Some five million viewers reportedly watched the new CBS situation-comedy “Living Biblically” this past week. But, as anticipated, the show presented a comedic mischaracterization of Christians, not a true Biblical life.
The show’s main character is trying to keep the Old Testament ceremonial and civil laws, with little apparent regard for their underlying moral law. The ceremonial law has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and the civil law has no nation of Israel to apply to, but the moral law does still apply. There may be comedic effect in the main character’s throwing a restaurant’s decorative stone at a man cheating on his wife, as the main character did in the pilot, but God’s command against adultery should not be so mocked (Galatians 6:7).
The Roman Catholic priest character on the show in the pilot did say that the main character could not perfectly keep those Old Testament ceremonial and civil laws, but he did not say that inability was because of original sin, for which original sin and all the resulting actual sins, the only sacrifice is the death of the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus alone lived the perfect life and with His death on the cross makes up for our failures to live perfect lives.
You and I are equally incapable of keeping God’s law and in need of the forgiveness of sins God freely offers through faith in Jesus Christ. We can receive that forgiveness through God’s Word read, preached, applied with water in Holy Baptism, with the touch of a hand in individual Holy Absolution, and with bread and wine that is Jesus’s Body and Blood in Holy Communion.
Such forgiveness does not clear the way for continued sinning (Romans 6:1-2,15), but such forgiveness does comfort consciences stricken by the law that makes us aware of our need for such forgiveness (for example, Romans 3:20). The true Biblical life consists not in such things as our wearing clothes of one kind of thread (Deuteronomy 22:11) but in daily repenting of our sin and receiving God’s forgiveness in the ways that He graciously offers it to us.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.