Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 2:18–36; Acts 15:22–41
“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” (Acts 15:28-29)
We think of God’s Law as the Ten Commandments. Half-right! There are thousands of commandments in the Bible. The problem with law is that it never ends. Every rule requires more rules. Then there are exceptions and even more rules. Look at the legislation that comes out of Congress. You know what I mean.
The Ten Commandments are the tip of an iceberg; an over-simplification of the Bible. There are chapters and entire books of rules and regulations in the Bible. “You can eat this meat. That kind of animal is ‘unclean.’” Every law must be kept perfect. The righteousness of God demands it.
As lawyers, we try to weasel around. We create loopholes. We attempt to escape the ones we do not like. We decide some laws are “ceremonial.” We say others are “moral,” or “civil.” If we are clever, we can ignore the ones we don’t like. Wrong! We are condemned.
God says we are to keep every one of His laws perfectly. Oops. Every day, we break laws we don’t even know exist. We stand condemned. The curse of sin has resulted in our breaking of every righteous law which the Lord has given. We tell ourselves that God doesn’t expect us to keep them.. No matter how we slice it, we are seriously messed up by God’s Law.
Thankfully, Jesus has fulfilled them all and kept every rule. Now in Christ, the Law is complete (Not that it no longer exists). We are freed. This does not mean that it no longer matters how we live, or that we can do anything we want. It does mean we are no longer measured in that way.
So what’s the big deal about sex? Why does God make rules about eating meat with blood in it? These practices were carried on by the pagan religions around the early church. For these reasons, the early Church leaders asked that the new Gentile Christians use even greater care and not confess the true faith with the religion of idols We are free from the demands of the law. We are not free to sin against God’s beautiful design for life and for love.
The Rev. Carlton Hein, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Loveland, CO, is the author for this portion of the Trinity season.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.