What does it mean to choose life in a world that often chooses death?
Below you will find the final address of Moses to the people of God. These words are worth considering again today in the midst of this country in which so many people are choosing to follow the way of death. Some things to be aware of as we read:
- This is not an address to people in general. It is an address first to the chosen people of God, the people who followed Abraham and became known as the Israelites and are now known as Jews.
- As such, it is also addressed to followers of Jesus, who we believe is the Christ, the anointed One spoken of in the Hebrew Testament who overcame death and the grave and who summarized all of the Biblical law in the command to love the Lord and love our neighbor.
- This is not an address to a particular nation. Not the nation of Israel nor the nation of the United States nor any other nation state, which are all governmental entities where the people of God may live but which do not declare the kingship authority of God nor do they speak for God at any time or in any place.
- It is wrong to equate any human rule with the Lord God Almighty or with Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For Christians who follow Biblical teachings, the instrument that God has chosen to spread the good news of the gospel is the Church, in itself a fallible and broken witness.
- Our hope does not reside in any human power. Our only hope is in the Lord, the creator of heaven and earth. For we who are Christians, Jesus Christ is this Lord.
Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
What does it mean for us to choose life? To live as a follower of Jesus Christ is to live as people who are IN the world but also to live as people who do not BELONG TO the world. We proclaim that Jesus Christ is King, but we acknowledge that the broader world does not recognize Jesus as King. As followers of Jesus our task is follow the WAY of JESUS while living among a people who are following a different way.
What is the Way of Jesus? As I wrote above, the briefest description of the Way is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) The immediate question becomes Who is my neighbor? The answer to this question is immediately given by Jesus in the passage from Luke.
Let me emphasize again that this commandment of Jesus is directed only to the people of God. It is a commandment that makes no sense to the broader world. While there are many wonderful people in the broader world, the inclination of the broader world’s systems is to divide the world into friends and enemies. However, the people of God, when we are in our right mind, remember that we all used to be enemies of God and that God loved us, and God came looking for us, and God brought us into his family any way. While we deserved death, we were given life.
God saved us. God saves us. God gives us LIFE to the full. This is our great joy. We are rooted in God. It is this awareness that enables us to answer the call of Moses. It is this awareness that enables us to answer the call of Jesus. It is this awareness that enables us to choose life.