Deuteronomy 4:5-9

See, just as the Lord my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?

But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children… Deuteronomy 4:5-9

On October 30th I wrote a devotion that played with the idea of God’s plans. A pastor friend of mine didn’t hesitate to dash off an email in response. He wrote to tell me that “of course God has a plan, Deuteronomy 6:4-9.”

God teaches us and we in turn teach our children. That’s God’s plan.

Far be it from me to take issue with a colleague who is both older and wiser than me…but, if it were that simple, how is it that we have wound up in 2014 with several competing branches of Judaism and 41,000 Christian denominations in the world? All of whom I expect are teaching slightly different things.

Thus, while I think that parents teaching children is not only God’s plan but it is also the way things actually work, there remains the issue of just what it is that parents are teaching.

We could, for example, teach our children that “our God is much better than all of their gods.” Deuteronomy says “For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him?” We then position ourselves as competing with others in a religiously diverse world, arguing the merits of our local “god franchise” over against all of the others out there.

Does such “religious competition” make the world a better place? Is winning the hearts and minds of people, so that everybody else believes in the same god in the same way as us, really job one in what we teach our children?

Far better than looking out at the world we want to conquer, I think, is to look inward at the work that God wants to be doing in our lives and then passing that down to our children. Not just in our words but in our actions.

Jesus kept it simple. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.

It seems to me that there is a lifetime of teaching ahead of us in that alone.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we have all internalized messages that we have been taught along the way. Some of what we have been taught has been and continues to be helpful in our lives. Some we need to discard. Grant us grace to tell the difference. And, by the power of your Spirit in our midst, guide us as we pass the faith which you have given us, to those who will follow after us. May we live in love for the good of the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Deuteronomy 4:5-9”

  1. Gene Says:

    As for ‘competing’, that is not what I get from the Bible. I get that we are to teach our children, and everyone else that there is only one god, the Lord our God, and that He sent Jesus to die for our sins. That all of this is by His grace through faith alone!!

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