speaking on Facetime, or via Skype, or Zoom, or WhatsAp to someone who you know or wish to know. You and that other person make yourselves truly present to each other through a mechanism of means, the smartphone, tablet, or computer, such that even though on the one hand each of you is “really” somewhere else, you are also “really” present to each other in a particular slice of the space-time continuum through a mechanism of means. One might consider one’s Bible, prayerfully and intelligently attended to and studied, to be a kind of heavenly iPad whereby the Presence of God and deep familiarity with his mind, heart, and will, become ours through the reverent use of that instrumentality and our linkage to His WiFi, the Spirit of God.
If one wishes to experience relationship with God in this dramatic manner, one must commit to an ongoing in-depth, intelligent, reverent, and receptive interaction with the Scriptures. It is never a been-there-done-that experience, no more than a handful of experiences with a smart phone, tablet, or computer suffice so that you may henceforth move on to other things. No, there is much more to learn and to encounter. So it is with us, the Bible, and so is it with God.