Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

Presented by Mike Tune, Pulpit Minister for the Church of Christ in Falls Church and Amazing Grace International

Grace Words: A Daily Bible Reader’s Blog

Brother’s Keeper

Our Daily Bible Readings this week took us through Leviticus 19, which, at first glance, appears to be a hodge-podge of commandments covering a variety of subjects.  The chapter, however, is  a quite clever composition and central to the book of Leviticus.  Within it you will find all of the ten commandments but there is at least one main difference between it and the other two places where those occur: The basis for these commands in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 6 is that God brought Israel out of the land of Egypt.  The basis for the commands in Leviticus 19 is that He is “Holy.”  Because God is holy, His people are to be holy.  One writer calls Leviticus 19 the “highest development of ethics in the Old Testament.”

But one command stood out to me, found in the latter part of verse 17: “Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.”

“Neighbor” in this text is not just one who lives in close proximity to you, but, in the Old Testament, refers to a fellow Israelite.  In other words, God’s people have a responsibility to one another to look after one another, to look out for one another, and if we observe failing on the part of our fellow family member – we must speak to him (or her).

The passage is central to the idea of loving your neighbor as yourself (verse 18), but it is also central to personal well-being.  If a Christian is headed down the wrong road, the Christian who sees it is responsible for warning.  There are no options for non-involvement. To refuse is to enter the fate of the misdirected.  From the beginning of the Bible, we are our brother’s keeper.

My Church

“Can I get a hallelujah?
Can I get an amen?
Feels like the Holy Ghost runnin’ through ya
When I play the highway FM.”

So begins the chorus of country singer Maren Morris’ new song “My Church.”

It’s a confession really – the confession of a young woman whose very deliberate, unapologetically wayward life cuts her off (she feels) from regular “Church.”  And so, she gets in her car, rolls the windows down, cranks up the radio and, with the wind blowing in her hair, finds “holy redemption” in a Church (her car) where “Hank brings the sermon and Cash leads the choir.”

Please don’t think me critical of Ms. Morris.  She just sings the song (really well I might add) and I presume it is not autobiographical.  But far too many have bought the sentiment.  Unwilling to yield our lives to the guidance and discipline of the Holy Spirit, we settle for something we think “feels like the Holy Spirit” and convince ourselves we’ve found redemption on our own terms.

We haven’t. The feeling is deceiving.

Redemption comes but one way – through the sacrifice of Christ experienced not alone on a highway racing to elude a heavy heart with the wind in our hair, but in the fellowship of other redeemed people known as the “body of Christ.”  Not even Saul of Tarsus experienced salvation until in the company of another redeemed sinner. The songs and pop spirituality of modern culture may comfort us slightly with notions of finding God on our own terms, but it’s a deception. God is found truly and only on His terms. All else is a lie.  A toe-tappin’ lie perhaps, but a lie none-the-less.