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Jul
16

The Art of Living Biblically

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares Yahweh, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.”

~ Jeremiah 31:33

My husband and I sat outside one afternoon and I posed the question, “How do we define ourselves now?” I felt conflicted and torn. I had no desire to be labeled, no desire to be a part of belonging to any group or denomination or religion. Of course, there has been no shortage the last couple of years as word traveled about our small town of who others thought we were – and let’s be honest, it is crushing how cruel Christians can be to one another.

So now, faced with a conundrum of epic proportions, we faced our dilemma.

Now, you might believe that it doesn’t really matter, but words carry with them connotations and emotions and how we categorize ourselves speaks of what we believe.

If I say I am a Christian, the average person might describe that as not adhering to specific commands in the Bible such as not eating pork. It would be assumed that I attend church on Sunday instead of keeping Yahweh’s Sabbath, and that I celebrate Christmas and Easter as a main focus on the birth of Christ and His resurrection.

If I say I am a part of the Hebrew Roots movement, then people might believe that I am a multitude of things and many of them not good things. Mostly, it would be believed that I a heretic and Judazier (and I have been called both) because I believe the Torah is to be applied to my life and that differs from what the mainstream protestant church teaches Paul said.

It seemed we did not really fit into a category and it bothered me a bit. Mostly because we are misunderstood. How would I explain in a word or two how we identified as followers of Yeshua?

There were other conflicts as well. My husband inquired about a lamb for Passover at the grocery – we live in a small southern town and it is primarily Baptist in denomination. As my husband is standing in front of the butchers with the mission of purchasing a leg of lamb, questions arise of when he needs it by – my husband replies for Passover. This sends a wave of confusion forth. One goes to the back to retrieve a calendar. They look at dates and confer and then one looks up at my husband and says so very seriously, “Isn’t Passover a Jewish thing?”

For me, keeping Sabbath is an easy task. I do not work a secular job – I take care of the homestead and write and compile study notes as a point of basis for our Sabbath discussions; for him, he must navigate days off and repeatedly explain why Saturday is not a day for him to work, but Sunday is fine. So in a world of categories and labels, how does one define themselves in this instance?

We are Christians, but yet we do not adhere to mainstream christian doctrine. We study the Bible in the Ancient Near Eastern context of which it was written, yet Hebrew Roots is not an apt description. We keep the feasts of Leviticus 23 in lieu of christmas and easter, but we aren’t Jewish. We eat a clean diet as prescribed in Leviticus 11 – and that causes raised eyebrows here in the South where main dishes often are ham and bar-b-que.

We sit. We discuss. Because we want to accurately define our faith without necessarily having a 3 day discussion.

I suggest we tell others we live a Biblical life.

He firmly replies, “I am not living without electricity.”

I laugh because I know this about my husband – he has two battery backups for his phone because he is never without it.

So enter in the long lost and forgotten book I bought last autumn. I love watching TED talks. And everyday, a new one arrives in my inbox. So last year, I watched one presented by A.J. Jacobs entitled, “My Year of Living Biblically” and not knowing who he was, I was thrilled thinking that here was someone who was on the same path as my husband and myself. A fellow truth seeker and follower of Yeshua.

Ummmm….yeah. Not exactly.

In short, A. J. Jacobs likes to do experiments and then write about them. He is an editor at Esquire which explains why I had no idea who he was. And this talk was about one of those experiments. His goal was to live the Bible as literally as he could. So he proceeded to write down all the laws in scripture and follow them. In the course of the year, some unexpected things happened that he says brought about unexpected changes in his mindset and in his habits. His reasoning and views of the Bible differed greatly from mine, and yet I was curious. From an agnostics point of view, how would it look to try and live a biblical life? For myself as a believer, it simply meant seeking the truth and applying it to my life for the purposes of being set-apart and holy as Yahweh commands me to be and to accurately reflect Yeshua to the world.

His talk was intriguing and inspired me to think more about what living Biblically really did mean. I bought a copy of his book. I placed it on the table beside the bed where my current reading list of books reside and forgot about it.

But as I have drifted on my own, with no fellowship group, remembering all the lessons I had to learn the last two and a half years, my thoughts kept returning to who I am – how do I fit into the body of believers? How do I define myself and more importantly how do I explain to others what I believe. We live in a world of labels and categories. What one word describes who I am in relation to Yahweh?

Because what we really are is an enigma.

We don’t fit into the multitude of categories the world creates.

And maybe that is how it should be. Just maybe that is the beginning of being set-apart – this not fitting in. And the why of not fitting denotes to whom we belong.

And that prompted me to pick up that forgotten book in the stack. To explore whether the journey of an agnostic would really be that much different than my own even if our motives for the journey were. Because regardless of the reasons, one thing is guaranteed, we both are changed for it for Yahweh’s divine purposes.

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 

As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

~ John 17:16-18

This series will be housed under The Art of Living Biblically category and need not be read in any specific order. If you are interested in the TedTalk, here is the link:

https://www.ted.com/talks/a_j_jacobs_year_of_living_biblically#t-1320

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