I have been taking classes for Jewish conversion. Our latest assignment is to write a paragraph describing what we think God wants from us, and another paragraph describing how this impacts how I live my life.
Here is what I have written so far:
What does God want from us? My best answer is based on the words of Yeshua from Nazareth, understood in a rigorously Jewish, non-idolatrous way: 1) Lovingly respect God with the entirety of one’s being — that is, pursue God’s infinitude with all our thinking/judging/doing humanity; 2) lovingly respect one’s neighbor as oneself; and 3) regard the loving respect of God and the loving respect of neighbor as practically identical, which means recognizing that most of our relationship with God transpires through our associations with our fellow humans. If we work to find mutual understanding and loving respect with our neighbors, taking seriously not only their agreeable aspects, but also those aspects which confuse us, offend us and expose us to anxiety, this effort deepens our relationship with God.
How does this impact my life? 1) It means my faith always points me beyond what I currently understand, feel and believe and past how I already live. (While my faith produces beliefs, actions and moral responses, and these are the only perceptible evidence of my faith, faith is not itself a sum of these things and must not be reduced to them, or faith loses its transcendent thrust.) 2) It means I have to be careful with how I interpret and respond to conflict and discomfort, because conflict can often be an opportunity to deepen my understanding and my active relationship with God and God’s creation (including other people). 3) But it also means being careful to maintain myself as a person capable of loving and respecting and acting. Maximum altruism is not automatically the right thing to do in every case. 4) No ethical formulas guarantee moral action. Every particular moment requires attention, listening, thought, judgment, struggle and response.