Monday, January 15, 2007

The Torah of Christ

Jesus' commandments, as you probably know, are few and far-between. And simple, and demanding, and life-changingly self-sacrificial.

His commentary on the Torah is that it was summed up in only two commandments. Get those right, and you don't even have to put words to the rest.

His capstoning commandment is for us to love one another as He loves us.

A great ambition. An impossible achievement.

But He teaches detail. He goes into quite a bit of it, even just in the Sermon on the Mount. However, it isn't so much detail as example. The examples illuminate principles that could be applied by any thinking child to the circumstances of her or his own life.

And he teaches by living out His examples. He helps others. Provides wine generously at a wedding party. Heals sick, broken and dead people. Feeds the hungry en masse. Casts out demonic spirits enslaving folks. Dandles children on His knee. Teaches that God loves us deeply, and would give anything - even His only Son - to be reconciled to his prodigal children. Then He becomes the reconciling sacrifice.

That's The Story.

You've heard it before. You know what it is. You can tell it in as many words, or fewer, or more, or better.

He is the two summation commands.

He loves the Lord His God with all His heart and with all His soul and with all His mind and with all His strength.

He loves His neighbor as Himself.

That is the Torah of Christ.

Does He say anything about how we must worship? Yes, "in spirit and in truth." And He sings a hymn with most of His closest friends on their last Passover eve together. Anything else? If so, point me to it.

Does He ever forbid a man or a woman from telling others about Him? No; in fact, He stays an extra day in Samaria because a woman has told her village about Him; the first persons to whom He appears resurrected are women who run to tell the others Whom they have seen.

Does He require attendance at assemblies of God's people? No; He just goes. He reads in synagogue. He attends feasts at the temple. And on off-days, He gathers people in small groups and mountainside-filling multitudes to teach them how to love each other and how to love God.

Does He outline a hierarchy of church government? As nearly as I can tell, He establishes his church in a whirlwind of convicting, spirit-filled faith-sharing around the core of The Story. He breaks His kingdom into a world through ambassadors and embassies; outposts of faith. God is the King. We are His subjects.

Does He demand our baptism? No; He demands repentance, and then is Himself baptized to fulfill all righteousness. Then He undergoes the very barbaric death, the very pathos-laced burial in a borrowed tomb, and the very incredible-yet-undeniable resurrection which that baptism comes to signify.

Does He require the good confession? No; He simply makes it Himself before Pilate.

Does He threaten damnation if we do not agree upon every single way of thinking about His teaching? Oh, get real. He prays for God to make us one, because no one else can. And anyone else can ruin it. So He prays it as one of the last requests to leave His lips as a human being who can suffer pain and torture and humiliation and death:

"Father, may they be one."

Is there anything else that He asks of us to do?

Yes.

He asks us to go. Everywhere. Tell The Story. Build up faith in others. Baptize them into a reconciled relationship with God.

He leaves many of the details, the applications, the interpretations, the commentaries, and the responsibility for living out our faith pretty much up to us. Yet He does not leave us to do so alone. He gives us the gift of His Spirit, to comfort and encourage and convict and inspire our telling of the Story. He gives us each other, to love and to be accountable to and to be blessed by. He gives us prayer, a conduit of communication with God the Father Himself.

He leads us captives to freedom in His train, and gives us all these gifts.

So, is there really anything else that we can teach, any doctrine we can expound upon, any commentary we can make, any interpretation we can insist upon, any theology we can legislate, any judgment we can make that can be worthy of the time we spend neglecting the simple telling of The Story of the Torah of Christ?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keith- nothing can negate neglect except repentance.

Mt:16:24: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mt:10:38: And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

jettybetty said...

Hmmmm....
no

JP Manzi said...

Excellent post Keith.

Have you ever read the book "Jesus Creed".
This post brought me back to that book. I think I will read it again.

shannon said...

Another home run!!

David U said...

I think I am going to copy this one and tape it to the inside of my Bible.

What a foot-washing this post was!

Thanks my brother!
DU

Anonymous said...

Keith- I have read your post at least three times, and you have me confused as to what you know and believe to be the truth of Christ.
This latest post could have been written by myself. But You who say all writings in the bible was written by holiness, the Holy Spirit seem to question the very thing you say you believe. I don?t agree that Paul said that, but put that aside. How can you so fervently defend that belief, yet question so many things written there in.
Your questions;
?Does He say anything about how we must worship? ? No but Paul does.
?Does He ever forbid a man or a woman from telling others about Him?? No Paul does.
?Does He require attendance at assemblies of God's people?? no the Hebrew writer does.
?Does He outline a hierarchy of church government?? No Paul does.
?Does He demand our baptism?? no, others do.
Does He require the good confession? Others do.
Does He threaten damnation? Others do.
If all these writers are whispered to by the Holy Spirit, Just who is this Holy Spirit/Comforter except the Spirit of Jesus. I just don?t see how you say they are INSPIRED yet not to be believed. As I said I am confused maybe I just did not understand what you said.

Keith Brenton said...

Laymond, I will try to address these questions ... but right now, I am swamped with some other responsibilities and am only good for one tirade at a time!

Anonymous said...

Keith- I am looking forward to your comment, and I am sorry you saw mine as a "tirade" I certianly did not intend it in that manner.
I didn't intend it to be vituperative, harsh or intemperate
maybe a little long, but I do apologize if you saw it that way.

Keith Brenton said...

No, Laymond; I didn't see your response as a tirade at all; just saw that maybe my own wording was perhaps too strong.

I'm glad we share the perception that scripture is Christ-centric.

I just need a little time and a lot of prayer about how to phrase what I believe regarding inspiration, why have have epistles and perhaps even why we're still writing them.

That's right; I'm going to be praying for inspiration.

Jp, "Jesus Creed" is on my list. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Keith- I too pray for guidance and inspiration to do the right thing in my spiritual and carnal life.
I pray to the great God Jehovah because Jesus cleared the way for me to do that. I don't depend on an indwelling spirit to continually lead me from within. I would think the writers of the New Testament would have also prayed for guidance, but I am here as proof God does not always answer prayer the way you ask for it. I will pray for us both.

Patrick Mead said...

Brilliant, Keith. I am sharing this with my staff right now.