Living with Others on Life’s Big Playground

Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to the foreigner residing in any of your towns, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to any other foreigner. But you are a people holy to the Lord your God.Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. Deuteronomy 14:21 (NRSV)

One of the lessons I learned on the playeground was that not all kids were raised with the same standards and rules as were held fast at the Vander Well household. Certain words that were unacceptable in our house, were perfectly normal and common vocabulary for some families. What was expected behavior in my home was not expected behavior in friend’s homes. When I quizzed my parents about these discrepancies, I was informed that other families were free to choose their own standards. As a member of our household, however, we were expected to obey the commands of our home.

I was fascinated to come across this addendum in today’s chapter to the ancient rules God gave His Hebrew children. The rule was for His children, with the understanding that not everyone chose, or was chosen, to be God’s children. While God told His children not to eat roadkill, there was the understanding and acknowledgement that roadkill might be considered an acceptable feast for others. His children could give the roadkill away to neighbors or sell it to foreigners. The rule not to eat was between God and His children.
I observe that people in our culture are increasingly intolerant of any who disagree with their beliefs, choices, or the rules of life to which they ascribe. As I read through the news of the day I find ISIS terrorists, politically correct liberals, Christian right wingers, and adherents to any number of religious or political persuasions seem to be given to the same desire for everyone submit to their way of thinking, believing, and living.

I am reminded this morning that the world is a big playground and Jesus readily accepted that people would choose not to follow Him and His prescribed dictates for conducting our lives. In fact, Jesus was downright discouraging to certain individuals who said they wanted to do so. This is consistent with the roadkill rule in today’s chapter. If Father God is accepting of the fact that not everyone on the playground will follow our house rules and our way of thinking then shouldn’t I, as a child of His household, also be accepting of that reality? Loving and accepting those who live life by the same life rules and principles as I do is relatively easy. I tend to believe that the true mark of a Jesus follower is how well we love, accept and treat those who don’t.

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