December 27, 2016

Luke 2:39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.

This seems like almost a throw-away line to advance the narrative, and actually it skips over not only the wise men but the escape into Egypt. However, it brings out an important point: Mary and Joseph didn’t think they were exempt from anything just because their Child was the Son of God. Today people come up with all sorts of reasons (they think) why they are special and don’t need to be bound by everyone else’ rules. We see that big time in politicians, but people lower down on the totem pole do it a lot as well. When it comes to human rules, some are indeed absurd and need to be changed or abolished, but the thing is, until they are, they are still rules for everyone. When it comes to the Law of the Lord, mentioned here, there is every reason for everyone to obey it, but we tend to look for work-arounds even there. It is true that some of the Levitical law was situation-based and therefore expired, and it is certainly true that Christ fulfilled all the Law and therefore completed it and superseded it with the law of grace, (Matthew 5:17, Romans 6:14-15) but such universal truths as the 10 Commandments are pretty evident. Even so, as human beings we search for “wiggle room,” even from the clearest rules. In contrast, Jesus said that even lustful thinking was a violation of the commandment against adultery. (Matthew 5:28) God’s rules always have good reasons, and they are always for our good. The very act of kicking against them makes them much harder on us. As John said, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

This is painfully applicable to me right now, because I am running full tilt into Japanese laws and regulations related to the purchase and use of the land next door. Because some of it is classified as agricultural land (though it hasn’t been used for that for at least decades, if not a century) it can’t even be sold to someone who isn’t a farmer without the classification being changed. That in turn requires approval of the new use, which in our case requires approval of our plans to build a group home. However, in Japan a “group home” is strictly for either mentally handicapped people or people with dementia, and we don’t want to limit our facility that way. That in turn raises other questions, and the list seems endless. I’ve made an appointment at the related prefectural office for tomorrow, but I certainly need to let go of my reactions/rebellion and let the Lord give me the guidance and wisdom I need. I’ve also got to remember that this is something the whole church is doing, not just me, as I was reminded a few minutes ago. All these rules are not without meaning, and going through all the steps is going to grow and polish not just me but this whole church. I am not to panic, much less throw in the towel, but rather take each step at a time, receiving and using God’s wisdom and strength, so that His will may be done on His schedule for His glory.

Father, thank You for all You are doing. Help me remember that You are doing it, and give You thanks and praise rather than resentment and rebellion. As You had me pray a few minutes ago, help me indeed seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness on every level, so that everything I need may be provided in Your way for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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