Leviticus 18:5New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
5 You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the Lord.
Not so long ago I would have read that and thought ‘what a mean, controlling, bossy thing to say. The bible is insane and so are the people who swallow that hogwash.’ I would have thought God was threatening to kill people if they didn’t do what He said.
Not so long ago I didn’t understand how much God Loves us. I hadn’t experienced God in the way that is only possible through believing Jesus is who He says He is and that He told us the truth. Not so long ago I didn’t understand that the gospel truly is ‘good news’.
Today I read that scripture and I want to fall flat on my face in gratitude for God and His ‘statutes and ordinances’. I’m beginning to understand what God is talking about when he uses words like ‘live’. Here’s a clue (I say to myself because I’m sure this is a ‘well duh’ moment for most of you) – He isn’t talking about walking around and sucking air.
When God refers to ‘living’, He is talking from a different context. He’s talking about peace, about the purest of self expression, about freedom. He’s talking about becoming ready to truly Love and be Loved. He’s talking about becoming a conduit of eternal fulfillment in a world over run by temporal pain.
God knows we cannot escape pain here. In answer to that He has given us ‘statutes and ordinances’ so that we might avoid the snares and traps of taking our suffering to the spiritual level in this corporal world. God doesn’t hand these ‘statutes and ordinances’ down as a fun excuse for punishing us. Rather, He is trying to save us from experiencing the punishment already inherent in this fallen place.
God is our protector. Not our punisher.