My faith is something that is very dear to me. I’m not perfect by any means, but I want to be. This means I have a never-ending goal of always doing better. It also means that as I study The Word, my understanding changes, grows, matures. I’m not the same person today that I was 10 years ago (thankfully!) or even six months ago (that’s good, too, actually…). My “religious identity” has changed as well.
I used to identify with Christian. Then decided I didn’t need God and I was an Atheist for a while. Then one day I realized I was just fooling myself…I really need God. I searched and I found Him and once again called myself Christian.
Over a decade later, I experienced a sort of “crisis of faith” where suddenly, I found myself questioning everything I’d ever believed. It shook me to my core. Nothing made sense anymore. I would sit in church and hear or read something that just didn’t quite add up for some reason. Desperate for truth, I cried out to God. I was not quite prepared for what He had to say.
“My child, thou shalt put it all on the altar”
Well, that’s not quite how He said it, but it sounds more pious that way. After all, everyone back in Bible times talked with thee’s and thou’s, right? Riiiiigggghhhhtttt…
As complex and amazing as our Creator is, He still keeps it simple. He simply said
Put it all on the chopping block.
What? You want me to do what? Put everything I’ve ever believed…every doctrine, every dogma, every rule I’ve ever been taught and put it on the chopping block. He would trim away the fat and the gristle, remove the bones and other unsightly, inedible parts and leave me with pure, lean truth. A thick, juicy filet that not only melts in my mouth and tastes so good I want to savor every bite forever but also nourishes my mind, body and spirit.
I’ll admit, I struggled a bit. What if’s kept going through my mind. What if I’ve got it all wrong? What if I have to start doing something I don’t want to do? What if I have to stop doing something I really enjoy? But eventually one thought drowned out the doubtful voices of What Ifs.
What did I have to lose?
Only misinterpretations, misunderstandings or even outright lies. Things that grieve my Abba’s heart and keep me from experiencing the life He intended for me to live. Junk food in my spiritual diet. I’ve been walking on a Real Food path of eating in the natural realm – my spiritual health is even more important. It was time to get the junk out and fill my spirit with real, whole, nourishing spiritual truths.
Since then, I have been on a roller coaster ride of discovery. I don’t always like what He reveals to me, because it often involves painful changes. Surgery hurts, too, but it is necessary to remove things from a body that don’t belong there and that may eventually lead to death. Enduring a little pain or discomfort to improve my spiritual health is worth it.
The biggest revelations I had were very simple:
- How can I understand the “back of the book” (NT) if I don’t really know what is in “the front of the book” (OT)? That’s like picking up a novel and starting in the middle and thinking you really got the whole picture.
- When reading Scripture, it is imperative to have an understanding of context, the intended audience, and the culture/mindset of the time it was written to fully understand what you’re reading. Picking out verses that say what supports your doctrinal beliefs without fully grasping those imperatives leads to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. And, it is important to understand that historically, anti-Semitic bias factors into Bible translation and traditions…such as Christmas and Easter.
- When we accept Messiah, we are “adopted” into God’s family. If we adopted children, would we have one set of rules for our natural-born children and a different set of rules for our adopted children? I think this was the one that really grabbed a hold of me the most. Our Creator desires unity in His family. How can we be unified with Jew on one side and Christian on the other? Could it just possibly be that each side has something right, but the blending of the parts that are right of the two belief systems is actually what the Father intended from the beginning?
- Is it enough to say, “But, God knows my heart.” His Word says He knows the heart of man, and that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (v 10). If the Creator says to keep the Sabbath on the day that HE declared to be Holy (the seventh day, or Saturday), Can we justify breaking that commandment by saying “Well, God knows my heart. He knows I love Him.” If your spouse never showed you that they love you in the way that you want to be loved, and explained it away by saying “He/She knows I love them,” would that justify it in your eyes? We so often say that we are the Bride, but how do we show our Bridegroom that we love Him?
In light of those revelations, my understanding of how the Father wants His children to behave and live has not been changed so much as enhanced. Just as Yeshua (aka Jesus by Christianity) said He did not come to abolish the law (or Torah) but to fulfill it (complete it in the sense that it is enhanced, or elevated, not finished), so my understanding is enhanced.
The “law” is more than just a set of rules to follow. And, if you really think about it, does it make sense that Christians say the law is just for the Jews because it was given to them back in the Old Testament times so we don’t have to follow it…yet we can extract ten of them (which, incidentally, were given during the same “Bible times”) and make them a tenet of our faith? What about the rest of the commandments of God? Does it truly make sense that those who accept the virgin birth, death and resurrection of the Son of God can live by only Ten Commandments, while those who don’t must live by 613? Was it the law itself nailed to the cross or was it the penalty for not keeping the law?
When you ask for the truth, ask questions like those, and search the Scriptures with a heart that is willing to receive the truth from the Author of all Truth, even when it contradicts everything you’ve ever been taught, or just believed because it seemed like it was right, be prepared for some shaking of your foundations. I don’t for a moment pretend to be an expert. I don’t have it all figured out. All I know is that there had been something missing in my faith for the last several years…until I began to see that the Father’s Torah is not just a set of impossible, old-fashioned rules that you follow to gain Salvation and which have no relevance today. I have chosen to follow His Torah, out of a heart that loves Him and desires to honor and please Him because I have been saved. I know that no amount of rule-keeping, sacrifice or sack-cloth-and-ashes-wearing will ever get me into heaven. It is only because of the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua that I have been saved.
You can argue with me if you like, that’s fine. We all have the free will to come to our own conclusions and follow or not follow what our Creator has established in the beginning. The Creator who declares that He never changes. That certain things are to be statutes forever. I can no longer believe that Yeshua’s sacrifice has somehow changed those things. Yeshua Himself said:
If you [really] love me, you will keep (obey) My commands.
What are His commands then? Many Christians believe He only had two…
And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first comandment.
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Sounds pretty easy, right? Love God, love your neighbor. That takes care of every demand of the law, so we no longer have to follow all those ridiculous rules. Perhaps. But I challenge you to delve deep into the Word yourself and go back to the beginning. Go back and read for yourself what the Creator said about loving Him and decide if that reasoning truly lines up with the Word.
Like I said, I may have this all wrong but it is my conviction to walk out. I do know one thing. I have accepted Yeshua as my Savior. I have been baptized according to what is in the Word. And I love God…Yahweh…my Abba Father…and desire to follow His Torah, not because I believe it will save my soul, but because my soul has been saved. Observing the Sabbath on the 7th day, not eating foods declared unclean, celebrating His appointed feast days…how will doing any of those things detract from my life if that is what I truly want to do? I am not under bondage to the “law” if I willingly submit to it because that is my conviction. If I do it out of fear or because I think I will obtain Salvation through it, then I am in bondage.
You may disagree with me. If so, bless you. I pray that, above all, each one of us who calls themselves a child of God will willingly receive His truth and walk in it, as long as it is His truth and not man’s interpretation or tradition. If you don’t feel the same conviction, you are free to to walk as you are convicted. I only ask you respect me and my decision…as I am just as free as you are.
My “religious identity” is no longer “Christian.” I am a believer in the God of the Bible, YHWH our Elohim. I am a follower of Yeshua, the Messiah Redeemer. And I have purposed in my own heart to live a Torah Observant life to the best of my understanding and ability.
It is time for those who slumber to awake
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