Post 61 / The Next Language
October 18, 2021
The Love Pyramid
As a team here in Mexico we daily study the life of Christ. We do it from the perspective of two online verse by verse expositors- The Narrow Path by Steve Gregg, and Word Online by Martin Charlesworth. I track and translate The Narrow Path and Nathaniel the same with the Word Online, a British production.
Currently we are in the Sermon on the Mount. We have finished the character description of the disciple by Jesus in the Beatitudes (a far cry by the way from the liberated, rights conscious, healthy self image most American Christians would embrace. Who really would want to be poor, mournful, humble, gentle, hungry/thirsty, ever seeking, suffering, merciful, peace making, pure, and persecuted? But of such is the unfolding of Jesus’ upside down kingdom.) and are currently studying a large section where Jesus explains the relationship of His kingdom to the Law. It occupies the larger portion of the chapter five of Matthew.
Jesus was very good at summarizing and reducing complexities to pure essence. His statement that “I did not come to destroy the law but to complete it” is a good example. [Mat 5:17 KJV] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
Later in Matt 23 He reduced the law to three weightier issues: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. [Mat 23:23 KJV] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
He also reduced the law again to one word – love. [Mat 22:37-40 KJV] Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The fact that Jesus immediately addressed the law in His manifesto of the Kingdom speaks to its importance and how we are to relate to it, and I think also how we are to express it to the cultures we are placed in.
So, here is how the love pyramid looks. On top is love. Appropriate if it is to reflect a God who is love. [1Jo 4:8, 16 KJV] He that loves not knoweth not God; for God is love. … And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Going down the pyramid we come to justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These define and amplify love. They also represent the heart and character of God.
Below the “weightier matters of the law” we have the moral code – the Ten Commandments – which translates love into practical relationships with God and our neighbor. I see this code as a minimum standard that was required of Jewish Kingdom dwellers. Jesus introduced the gold standard (and made provision for it through new birth and the indwelling Holy Spirit). His gold standard (which the Old Testament law always pointed toward) was [Mat 5:48 KJV] Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Exactly how the law plays out in the new kingdom is illustrated in six ways that each hark back to the law by saying, “ye have heard.” Or “it is written.” These six illustrations are exactly that – samples – not intended to create a new level of minutia and a new level of legalism. The heart and spirit of the Law are exposed to help us know what is the loving thing to do in all circumstances.
You may ask how that love pyramid plays out as we enter a traditional village for the very first time, with no contacts, unannounced?
It is different each time but normally we will go to those responsible for the law. Every village we have come to here in Mexico has an elected representative- sometimes called a Governor, Agent, or President. We learned early on that when we asked about matters of culture and language, public order, and religion, we would be directed to this leader. Just recently we met some Ixcatepe working on a road to their village. We helped push a vehicle out of the mud and then asked if there were any elderly people that could help us by recording 32 words. Very shortly we were directed to the President.
In the case of the Zapoteco: Guelavia San Martin Tilcajete, we arrived at the end of the bus route and hired a three wheeled Trapo Moto to take us through the rainstorm to the village. It was Sunday so we knew there would be no officials in the agency, so on a whim I asked the driver to take us to the home of a believer.
What a blessing that was. We met Javier – a recently converted Tilcajete native who was glad to talk to us. The language turned out to be two or three generations gone but with this believer we could share the language of love. At the end of our time he took us in his pickup to the nearest major bus stop. On the way he told us his inspiring story of conversion from a selfish, drug-saturated existence to a personal encounter with Jesus. He now associates with several youth groups in the area and offered to chauffer us in the future if we needed to check out other languages. Our pescadore-in-training coworker, the Mixtepeco-speaking Aracelli, said afterward that she was very challenged by Javier’s testimony and feels it provoked her to walk more intimately with the Lord.
Thus, as often is the case, doing the loving thing returned personal blessing back to us. I pray that dwelling on “justice, mercy and faithfulness” will not only help you to understand God better but will temper the quality of love you express to those around you.
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA
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