The only constant in life is change. In the spirit of this saying, I would posit that the love of God is the only other constant. The Bible teaches us that God and His love are never-changing and eternal, that there’s nothing we could do to change how He feels about us. Yet, many of us can get stuck in this rigid idea of traditionalism, but we tend to forget finer details. For example, many of us have probably neglected to research any translation errors that our respective editions of the Bible have been subjected to. Some of us also tend to forget that Jesus himself was a rebel. He saw that the laws at play were being abused and twisted to serve the agenda of the Pharisees and set out to end the practice.
The narrative of what following God means has been changed in the past, even by Himself. Remember that Leviticus, among many other things, demands that we not eat bacon and yet it may seem odd to some that Jesus never once states that absconding bacon is crucial to the faith. When a woman was brought before Him to be stoned to death (as Leviticus says to do with blasphemers as well), He all but says that only the sinless can cast judgement upon her. Leviticus was written for a different time that no longer applies to the context of today, especially when Jesus demonstrated throughout his existence as a human and beyond that love comes first.
But sometimes the law is changed for the worse. Those mistranslations I mentioned are real, intentional, and have persisted. It is important to remember God’s greatest law: love God and love others. So, when we come across a verse that seems to diminish a group of people, even if it’s consistent in our translations, it’s important that we believe beyond our traditionalism and do the research to discover if this was the truth or if the words were replaced.
Jesus always chose love over tradition. He chose twelve people no one else would have chosen to be His disciples. Now, the obvious difference between us and Jesus is that we are not God in human form and thus cannot instinctively know what He knew, be it another’s heart or a law that was maliciously misinterpreted. Yet, we are still called to be like Jesus, who acted with love in spite of what the law says. Jesus was not a traditionalist in His time, and neither were His disciples. Jesus changed the law to make room for love rather than a set of bylaws.
“He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’ The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’” (Acts 10:11-15, NRSV)
Nothing exists without context and nothing should be taken at its most literal, which is often the tradition of Christianity. Jesus died for our sins, making us all clean regardless of what the laws or the traditions we grew up with say, and to call others otherwise is insulting to God. To live like Jesus, we must love all our neighbors unconditionally the way we love God.