Loving the Law of the Lord

How I love your law!
I think about it all day long.

–Psalm 119:97 GNB

Psalm 119 is full of verses like this. When I get to one I usually try to rationalize it by thinking something along the lines of: “that’s more of an old testament posture to take towards the law, now that Jesus has died and risen, we have grace, so the law is merely a contrast to God’s radical grace. If I were to take up the posture of loving the law I’d be on a slippery slope to a life of legalism.”

However, recently I ran across an excellent series of videos covering the Ten Commandments from Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms. I heartily recommend the series because it teaches a way to love the law but still avoid legalism. Like many good treatments it reminded me of some things I already knew, but also revealed new things I had never known; speaking to both my mind and my heart.

There are 33 videos ranging from 5 to 16 minutes each.

The Lutheran ordering of the commandments is probably different from what you are used to (unless you are Lutheran.) The fifth video goes over the different orderings of the commandments. There are more variations than I knew!

Thoughts on the film Silence

– Without the Holy Spirit I am certain I would not be particularly good at withstanding torture.

– As a protestant the Christianity the padres spread is quite foreign to my experience of Christianity, especially:
• Importance and veneration of priests
• Importance of items and symbols of worship, both the paraphernalia passed between the believers and the images to be trampled upon.

Many of these differences make this a more necessarily visible practice of religion. Believers can be discovered because of images in their homes. They must go to a priest for confession. Kichijiro keeps putting himself in danger, showing faith, to get into the presence of the priest so that he can confess his previous cowardice and trampling, showing his doubt.

-Both the Christians and the governing authorities have to deal with the importance of trampling on images. If it isn’t a big deal as a believer, then just trample. If it isn’t a big deal as the daimyo, then why are you demanding that the Christians trample, but saying that it is just a formality? So it is a big deal, you are trying to stop something that you think will grow despite your claims that Japan is a swamp where Christianity just won’t grow? Then believers should resist.

-Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael’s* reply to Nebuchadnezzar when he demanded they worship his golden statue in Daniel was and is a good response to the “silence” of God.

King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

(Daniel 3:16-18 NIV)

They recognized the possibility that God may not deliver them while continuing to believe that he would.

-I kept wanting Rodrigues to respond to Inoue’s insistence that only he could stop the suffering with: “No, the only one here that can stop it is you. You are the authority and the one causing the suffering. If I trample or don’t it is according to your authority that these people are being tortured.” Especially after Inoue continues torturing Christians who already apostatized.

*a.k.a. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

The Body of Christ and the body politic

If you don’t believe that God exists or is concerned with people’s thoughts, desires, and longings, then prayer is at best a time to get people together as a prelude to action, at worst an excuse to dismiss the topic as soon as the prayer is done. That whole spectrum exists for me too, I’ve prayed when God was calling me to action, but because God exists and I am part of his church sometimes my job is simply to pray.

The Body of Christ is not a democratic order. In a democracy you have to find a majority (in our system, a majority of the political power) to act, so individual concerns fall by the wayside and you end up not caring why people support your position as long as they lend you their power.

In the church the why is most important. The same action taken by two different people can be a sin or a good work, wholly dependent on each person’s heart (Cf. the last part of Romans 11:23 “…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin”). The unity of the church is not like the unity of our political parties. Some pray, some show up, some work miracles, some administrate.

If this piques your interest I recommend Richard Foster’s Streams of Living Water. If you want more from the original source, look at 1 Corinthians 12:12 and the vicinity. There to the end of the chapter stands on its own pretty well.

Speaking of confirmation bias…

Is it Okay to Take a Risk – and Fail?

From a knowledge standpoint I saw that headline and had thoughts along the lines of: “Of course, if you never fail when taking risks then “risk” is a meaningless word.

From a “how I live my life” point of view I definitely make choices as if success is never failing.

Like they say, “In theory, practice is the same as theory, but in practice it isn’t”