Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Decalogue

We often think of the Decalogue as a list of rules or regulations to restrict behavior. In legalistic circles this is exactly what they are and are often taken to extremes. Do's and don'ts, if you will. I was meditating today about the ten commandments and how much resistance to them there is from many directions. And ,you know, I am resistant to them as well as just a list of "what to do and not to do or else."

In our hyper individualistic western culture, we are highly sensitive to anyone telling us what to do or how to do it. We create our own truths based around our own experiences and are often self-centered. It is amazing what the law creates in us. It brings about rebellion. Paul speaks clearly about this over and over again in the epistles. Rebellion is the core of our nature.

When I read Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5, my immediate reaction is not positive due to my own rebellious and selfish nature.But as I look deeper, what I really see is relationship. Jesus said in Matthew 22 that love of God and love of your neighbor are the greatest commandments. He goes on to say that on these two rest the entire law and the prophets. The commandments are about RELATIONSHIP to God and to one another. When we think of others as more important than ourselves (Ephesians 2) and recognize God as our loving Maker (who "don't make no junk" if you know what I mean..) with the right and perfect nature to guide us, the commandments become a joy. Born out of love, motivated out of selflessness, we were given these words as a foundation to have a most blessed life.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grace and Truth

Do I want to be right or do I want to connect? Do I defend my position because know I am right or do I yield to anothers understanding because I want to build a bridge? Far too often I find most of us are on the font side of those questions. I certainly can feel strongly, be quite opinionated in many areas and certainly believe in truth, but as I move further along in life, as I walk longer with Christ, as He reveals more to me about Himself, what strikes me most is His brazen humility. As a matter of fact, there were many times He didn't respond or defend Himself. As the Source of all truth and wisdom, He certainly had the right to tell it like it is and "correct" those who He encountered, yet did not. What I see is Jesus stepping into the lives of others, making a connection in a grand display of humility.

James 3 says "The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits...." I often feel my christian family does not understand the Gospel and so the Name of God is blasphemed in the world. In our self-righteousness, we are so busy pointing out the sins of others, and correcting people we neglect to examine ourselves. This creates a breeding ground for arrogance and pride. We forget that we ALL, ALL have fallen short of God's perfection, we are ALL in the same boat and it is only the reconciliation Jesus bought for us that gets us out of that boat.

John tells us that Jesus is "full of grace (love) and truth (rightness)." Not just truth, not just rightness, not just facts, but also grace. We cannot have one without the other. When we learn to relate to others unlike us in an understanding manner, when we learn to empathize and to think of the other person as more important than ourselves, we connect. And an amazing thing happens. We are more likely to be heard because we have first listened. Truth, works, the law, is empty without grace.

1 Corinthians 13...every time I read this, I am so convicted and run to lean hard into Jesus:

"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."

What I want to know is how are you doing on that love thing?