The Lord your God you shall follow, him alone you shall fear, his commandments you shall keep, his voice you shall obey, him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast.
Deuteronomy 13:4 (NRSV)
When I was a child I lived in an area of town in which many young families were raising their children. There were kids everywhere. Most of the kids in the neighborhood were pretty cool, but on occasion there were kids my mom demanded that I stay away from. Anyone who knows my mom knows what a sweet, loving and accepting lady she is. So, when mom told me that I was not to hang out with a kid, not play neighborhood games if he was involved, and certainly not to go into his house if invited, then there was certainly something up.
I can remember being regularly confused by this in the moment. I didn’t get why mom had turned into such a meanie or why she had suddenly laid down the gauntlet of forbidden friendship. With my mom, however, this was a rare occurrence, and the forbidden friend was almost always someone I didn’t really want to hang with anyway so it turned out not to be a big deal.
When I finally got to be an adult and a parent of young children, I finally got where my mom was coming from, and was thankful for drawing strong boundaries for me when it was necessary. Sometimes your Spidey sense (as Wendy likes to put it) goes off and you know in your gut that whatever is going on with your kid’s friend is not a good thing. When your kid hangs out with that kid, then your kid’s attitude and behavior transforms into something from the dark side when they get home. Danger Will Robinson!
Today’s chapter is one of those difficult ancient texts that is difficult for a 21st century modern American to fully understand. When I thought about it from the perspective of God as parent, and the Hebrews like children in a new neighborhood, I think I can begin to get an idea for what motivated the commands. When you consider that the local pagan religions of that time were into all sorts of dark things like sacrificing children, it starts to make even more sense.
I’m thankful this morning for parents who were appropriately cautious with me as a kid and who had my best interest at heart. I’m thankful for my children who have learned along their own life journeys the importance of choosing good companions for the sojourn. I’m thankful that God desires the same for me.
featured photo: anderspee via Flickr