“Bear” with Me for a Moment
A little over a week ago, we spotted them about 50 yards away; a mama black bear and three yearlings. We kept at a safe distance to admire their beauty. Then we observed a couple approach them with their phone light on, obviously recording. Yikes! They were about 10 yards away from the cubs and showed no deference to the mama, who could tear them up if they got too close.
There is a cautionary tale found in 2 Kings 2:23-25 in which the truth speaker, Elisha, heads to Bethel to confront the city’s idolatry. Forty-two youths arrive and torment Elisha on the way into town, calling him a “bald head” and telling him to “go up,” likely pointing to Elijah, who was carried into heaven. This epithet is an insult against the elder and prophet of God, but it is also an insult against the LORD. Elisha turns and curses them in the name of YaHWeH, and two she-bears appear and maul the boys. Note: Yes, I do love this story as it has a bald truth-teller and the number 42 prominently featured!
The core of Israel’s faith is the covenant with YaHWeH, which requires love and reverence for him and love and honor toward neighbor. Keep these commands, and you will experience shalom, but break the covenant, and God’s protection is lifted. Thus a relationship with “42” is both beautiful and precarious. This story has idolatry and abuse of another, and creation is allowed to turn upon creation as the Creator lifted his protection.
Having a relationship with and serving the Author of Life, the Universe, and Everything can be beautiful and precarious. Sometimes followers become too comfortable and casual with the LORD, leading to a hazardous space where the follower believes they completely know God leading to spiritual arrogance. Other times disciples are too distant and begin to lose sight of and neglecting him, turning to false gods. There always needs to be a balance of reverence and comfort. After all, he is the Creator, and we are not.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31