Everything, Everywhere, All the Time

It’s a little oblong box. On a piece of paper rolled up inside the box are the words from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 about loving the Lord with heart and soul and strength, about talking about him all the time and everywhere, and about wearing God’s words on hands and forehead.

The paper must be rolled up from left to right so that the first word visible as it is unrolled is the word Hear. (Hebrew is read from right to left.) The little box must be placed on the right side of the doorframe on the upper third of the doorjamb. Those who enter the room must touch the box and, in so doing, remember the words inside it.

Jews call that little box a mezuzah (from the Hebrew word for doorpost). Using it was their way to be obedient to God’s command to “write” his commands “on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:9). There’s still a mezuzah on the right-hand side of the Jaffa Gate in the wall surrounding Old Jerusalem, and pedestrians still reach out and touch it on their way into or out of the city.

The principle of the mezuzah is at the heart of a Reformed world-and-life view. God’s Word is at the center of everything. It’s unavoidable, inescapable. God’s people bring God’s Word to bear on all they do wherever they are: sitting at home, walking along the road, lying down, and getting up. They behave in such a way that God’s Word is noticeably operating in their lives. In other words, Scripture impacts everything everywhere all the time.

In addition, Moses says, “impress [the commandments] on your children.” Notice that he doesn’t advocate force-feeding. He suggests showing them that God is relevant always. He suggests that parents—really, all adults—live such evidently God-influenced and God-controlled lives that their children (and all members of the younger generation, for that matter) become curious and ask why they live the way they do. Then parents can tell them and in so doing reveal the will of God to them.

I remember as I watched the people walk through the Jaffa Gate that the mezuzah-touching could be somewhat ritualistic and mechanical. We sometimes treat God’s Word that way too. My wife and I rarely touch the mezuzah on the doorframe leading into our living room. We noticed it there just the other day and reminded each other of what it meant. Let’s remind one another of the same truth—not by simply touching the doorpost, but by doing what the words in the mezuzah remind us to do: make God inescapable.

That is the heart of Reformed theology: the conviction that there is not a square inch of the universe over which Jesus does not shout, “I am Lord!” That is the mission of all true God-fearers. That is the mission of all parents. That is the mission of Christian schools. That is the mission of Calvin College: to allow God through us to touch every aspect of the world and life around us. It is not only permissible but mandatory.

There are some among us who believe that issues of ecology and conservation are of less importance than the proclamation of the gospel. The reality is that we’ve always said both are important before God. Now we must back up what we have said with how we will live.

In ancient Israel, no one was to enter or leave one’s house without confronting God and making it evident that all that went on there was a response of love to God. God’s people today are obligated to live the same way.

About the Author

Rev. Joel R. Boot is the executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

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Comments

Joel, interesting perspective.  Important to agree that God touches all of life, not just some of it.  But it is also important to have a reasonable hierarchy of priorities.  Ecology and conservation are certainly important, but they are not as important as the proclamation and acceptance of the gospel, both within the body of Christ, and within our neighborhoods and daily lives.  There are many non-christians who are very interested in ecology and conservation;  some of them have sort of made it their god, to conserve, or protect ecology.  And what good will it do us or them to gain the whole world, and lose our soul?   Ecology is in one sense no different than the rich grain harvest in the barns of the rich man, who thought he was set for the rest of his life, when God required his llife from him.  With the wrong priority, we could idolize it, and certainly some people do.   So it is essential to make the main thing the main thing, without reducing the significance of other things within that context. 

This is a fine article until the author proves he just can't resist the urge to take a poke at others by saying, "there are some among us who believe that the issues of ecology and conservation are of [more] importance than the proclamation of the gospel."

I and most CRCers believe all of the above are important to God and it's a bit silly to argue about which is/are most important to Him -- but yet that there are times, places and organizations to emphasize dealing with one (ecology), or the other (conservation), or the other (proclamation of the gospel), or even yet others (e.g., immigration bills in Congress, Farm/SNAP bills in Congress, global warming science, etc), to the relative exclusion of the other issues.

I don't want my institutional church to be a political lobby, or the political mouthpiece for me or other CRCNA members -- as our denominational structures are increasingly wanting to become.  I want my institutional church to focus on being an institutional church, which of course means it can't and shouldn't try to be everything else (like a political mouthpiece or lobbyist about ecology or conservation or global warming or immigration bills or Farm/SNAP bills, etc etc). But that doesn't at all put me in the category of the "some among us who believe that issues of ecology and conservation are of less importance than the proclamation of the gospel," and frankly, I consider it a bit outrageous that those who want their institutional church to constrain itself to being that are constantly accused of not caring about "all of life."

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