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Written by Jim Jordal   
Wednesday, 12 November 2014

“FOR THIS IS MAN’S ALL…”

By Jim Jordal

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep his commandment, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecc. 12:13-14, NKJV).

After all the issues are presented and after all interested parties have spoken, and after the highest human judgment is rendered, and argument ceases, then comes the clear, penetrating word of God with the simple conclusion as to what human life is about: “Fear God and keep his commandments.”

Can it really be this simple? Yes, it can! But human philosophy, our penchant for rules, and our need to capture the great things of God in contrived doctrines and their supporting structures have over the centuries diffused God’s clear will into ever-more opaque strategies and procedures.

But we must first note that the two verses above are not relegated to the ash heap of Old Testament law by the advent of grace. They remain as simple and powerful as ever. What are abrogated by grace are the ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Testament. They are superseded by Christ, but God’s laws concerning righteousness, justice, mercy, and truth remain as guideposts for future human government and political, economic, and social systems.

If you wish to see the opposite of keeping God’s commandments, just watch TV for a few hours. You’ll likely get the message that what passes for the common culture is nothing but beautifully wrapped garbage, and is almost diametrically opposed to the laws of God. Perhaps the prophet Jeremiah said it best as he lamented the corruption and impending downfall of his people: “Those who ate delicacies are desolate in the streets: Those who were brought up in scarlet embrace ash heaps” (Lam. 4:5). Actually the King James puts it more graphically when it says they “embrace dunghills.” So much for the great values of the common culture.

So what would we be doing if we obeyed God’s law? The greatest law is that of loving God first and the loving one’s neighbors as one’s self. But unless some specific behaviors of what love in action does are included, love becomes just another nice idea with no real meaning. The substance of love is doing what God commands.

God says we should accept and honor his Son, Jesus. This we do with great sincerity, but somewhere in our adoration of the Son we lose the concept that honoring Jesus means doing as he taught. In his first sermon recorded in Luke 4 Jesus clearly states his mission to preach the gospel of deliverance to the poor, brokenhearted, blind, and suffering captives of earthly systems.

We lose the full meaning of this deliverance when we attempt to spiritualize and individualize it. We speak continually of the “gospel,” but tend to limit it to our post-crucifixion freedom from the demands of the law and personal salvation. By doing this we dishonor God’s imperative that we act on what we claim to believe by doing what Christ taught.

So what would we do if we acted on God’s many commands, often reiterated by Christ, against the accumulation of wealth by immoral and oppressive means and the equally evil use of this wealth to rig the political and economic systems so as to benefit great wealth at the expense of the poor and middle classes?

And what would we do if we believed and acted on what Jesus taught about living wages for all workers in his Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard?

And to be fair to those who still believe that the poor are responsible for their own poverty, what might we do if if we believed what Proverbs says concerning the responsibilities of labor? What about workers contributing a fair day’s work for that living wage?

There’s no doubt in my mind that if we the “churched” of America really believed and acted upon what God says and what Christ taught, this world would be a vastly different place.