Seeker: “Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.”
Preacher: And who interprets the “law of the Lord”. Because from what I have been seeing and hearing, there are some who are NOT happy!
Seeker: “Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.”
Preacher: Again, hearing from a lot of Unhappy people! People from all persuasions and walks of life who think THEIR style of “walking” with the Lord, and any other style is wrong and sinful. A lot of unhappy people!
Seeker: Preacher, what kind of point are you trying to make here?
Preacher: We read and recite these verses as if “happy” is an attribute that everyone shares. But over the years Christianity has resulted in judgment and persecution, division and dissension. And I just can’t ignore it anymore! If Christian men and women of good will and intent cannot agree on how to live out the Christian life, how can we promote and model good Christian living.
Seeker: That sounds like a question I should be asking.
Preacher: Well then, why aren’t you?!
Seeker: I guess because it is easier to take refuge in the words of scripture than it is to try to live them out. You are correct, Preacher, there are a lot of unhappy people. And I confess, at times I am one of them. Preacher, how can we know if we are living out the laws and decrees of the Lord God in an acceptable way?
Preacher: “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.” But diligence is not always enough. While we may be scrupulous about the commandments, we need to keep in mind also the intent of the commandments.
Seeker: Jesus spoke to that when he preached. I remember that passage from Matthew. I confess I worry that I may not be carrying out both the letter and the spirit.
Preacher: The psalmist correctly said, “O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” While in the time of the psalmist the believers may not have considered how to be steadfast, we know from the stories of the Israelites that they should have.
Seeker: It is interesting too that the psalmist said, “Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.” It argues against if self; if they had kept their eyes on the commandments, then they should not have been conquered by other nations. But they were. So were they steadfast or not?
Preacher: You are thinking about this well, Seeker. And that was my point in my “raising a ruckus”. They believed they were steadfast. But like in our modern times, steadfast belief gave way to structured and rigid belief. The prophets warned them, that they were not allowing their heart and compassion to rule their thoughts and actions. The psalmist does foresee an corrective might be needed when he says, “I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances.”
Seeker: Yes, and then he says, “I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.” (Psalm 119:1-8) We could and should say the same things. We need to make sure our beliefs and the way we live them out does not cause upset of any nature or type towards members of humanity.
Preacher: Now you are seeing the heart, the spirit, the intent of the commandments and Jesus’ teaching. You are well on the way, Seeker!