I want to be mature. The problem is that the older (and hopefully wiser) I get the more I realize how uncomfortable a life of maturity can be!

I think our inability to keep Torah with exactitude is one of the greatest aids in the effort to keep the atonement provided by Yeshua front and center in our focus. I am regularly driven to contemplate the grace on which I depend by virtue of the fact that I am constantly engaged in wrestling with how to live for God’s glory (c.f. Philip Graham Ryken quote in previous post) according to God’s instructions, and the necessity of depending on His grace as I seek to work out His way as the Spirit leads.

In other words, there is a danger in tradition as a default, because we can tend to become at ease about the state of our practices, confident that we our practicing as God would have us. I am not confident that God ever wants us to become comfortable. Rather we ought to be constantly weighing, how does the Torah relate to this set of circumstances and this group of people, this scenario, etc.?

I am increasingly convinced that maturity is measured by our willingness and subsequently our ability to dwell in the tension that life and God’s instructions present us. It is our desire to escape the tension and settle on a clear, present, and time-tested framework of rules, that threatens our dependency on God for grace to be pleasing today (and each day).

Law/Torah and America

In their book The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim prepared what they viewed as the actual “Ten Commandments” by which people live in postmodern America, those rules include the following:

– I don’t see the point in observing the Sabbath;

– I will steal from those who won’t really miss it;

– I will lie when it suits me, so long as it doesn’t cause any real damage

– I will cheat on my spouse—after all, given the chance, he or she will do the same;

– I will procrastinate at work and do absolutely nothing about one full day in every five.

James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth (New York: Plume, 1992), pg. 201

Sound like what you’ve observed in everyday life? Perhaps even like what you ultimately live by? There is a moral crisis wracking America, and worse still it is at epidemic proportions in American churches. The source of the problem is multifold but one primary cause is that post-modern churchianity has jettisoned God’s torah as having anything to do with their life.

Philip Graham Ryken said:

Good teaching on the law and the gospel has never been more badly needed than it is today. We are living in lawless times, when disrespect for authority has led to widespread disdain for God’s commandments. People are behaving badly, even in church. Part of the problem is that most people don’t know what God requires. Even among Christians there is an appalling lack of familiarity with the perfect standard of God’s law, and of course the situation is worse in the culture at large. This ignorance undoubtedly contributes to the general lowering of moral standards in these post-Christian times, but it does as much damage to our theology. People who are ignorant of God’s law never see their need for the gospel. As John Bunyan explained it, “The man who does not know the nature of the law cannot know the nature of sin. And he who does not know the nature of sin cannot know the nature of the Savior.

As a group we have failed to internalize the following truth (also quoted from Philip Graham Ryken:

The law is what shows us our need for the saving work of Jesus Christ. Then, once we come to Christ by believing in the gospel of his cross and empty tomb, it shows us how to live for his glory.

Philip Graham Ryken, Written in Stone : The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2003). pg 8.

Let us pray that God will restore His truth to our hearts and to the hearts of our brothers and sisters (but first to our own).

Today, Father, may your words be always in front of my eyes; may my hands be engaged in the practice of your commands.

I recall the power of your outstretched arm in redeeming us from the house of bondage, and today I will lean on that same arm for strength to live in a redemptive manner. May I be honored to partner with you in the repair of the world.

May it be your will and may it be my will, YHWH, our God, and God of our forefathers, that my mind, my hands, my feet, and all the senses You have given me be subject to your service.

Blessed are you, YHWH our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his Son and sanctifies us with his commandments. How precious is your kindness, O God!

Long, Nathan A., The Offerings of Our Lips (Fort Wayne, IN.: Nurture, Inc., 2006).

About Books

Junior over at epangelical (also be sure to check out — it’s the single best place on the web to investigate Promise Theology–which you NEED to investigate; it will change your life) asked me to participate in this little exercise about books. Since I love books, it seemed like fun.

  1. One book that you’ve read more than once: Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings
  2. One book that made you laugh: The River Why by David James Duncan
  3. One book that made you cry: The City in Which I Love You by Li-Young Lee
  4. One book you’re currently reading: The Gospel According to Moses by Athol Dickson
  5. One book you’ve been meaning to read: A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren
  6. One book that changed your life: Toward An Old Testament Theology by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., and Connecting by Larry Crabb
  7. One book you’d want on a desert island: Survival Handbook
  8. One book you wish would be written: Torah: the Expression of God’s Heart

Anyone else? What are your answers? Give a link back or pop them in the comments section.