Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day 19: We Are Nothing Without Love

"Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.  Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you."
-Deuteronomy 4:1-2

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about the Bible. I can’t quote verses or tell you what book comes before or after another book, but I do know that a lot of times verses can have different meanings depending on how you look at them. The first time I read this passage from Deuteronomy, I was a little annoyed, because I believe that spirituality and belief can be very fluid. “Where’s the flexibility?” I wondered. “You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you” Deuteronomy 4:2. It’s very strict. But after reading the words a few times, I had an “aha” moment.

We learn, most of us, from a very young age about the Ten Commandments. And what do the Ten Commandments say really? Don’t hurt each other, love God and each other, and treat each other with respect. This is essentially what the Ten Commandments boil down to, these are the only rules we need to follow in our lives, and this is what I believe the passage is talking about. I believe that this passage is telling us that we have to treat everyone well and it doesn’t matter if their belief system is different from ours.

The Christian tradition, historically and now, is one of persecution. There has always been someone who is wrong, who is not welcome, who is different and we shut them out because of these differences. How do we follow the commandments God gave us, and only those commandments, if we continue to persecute people who believe in something different from what we believe? What are we teaching our children and our children’s children and those who come after with these actions. Are we really protecting each other, loving each other, respecting each other?

So what I believe this passage is saying, is that regardless of someone’s belief systems, race, sexuality, coffee preference, we don’t hurt each other. We love each other. We treat each other with respect. By doing this, we follow God’s commandments and only God’s commandments. We don’t add, we don’t take away. By doing this, we fill the world with love. We teach love to those who come after us. Because we are nothing without love.

Claire Harkey is 26 years old and from the Diocese of Mississippi. 
She currently spends her days hanging out with the high school students of 
La Escuela Episcopal El Buen Pastor in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

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