I came across an idea today that is distinctly Jewish, but it bears some thought. The author made a point that the central Jewish religious consciousness is the mistvah – or the doing of what God said, in overly simplified definition. He makes a contrast to what he, being Jewish, sees as the central Christian idea of avoiding or washing away of sin. I found it an interesting contrast.
So, in effect, do Christians seem to be focused on the job of taking off dirty clothes and getting them washed? Do we focus overly much on the “do not’s” rather than the “do’s?”
I have seen so many Christian Facebook posts and heard so many sermons on the idea of sin. And, as Ecclesiastes points out, there is a time for everything. But when do we ever get to the doing? When do we get to the praying continually, giving thanks in all circumstances, giving with a cheerfulness, walking the extra mile, shrugging off insults, and welcoming the stranger, outcast, widow, and orphan?
Mitzvah is considered, again simplified, as something to be acquired, something to put on, like clothing. Heschel, the author, points out that Jewish tradition describes sin as “losing mitzvah” which is one reason why Adam and Eve felt naked, because they had stripped off the one mitzvah (rule) they had.
Also, as Christians, we’re called to a much higher standard than “keep your new shoes clean.” If we go through our day focused on, “Don’t mess up,” we are ultimately missing out on the joy of Christianity. Our goal should be to go out and do the good deed, be charitable, be kind, be sacrificial in our giving to others. We don’t hear that enough. We serve a King, and he has commanded His people to love, to get out there and take risks on behalf of others.
What is the focus in your home? Do you and your family focus on the do not’s or do you focus on the do’s? What is your standard for living life: keep clean while avoiding sin, or take risks in kindness and generosity? Are you shooting for the curb or aiming to shine like stars in a crooked and depraved generation?