"You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.
You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest your incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19. Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 263, Saturday, Easter 4.
This reading came up this morning. What rings in my ear is the "I am the LORD".
This first commandment is the key to everything. Do we have a Lord whose word is the light on our path? Do we have a Lord to whom our conduct matters? Do we have a Lord that cares about my neighbor? Do we have a Lord who hears and sees everything and loves justice and truth? Do I have a Lord who wants me to love my neighbor as I love myself?
Just as I am supposed to speak frankly and sort things out so that there are no grudges, the same way we need to sort things out with the Lord and with our conscience. And where there has been offense, it needs to be put right and out of the way so that the relationship can flourish. This is the good news. Offense abounds, but it can be put away.
Sometimes we go through life and we think all this talk of God is so ridiculous. Some will even tell us it is gauche to talk about God, even though he is central to our reconciled relationships. We cannot see him, though we are told that he hears and sees everything. Is it just a ploy to keep us morally on the straight and narrow (if that were possible)?
Sometimes others and I, myself, can talk myself into thinking this way. We could just live doing our work, doing the best for our family, enjoying what we can. -- But it never takes me long for the nihilism to completely overwhelm me. It feels like worm eating from the inside out. When the inside is hollow the outside becomes sterile. When the inside is rotten, empty, bland, there remains only a shell of life. No matter how beautiful the birdsong or the sunrise, etc. all the things that can uplift us; they grow stale.
I only feel like a person in relation to this unseen God.