March 16, Wednesday
The Word Shapes*
Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NRSV)
Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
I have to wonder if the first readers laughed (or scoffed) incredulously at this passage. Throughout Deuteronomy, Moses gives five lengthy speeches reminding the people of God’s provision and all those seemingly tedious commandments God gave at Sinai. To top it all off, God says that the commandments are not all that hard.
I bet the Israelites begged to differ.
However mind-numbing we may find those commandments, it is with that Law that God set about shaping his people, giving them a new identity. The words of God defined them. When the Word became flesh and revealed the deeper meaning of the Law—which is love—God continued the work of shaping the identity of his people. This time, he did more than command with words; he demonstrated his love toward us. The redeeming act of love in which the Word gave himself for our sins shaped the identity of his Covenant people, the Church.
With the Law God said, “This is who you are. Now, go be it.” On the cross God said, “This is who I am. Now, go be it.”
Today we breathe a sigh of relief and thank God that we no longer have to keep the Mosaic Law. Our commandment is simply to love like Christ, to be his body, to deny ourselves and take up our crosses to follow him. That’s not too hard for us, right? (Maybe the Law doesn’t sound so tough, after all.)
The Early Church Fathers often said that when the Church speaks, Christ speaks. As the body of Christ, our mouths are filled with his words because he dwells in our hearts. He is not too far from us that we need someone to go to heaven or across the sea to find him. Rather, he came to us just as he has always done. We have the means to love like Christ. We have Christ himself.
Does your heart and mouth bear witness to the fact that God’s Word dwells in you?
May we not forget our true identity and calling. May our mouths and hearts be filled with the transforming Word of God.
By Tylor Standley, 2015 Logue Scholarship recipient
George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Waco, Texas
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