Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Consequences and Community

I'm reading Deutoronomy. I actually started in Matthew, but I got to Jesus being tempted in the desert, and something occurred to me. The devil is throwing these temptations at Jesus, and he responds all three times with passages from Deutoronomy. I had never noticed that before. I mean, I would have thought he'd whip out a Psalm or Proverb, but no. Deutoronomy.

The thing is, I've never read Deutoronomy. I'm not totally sure I knew how to spell it before I cracked it open. So crack I did.

At this point I'm near the end -- I just finished chapter 31, out of 34 chapters. I'll be honest, its pretty dry, and kind of frustrating. For example, if your kid is rebellious, stone him to death? That's a smidge past spanking, you know? Hard to reconcile that with the loving Christ in the New Testament. And yet, clearly Christ was fully behind Deutoronomy.

As I'm nearing the end, though, there are a couple of strong themes I'm finding. One of them is that there are consequences for our actions. Much of the book gives specific laws, and even punishments for lawbreakers. But you get to chapters 28 - 30, and Mo basically takes it all a step further. If the folks obey the law, there will be blessings. If they disobey, curses. Consequences.

Another theme I'm seeing is about community. There are various occasions when we are told to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And we also see God promising to be with us.

What's really fascinating to me is that Mo explains more than once that God knows the Israelites are going to screw it all up. God already knew! And yet, he went through with his promises, gave all the great gifts, etc -- and outlined how he would punish the folks when (not if, but when) they screw up their part. Consequences. But in that vein, he also promises that when they turn back to him, he'll bring them home. Consequences, but also community.

So I find myself looking at my life and considering the consequences, good and bad, of my decisions. And I'm also looking at the community I have with Jesus, considering how to stop stiff-arming him in certain areas of my life.

I'm glad he already knows what I'll do. That takes some of the pressure off. Not because it gives me any kind of get-out-of-jail-free card, but because he has a plan.

And his plans are GOOD.