It sounds so straightforward. Choose Life.
That’s the decision God puts before Israel in Deuteronomy 30. “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (verse 19)
Choose Life. It’s like God gives a multiple choice quiz to the Israelites, and hands them the answer script with it.
The Blessings are listed, wealth, health, long life and Blessing in the land He will give them. The curses are also listed. Death and poverty.
It seems an easy choice. Follow God, and you get the Blessings. Don’t and you get the curses.
But they don’t – mostly. The Old Testament is filled with the stories of men who started well, but fell apart before the end, turning away from God and watching their life’s legacy fall apart with it. A few stand apart from the crowd. Caleb and Joshua, Jabez, Elijah, Elisha and some of the kings like Josiah who oversee revivial and repentance in Israel, but the majority is men who fail for one reason: they failed to fix their hearts on God.
David was a man who was known to seek God’s Heart. He was so in tune with Him that when his own sin in the murder of Bathsheba’s husband is brought to his attention he repents immediately. His son starts well, and his grandson even more so, calling off an entire war because the prophet tells him to. But Solomon and Rehoboam took their eyes off the game, and ultimately the kingdom was divided and fell apart. Ten tribes were lost into captivity and the once powerful nation never regained it’s former status.
Because the leaders chose something other than life.
We have the same choice. The curse is lifted – as long as we accept Jesus’s sacrifice – and we can live in the full Blessing God outlines in Deuteronomy. The Law was never meant to be fulfilled, rather it pointed to Jesus as the one person who could keep it, wholly set apart but at the same time a man in time. A sacrament for our relationship restoration.
So choose Life. Life in Christ. It’s not easy. It’s free, but it costs everything.
There are days when darkness will close in around you and all we have is the smallest of candles, but even that light cannot be extinguished by darkness itself. We have to choose to let it go out.
Life. The Glory of God is man fully alive wrote St Iraneus. Man fully alive. Jesus’s own words echoing back at us, that His heart was for us to have abundant life. He wanted us to live to the fullest.
Yet we allow ourselves to be burdened with “ought to” or “should” or “didn’t” and heap condemnation and death on ourselves. We need to learn to cast off these shackles holding us to the old life we had before we became Christians, and actually be Christians. Imitators of Christ. In the first century it was a nickname given to the believers because wherever they went describing the works of Jesus, those same works, signs and wonders followed them.
I’ve never seen anyone raised from the dead, although I have met 5 people who have been raised up from physical death. I’ve seen a few little healings here and there, and received a few myself.
But Christian, an imitator of Jesus? I wonder if it would be recognised by the men and women who were followers of the Way in Jerusalem? I’m not sure.
James says we should demonstrate our faith through our actions. Signs and wonders are supposed to follow us as believers. How then have we reached the place where the spiritual cart is before the horse? We want to see a miracle, then claim responsibility for it. Scripturally, that’s not how it works. Jesus would do the miracle as a wake-up call to the people, feeding them spiritually and mending them physically to back up His words. We (including me) miss that part.
Stand with me today. Take up Jesus’s challenge.