I am committed to a life provoking the invasion of The Coming Kingdom through: human service, ecstatic prayer, halakhic observation, community building, nurturing hope, and drawing down abiding faith...
The elder to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I but also all who have known the truth, and through the truth residing in us and which will be with us in the aeons. Grace, mercy, peace from God the Father and from Yeshua the Mashiach, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I was overjoyed that I found some of your children walking the truth, just as the commandment was received from the Father. --Yohanan Beta, 1:1-4,
It is astonishing how Rav Shaul sees the messianic community as a body with the Ruach completely active and accessible. He calls us all to live in that Ruach. To the Galatians, he says the following:
Yaakov’s short letter is loaded with instructions regarding proper speech. Yaakov reminds us that we oughtn’t swear by anything, but let “yes” and “no” suffice (). He instructs us to not judge others with our words (-12). He warns us to not speak as if we know our future (-16). Yaakov speaks eloquently about the power of speech and the difficulty people have in controlling their tongues. He explains that one's mouth shouldn’t be able to both speak praise of God and evil against people – this is deep hypocrisy (3:1-12). In the beginning of his letter, Yaakov speaks of the value of silence:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV)
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the L-rd Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (James 5:1-6)
For the authors of the ketuvim sh’lichim (Apostolic Writings), righteousness is tied up with the mitzvah of love. Love, for all its repetition in Scripture, is a concept connected to righteousness, which we must keep kindled in our hearts and minds. The prayer of Rav Shaul for the Philippians is paradigmatic:
Humility and timidity are not the same. Thankfully, it is more-or-less common knowledge now that humility is not about thinking poorly of oneself. Humility is often described in terms of awareness of one’s short-comings, and willingness to learn and grow from the influence and wisdom of others. In terms of a life worthy of the Kingdom, Rav Shaul gives an astonishing exhortation on humility in his letter to the Romans:
In a world where spirituality is characterized as being an inner reality, it is easy to fall into a state of disconnect with the externality of spiritual life. We can lose the sense of value of how we present ourselves to one another and God on a physical level. We mustn’t forget that there are many times when the externalities of life are used as metaphors for things that encompass all dimensions of existence. Cleanliness is particularly connected to holiness in TaNaKh and in the apostolic Writings.
Decisiveness means taking to heart what needs to be done enough to take the steps to accomplish it. It is not enough just to know what needs to be done; one must not tarry in the knowledge so long that action becomes superfluous or forgotten. This is Yaakov’s exhortation to us:
For Rav Shaul, “order” was a communal necessity. The gifted congregation in Corinth was instructed to conduct their meetings orderly (1 Cor 14:40). There is a very short phrase in Rav Shaul’s discourse on this matter that deserves particular intention:
“God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (1 Cor 14:33, NIV)