How hard do we really try?

Good morning everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Personal Responsibility”
Our Bible verse for today: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “How hard do we really try?
A couple of months ago my brother sent me a book as a gift. The title is “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.” It was written by A.J. Jacobs. A.J. is not a Christian, he’s a secular Jew. In other words, he’s Jewish by heritage but he doesn’t practice the faith. He makes his living as a writer for Esquire Magazine and he’s also the author of couple of quirky but funny books. Oh, and he’s obsessive /compulsive to a high degree (hold that thought).
The idea behind A.J.’s book is that he decided he would spend an entire year attempting to follow the Bible as literally as possible. And I do mean literally. He began in Genesis, found every command and instruction in the entire Bible, and then he tried to follow it as best he could. He let his hair and beard grow untrimmed for a year. He wore white robes and sandals. He carried a ten-string harp everywhere he went. He observed the dietary laws of Leviticus, tithed, burned incense, stoned adulterers (this was funny), and much more. He did it all, for a year, while living in New York City, in a small apartment with his wife and toddler son, and taking the bus and subway to work every day at Esquire Magazine.
Remember, A.J. is obsessive/compulsive. He pays excruciating attention to detail – excessively so, and that’s the focus he brought to his year of living Biblically. He’s also a clever and funny writer and so his daily descriptions of his adventures are often hilarious. Probably the funniest involved the Levitical laws regarding menstruating women. In the Old Testament, menstruating women are considered impure. Therefore, they’re required to quarantine themselves for the duration of their monthly cycle. Additionally, any chair they sit in during this time is also impure and cannot be sat in by anyone else.
A.J.’s wife Julie is quite a character too and although she sort-of went along with his Bible project, she messed with him a lot too – just for fun, and this stuff about menstruating women was one step too far for her.
One day, when A.J. came home from a long day at work, he fell into his favorite chair. After a moment Julie said, “I started my period today, and I sat in that chair.” A.J. immediately jumped up and moved to another chair. Julie then said, “I sat in that one too.” Again, he popped up, snapped at her in frustration, and moved to another chair. She waited a moment and said, “That one too.” It turned out that before A.J. came home Julie intentionally sat in every chair in the house, making them all impure, and leaving him no chair he could sit in. The entire book is like that – one episode after another of A.J.’s quest to live as Biblically as possible, and much of it is very funny.
Our daily devotional today is less serious than most of the others, and yet there’s an important point for us to consider: “How hard to we really try to live Biblically?” A.J.’s year-long quest was extreme, and done for the wrong reasons (a book contract), and yet, he was on to something.
As the people of God, we’re called to conform less to the patterns and habits of the world (Romans 12:2), and more to the guidelines for living God has given us in the Bible. But how hard do we try to do that? How much effort do we really put in to it?
We’ll come back to A.J.’s story tomorrow and think about this a little more.
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2022 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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