Deuteronomy 21:18, ” 18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.”
There are countless laws in the Old Testament that Christians do not follow. Quite a few of them, even Jews do not put into practice. Yet, there they are, in our holy books, the very word of God. Why is this? Mostly, it’s the result of the meeting of man’s law and God’s law. Some of it is the understanding of the subtle differences between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. Is it faithlessness to fail to carry out every single command in the good book? Certainly not! We know that the status of our faith does not depend upon our works. Taking every rebellious son to the “Welcome to Small town” sign and stoning him would not prove our faith any more than being patient and forgiving with him.
Much of our understanding of the Law as written in the Old Testament comes from our New Testament understanding of the role of Jesus Christ. When he died on the cross, he paid the price for our inclination to disobey the law. He died for each and every rebellious son and daughter so that those who believe in him could escape their own punishment. In this way, we learn that the purpose of the law was not to help us stay on our best behavior, but to help us recognize that the bar was set much too high. There is no way by following the law completely could we ever earn ourselves a home in heaven.
That is the essence of our faith. Even the very worst Christian, one who truly believed in God when he was a kid – but since then has been doing more partying than praying, will still go to heaven. The very best Christian, who prays regularly and gives to the poor, will go to heaven all the same. Unfortunately, some people are not content with that fact. They have made it more important to be busy than to trust God’s promises. They emphasize works in the hopes of getting a bigger or better reward in heaven, as if being there isn’t reward enough. Doing that, they cheapen the price of Jesus’ blood, as if it could only forgive 60% of the way and you had to earn the other 40%. When Jesus died, his blood covered over every sin, every wrong word, every wrong thought, and every wrong action for all people of all faiths all over the world. Then he was resurrected, guaranteeing those who believe in Him a home in heaven with the gift of the Holy Spirit. No matter how good or bad of a Christian I am, no matter how many or few works I do in His name, no matter how much or little I know the Bible, I am going to heaven where I will live forever with God.
That is why Christians don’t stone their sons, put fortune-tellers to death, cut off people’s fingers or hands, or force people out of their communities. We’ve got more than enough grace to go around, and we’re willing to share.