Prayer for the day
In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
Scripture for the day
The level of specificity employed by God to direct the Israelites regarding their cleanliness seems a bit over-the-top, doesn’t it? All this talk about birds and sheep and mold and shaving seems to push us firmly into the region of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (no offense intended toward those with OCD…a very real and difficult disorder).
God is very clear about his directions to the Israelites because he wants to avoid any seeking of loopholes. Even with a very specific law, we twist and turn to try and find a way around difficult requirements. Think of the young rich man who encountered Jesus and desired to be a part of the kingdom. He was looking for Jesus to simply affirm his entrance, and when Jesus intensified the requirements without a loophole, he walked away sad.
It may not be as obvious, but the desire for loopholes existed in the disciples as well. Much of Jesus’ teaching to them had been about the cost of followership and how much following Jesus would require. Each of them had declared his undying admiration and desire to follow Jesus, and at the first sign of trouble, they seek out the danger loophole. “They’re coming with swords…let’s get out of here.”
I don’t blame the disciples for running. I would’ve been scared too. But even in the midst of this possible violence, Jesus doesn’t allow loopholes.
Peter draws a sword and strikes out with it. Jesus rebukes Peter for his use of violence in the face of violence. His rebuke of Peter should give all of us pause. How many, if faced with violence, will respond with the use of violence “as a last resort” or “for self-defence?” Jesus closes the loophole for Peter, and says that his Kingdom is the Kingdom of Peace…and that those who draw the sword will die by the sword. The implied truth Jesus is speaking: The kingdom of the sword is life-taking in so many ways; the Kingdom of God is life-giving.
Let’s stop seeking the loopholes and start living our lives dedicated fully to Christ. No ifs, ands, or buts.