First, I think we have to consider how we understand God, and therefore, the Bible. For me, I don’t understand God as some humanoid supernatural being who has wants, desires and such like us. When it suggests as much in scripture, I think that tells us more about us than it does about God.
Which leads me to my second point. Although some understand the bible as God’s way of trying to communicate with humanity, I see it more as a centuries-long account of humanity seeking and trying to understand God. As such, we tend to put words into God’s mouth, place God on our side and the nature and will of God seems to change, depending on who is in charge.
So if we understand much of the Bible as humanity’s attempt to know a fundamentally (in many ways) incomprehensible God, then we’re back to the original question again: how do we know what God wants from us?
This is one reason, if not perhaps the main reason, I consider myself a disciple of Jesus.
Jesus understood, better than anyone else, what we tended to do with things when we get our hands on them. Give us a set of rule to help maintain social order and to help us live more sustainable, holy lives and we’ll look for the loophole. Better yet, we’ll find a way to lord control of said rules over other people, creating a system of laws from them we employ to subdue, repress or even kill.
Then along comes Jesus with his one, jarringly simple commandment to love God, one another and ourselves with all that we have an all that we are. Good luck finding the loophole in that one.
The definition of the word “radical” originally wasn’t so much about being extreme or on the fringe, but rather it actually refers to something that is without roots. The Greatest Commandment offered by Jesus brought radicality to the existing law by cutting loose the roots of power from them. It didn’t take a fancy education to understand it. It didn’t provide any opportunity for one person to lord it over another that they were better at it. It simply points us back, over and over again, to the whole point of it all.
It’s beautiful, and it sounds nice when we say it. But it’s both deceptively simple and terrifically radical in its application. And once again, Jesus challenges the greatest power structures in the world without raising a hand.
Now that’s someone worth modeling a life after.
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