Christianity is a revealed religion. It embraces and necessitates the idea that God has spoken to humanity in history and taught His people. But what does He want us to do with this revelation? As Israel gets ready to enter their Promised Land, Moses reviews what is expected of them as they begin the next phase of their history. I think we can look at Deuteronomy 4 and see very clearly what He expected of Israel and, by extension, of us:
“Give heed to the statues and ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live… You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you…Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and understanding.” (Deut 4:1-2, 6)
Give heed. Listen. Do them. Obey them. Keep them. And later he says to pass them on. But if you’ve paid attention to the modern church you’d think he said, “Mangle them. Delete them. Ignore them. Rewrite the one’s you don’t like. Let the Wiggles teach your children.”
Moses is saying no less than St. Paul does to the Thessalonians when he says, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” (1 Thess 2:15) You see, throughout the Bible there is a great emphasis maintaining the faith that has been given to the Church. The book of Jude calls this, the “Faith that was entrusted to all the saints.” All this is to say that despite the shelves at Borders, the PBS and Dateline Specials, and all the hoopla of Dan Brown and Deepak Chopra books, innovation is not a Gospel value.
Israel would enter their promised land. Moses’ challenge would be taken up- for a while. Then unfortunately it would be forgotten. The people would need to be renewed, they would need to remember to take heed, to listen, to do, to obey and to keep the commandments of God.
They would need to remember who their God is, what He has done, what His love means, and what they are called to do and who they are called to be. It is no different for us in the 21st century. Will we have the courage to live the life our Lord is calling us to live?
It begins by learning to listen with new ears to his words. Pray to have your ears, your heart and mind, opened. It continues with acting on what you hear. Pray for an increase in radical obedience—living on what you already know. And, at the end of the day, these basics, when done with passion, dedication, consistency, and the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit will grow you into the life you were called to live.