Advent Week 4: Love
Deuteronomy 30. 15-18
See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This is Moses’ locker room speech. After 40 years of lackluster practice, murmuring about Moses’ Cushite wife, and complaining about bitter water and mildewy manna, it’s game time and Coach Moses will remain on the sidelines in Moab while the Israelites cross the Jordan to run onto the field of the Promised Land.
Moses has one more chance to get the message across. And this is what he writes on the dry-erase board:
Dig deep, drill down, dial in, double down.
Go for it: put on the uniform of Torah and run out there under the banner of Love and choose Life.
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report” (Philippians 4:8): that’s the program. And let all the other stuff go.
Maybe it’s not that simple, but just for today let’s pretend it is. That today, this day is Election Day and Sadie Hawkins Day and the remote is in our hands and we get to choose the channel. Pull the lever for “Life” and for the sweet goodness (Hebrew tov), the sugar in those green plants from Genesis 1, or pull the lever for Death and trouble. That’s the stark choice Moses offers.
And what is the path of Life? For Moses, it’s to make love of God and neighbor your entire mission. In Advent, let me suggest you practice the code of WWMD, “What would Mary do?” Mary about this time, in her final weeks, is too spaced out on body chemicals to be focused on anything other than devotion to the life of Christ. Deuteronomy is about “cleaving” and “being all-in” with heart, soul, and strength.
And there’s also the part about “walking in his ways.” If only you could simply “choose” Life by tapping a touch screen. Sorry, pals; you have to walk it.
Prayer: Put me in, Coach. I pledge allegiance to Love. I open my heart wide, wider, wider to walk today in a Promised Land I’ve never seen before. Loosen my fixation with all my beautiful plans so that, like Mary, I might say, “According to your word, let it be” (Luke 1:38). In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Action: Practice the uncluttered, Deuteronomy life. And your action today is this: do not consult your to-do list. Live without your calendar. Wake up this morning alert to an assignment you have not yet received. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, will reveal itself as a Good Samaritan moment. Walk through your day awake to God and let the Spirit surprise you.
Greg Mobley is Professor of Christian Bible at Andover Newton Theological School and as Pastor of First Baptist Church, Needham in Massachusetts.