Lately, I have found a new use for YouVersion. Call me slow, but it only took me about two months to figure out that they have added an audio icon allowing the Scriptures to be heard instead of (or simultaneously while) read. The benefit for me is that I spend hours on the road each week with my job and I can much more easily redeem the time.
About ten days ago I started listening to Jeremiah and just let it run. I turn it on as soon as I get on the road and pause it at each work stop. The result is that by Friday afternoon, I found myself in 1 John, having listened to nearly half of the Bible. I can’t wait to finish and start over at Genesis.
While my mind may be wandering through many thoughts as I drive, I know Truth is going in and, at the very least, it is being absorbed by my subconscious. And, this opens a whole ‘nother discussion about the very real physical changes, even at the DNA level (scientifically proven, cue Tzefania Pappas’ presentation at the 3rd Bney Yosef Congress), that occur in the brain based on what we are putting in. Kelly, my wife, would offer a supporting opinion based on Switch ON Your Brain, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. But, I digress.
So, early Friday afternoon I wrapped up my week’s drive while listening to Ephesians through 2 Peter, then interestingly, our Shabbat gathering wound up reading and discussing the next book in the series, 1 John. A very wise and respected elder led and discussed ‘love’ as I soaked in his thoughts. Pieces came together.
Ephesians 4:14-15 tells us,
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head…
And, James 4:11-12 says,
11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?
The issue that the elder took up as we read and studied the first three chapters of 1 John was love. And, while his discussion covered many areas, he specifically took time to deal with the problem in the Hebrew roots Torah awakening of people who divide or shun over doctrinal differences or avoidance of ‘sensitive’ topics. He termed this ‘hating our brother.’
James has harsh things to say about judging our brother. He also has some very strong things to say about sins of the tongue. My experience seeing others judged and being judged informs me that the wagging tongue is very closely associated with judging. Lashon hara (gossip, slander or even truth intended to bring harm) is hating our brother.
Most of I John is apropos, however 2:9-11 is a scalpel,
9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
When are we, the Hebrew roots community, going to stop dividing over minor issues? When are we going to be willing to stand with brothers even when we have disagreements over non-salvation issues? If we can’t be trusted with a little discomfort because a brother differs in understanding, do we really think we can be trusted with real persecution?
Laura Densmore has an excellent article touching on this issue from a slightly different perspective. In Building a Bridge Across the Raging River, she does an excellent job of demonstrating that we will NOT GET THERE until we are willing to link arms with others unlike ourselves. The bottom line is, the restoration of kol Israel demands acceptance of a gradient of belief that is true to the Word, else, there will be no restoration.
As long as we put limits on what God can teach us or others, and limits on what truths He teaches whom, we judge HIM and His Word. In doing so, we demonstrate that we still have darkness in our hearts and that we aren’t willing to let Him be Elohim! Outwardly we may profess restoration, but inwardly we hate out brother and judge the Word.