Pastors Corner


I’ve been reading an interesting book lately called “The Year of Living Biblically.” Its a book by a man named A.J. Jacobs who spent the year of 2006 adhering as strictly and as literally as possible to the over 700 rules, codes, and guidelines found in the Bible. This means he followed the rules most people know are in the Bible (stuff from the 10 commandments like thou shalt not kill and thou shalt not steal). But it also means he sought to follow other, lesser known rules (though shalt not wear clothes made of two different materials, though shalt not plant more than one kind of seed in a field, men shall not cut the hair at the sides of their head or clip the edges of their beard, etc.). To understate A.J. Jacobs’ challenge: it was hard.

This book was originally suggested to me by a friend who doesn’t have the kindest view of organized religion, and so when I started reading it, I expected to feel antagonistic to A.J. Jacob’s summaries at the end. I incorrectly assumed he would summarize his biblical year as primarily negative. I assumed he would call the Bible an ancient book no longer relevant for modern living. I expected to argue and fight with him on every page. I was sorely mistaken.

Instead, I came away with a reverence for the way the Bible seeks to meticulously guide so much of our everyday lives (a conclusion A.J. Jacobs came to as well). For example, I was reminded that the Bible cares vehemently about what we put in our bodies. All. The. Time (there are over fifty dietary laws in the Bible, even laws that tell us what posture we should use when eating). I was surprised how often the Bible mandates prayer (not just once a week, three times a day at minimum, unless you level up with the Apostle Paul’s command to “pray unceasingly”). Christians tell the big stories of the Bible twice a year (Christmas and Easter), but the Bible actually tells us to monthly stop what we’re doing and celebrate festivals that tell stories of what God has done for us. The Bible calls us to do radically compassionate things like leave the corners of our fields unharvested so the poor can glean the excess for themselves and cancel the debts of those who owe us money every seven years (without reason, just cancel them). The Bible has commands that govern decisions on when to go to bed and when to rise, what kind of prayers to say upon sleeping and eating, how to greet strangers when they walk through our doors, and what parts of our income we can use for ourselves and what we must give to others. In short, the Bible has guidance for how to live almost every minute of every day (again, over 700 rules!). Why? Because the Bible sees every moment of every day as utterly sacred…an opportunity to meet God or miss him. An opportunity to be part of God’s activity in the world, or be ignorant of it. An opportunity to love our neighbors or neglect them. Perhaps the Bible’s rules could be summed with the simple phrase: God is active in this moment, wake up and participate!

It's been a fascinating read and I’m excited to go back to the Bible’s more archaic and lesser known laws with a new level of appreciation. I’m not sure I’m ready to give up the poly-cotton blends in my closet yet, but I’m at least considering it.