As Simple As Ringing A Bell

Martina Maturana is a hero. You may not recognize her name and you may never hear about her again, but the 12 year old girl is definitely a hero.

When the 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Chile last week, thousands of people were left homeless. But off the coast of Chile, on nearby islands like Robinson Crusoe Island, the people faced a different danger.

Minutes following the earthquake, Martina stood on the second floor of her home. Here’s how she explained it to CNN news:

“At first I didn’t want to look out the window to see what happened. When I did, I saw big waves getting close. I yelled at my dad. He grabbed my little sister and we left the house. He told me “Go! Go! And I went to ring the bell.”

By ringing the bell, Martina alerted neighbors about the incoming tsunami. By the time the waves had subsided, Martina saved the lives of hundreds of neighbors who lived in the low-lying areas of Robinson Crusoe Island.

Did you know that ringing a bell can be an act of worship?

Join me in today’s reading and learn how!

To see the CNN interview with Martina, click here.

TODAY’S READING

Numbers 4:1-5:31
Mark 12:18-37
Psalm 48:1-14
Proverbs 10:26

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Numbers 4. Some scholars believe the use of the color blue in verses 4-13 was intended to remind the priests of heaven.

Numbers 5:11-31. God issued some very stern commands regarding extramarital sex. In previous readings we learned that God prohibited temple prostitution, which was quite common at the time. In this passage, we read about the consequences of adultery. Throughout Exodus, Leviticus, and now Numbers, we see that God seeks to protect the family. In any culture, the family is the bedrock of society. As the family crumbles or flourishes, so goes the nation. For this reason, God provided some very severe deterrents.

Similarly, the sexual relationship between a wife and husband points to the much deeper relationship between Christ and his church. The apostle Paul wrote:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

The bottom line is this: marriage is not an afterthought. At a minimum, God sanctioned marriage as a means of holding society together—and at its pinnacle, it points us to the day when we will be reunited with Christ in heaven.

Mark 12:18-37. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, which explains why they brought up this “trick” question to Jesus. To argue their point, they called upon the custom of levirate marriage, which Moses addressed in Deuteronomy 25:5-6. The purpose of giving a widow to her deceased husband’s brother was to ensure that she and her children had the means to live. Remember, welfare didn’t exist at that time. The Sadducees were trying to disprove the validity of the resurrection—by asking, “Who would be the woman’s husband at the resurrection?”

Jesus, however, turned the argument around by punching holes in their question—which bears great relevance today.

At the resurrection, Jesus said, no one is married. To explain: marriage is one of numerous covenants mentioned in Scripture—although mentioned in negative terms, Malachi 2:14 is one example. As is true of all covenants, they last only as long as the parties involved are alive. Once one of the parties dies, the covenant is rendered obsolete.
For this reason, marriage lasts only as long as the husband and wife are alive. Romantic songs extolling love—or marriage—that lasts forever are sadly misguided. In heaven, the only person we’ll be attached to forever is Jesus—because we’re the bride of Christ.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

Today’s reading from Numbers and Mark reinforces one of my most deeply held beliefs, which also operates as a core belief of the church I co-pastor.

In Numbers 5:6, God told Moses, “When a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord, that person is guilty and must confess the sin he has committed.”

Did you see it? When we sin against someone, we’re being unfaithful to God. This brings me back to Jesus’ words in Mark 12—which we read today as well. A teacher of the law asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus answered the man’s request for the most important commandment by giving him two: Our vertical relationships intersect with our horizontal relationships.

The way I love my wife is the way I love God…

The way I love my kids is the way I love God…

The way I love my neighbor who gets on my nerves is the way I love God…

The way I love my arrogant boss  is the way I love God (I’m speaking metaphorically—so please resist the temptation of reading between the lines)…

The list goes on and on.

For this reason, my co-pastor Eugene Scott and I constantly tell our congregation that relationships are sacred.

But we can also flip this over and restate this in positive terms:

The way to love God is to love my wife…

The way to love God is to love my kids…

The way to love God is to love my neighbor who gets on my nerves…

The way to love God is to love my arrogant boss…

This brings us back to yesterday’s post. God wants to be at the center of our lives. And one of the best ways to place him at the center is to love the people around us—because he loves them, too.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What does Scripture’s emphasis on the importance of marital fidelity tell us about God? What does it tell you about God?
  3. How could ringing a bell–like Martina Maturana did–be an act of worship?
  4. Why do you think God equates loving our neighbor with loving him?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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1 Comment

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One response to “As Simple As Ringing A Bell

  1. It seems there are often two or more layers of meaning to what God is doing with and communicating to us. I don’t mean that we can get what ever we want out of a passage, but there is usually something else for us just below the surface.

    In the Mark passage Jesus shows that there is a resurrection by shifting the focus to an underlying meaning in the saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

    Jesus’ argument comes from the verb “I am.” God does not say He “was” the God of the forefathers but still is and therefore they must–in some way we cannot yet see–be still living.

    So, is there another layer of meaning we can find in many of these strange worship and community instructions in Leviticus? The Kohathites are asked to care for and carry the elements of the Tent of Meeting. The surface idea is “somebody has to do it.”

    But is it also true that by having a job to do that helps the Israelites remain a worshiping community, the Kohathites then are better able to connect worship and service of God with their daily lives? God and worship become less segmented to them.

    Is that part of the problem we have today? Few of us understand that God has holy and crucial roles for each of us to play in the formation and continuation of our worship communities. We feel–and are–disconnected from God in our daily lives because what we do in worship is not much connected to what we do Monday through Saturday. And in that our faith loses some of its life.

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