...if you don't know what...
...God cares about.
This morning I was reading a wonderfully short blog by Scott McKnight, entitled "The OT's Most Important Command"* It got me thinking on a couple levels.
Leaning on the work of Walter Brueggemann (and who wouldn't?), McKnight reveals a little know fact in the Hebrew language. There are no adverbs. Brueggemann explains, "I’ll give you a little Hebrew grammar.... Biblical Hebrew has no adverbs. The way it expresses the intensity of the verb, it repeats the verb. So if it says give and you want to say “really give” it says “give give” right in the sentence–”give give.”
This little lesson in grammar is not without a point. So if one wants to find a high priority command, look for lots of verbs repeated. With this in mind, Brueggemann says the most stressed command in the Old Testament is not what people might think.
- "Love the LORD your God..."? Nope
- "You shall have no other God's before me"? Nu-uh.
- "You shall work on six days, and the seventh is a sabbath to the LORD"? No.
- "Beat your swords into plowshares"? Not that either.
So before I reveal what McKnight wrote from Brueggeman, let me ask if we really know God well enough to share God's priorities? As a missional conviction, we need to be in mission where God has initiated mission. We look in our neighborhoods, along our sidewalks, where we work and where our kids go to school. We hope to see God active in our worshiping communities and active outside them as well. But we can be blind to what God is doing because we are seeking the actions of God in the wrong places.
If we know God's priorities, might we discern God in action in those places where God's priorities are made manifest?
Missional discernment needs people who know God. Prayerful, reflective, spiritual people who seek the heart of God in a living, personal relationship.
But missional discernment also needs to know about God. To have learned about, acted upon, engaged in the biblical narrative revealing God in action, let's us know this God we are seeking to know deeply.
Often I have thought we need to "know God" more than "knowing about God". But I'm rethinking that. Without knowing about God, we might be chasing a relationship with a god of our own creation. We need both knowing, and knowing about.
So, according to Brueggemann, what is the Old Testament's most important command?
, you get a law about seven years. It’s called the
Year of Release
. It says that at the end of seven years, if a poor person owes you money, cancel the debt." As Brueggemann explains, "[The law] says to not be hard-hearted (or tight fisted) about granting poor people space to live their lives, because you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord God brought you out into the good place." Scott McKnight adds, "So grammatically, the Old Testament scripture with the
as in “you must must must must
do this” is a passage about forgiving debts."
God cares about releasing debts. This is big. Very big. And it let's us know where God's heart is.