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1.19.2005    |    Jots and Tittles
At its most basic, our Christian faith is based on Deuteronomy 6:5 (all citations from the NIV): Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. We could argue day and night about the ins and outs of the Law as laid down by God in the Torah, but our Lord tells us, with great simplicity that this is really all there is.

Well, not quite all. There is also this item, picked up from Leviticus 19:18: Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Now, as He was also the Author, I’d like to think that Jesus knew of what He spoke to the Israelites. Difference being, Jesus now widens the context of “your people.” No longer are “your people” limited to the literal tribes of Israel. Rather, all people may now join and become part of the new Israel through belief in Him.

In context, we have Jesus wrapping up all of the laws expressed in Torah thusly: From Matthew 22:
36 Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Earlier in Matthew, Jesus had rather specifically rebuked the notion that the Mosaic Law was abolished. Rather, He had come to fulfil it; to give it flesh as it were, and to deepen our understanding of what it meant to be observant. From Matthew 5:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
So, the believing Christian asks, “does this mean no more bacon”? And should we not have Mezuzot on our doorposts, as clearly mandated by Deuteronomy 6:9? Here is where Biblical literalists can get their knickers in a twist. My answer is we don’t need to follow the literal details, down to the “jots and tittles”, to use the King James’ terminology. Yet Jesus says those are still in effect.

On the other hand, and in Bible study there's always another hand, if Jesus embodies the fulfillment of the Law in His incarnation, why should we sweat those pesky little details? My response, for what it's worth, is that Jesus, as the living Word, tells us in His earthly ministry to sweat the big things, and the small things will fall into place. And those big things are, of course, loving the Lord, totally, without hint of reservation -- but not confusing ritual acts with love.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.