10 Sep The Ten Commandments: Signposts to Freedom
That’s the title I’ve borrowed from Rev. Dr. Craig Barnes for our 11-week series on the Ten Commandments. When someone uses a word like “commandment” or “law” or “obey”, is freedom the most immediate response that jumps to mind? Usually not. The general impression when anyone in the church talks about commandments is, “Here we go again…..some preacher is going to wag her finger in my face telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing.” (Some folks are also thinking, “I can’t wait ‘til we get to ‘Thou Shall Not Murder.’ I may not do so well on the rest of them, but I know I’ve got that one nailed!”)
A big part of the problem is that we talk about the Ten Commandments without putting them in context. The Hebrew people were slaves. Life was a misery of toil and oppression. After generations of breaking backs and aching hearts, God intervened and rescued his people, liberating them from slavery. It was a dramatic and miraculous event, full of special effects that Hollywood can’t dream of matching. After crossing the Red Sea, Moses led the people to Mt. Sinai where they were to have a special encounter with God. It was during this encounter that God gave the Hebrews the Ten Commandments.
The order of these events is critical. First God freed the people (grace), then came the commandments (law). The law was never given to tell people how to “measure up” so God would accept them or love them. God’s love is unconditional—then and now. In love God freed the Hebrews and in love God offers us that same freedom, freedom from the worry, fear, anxiety, greed, addictions and self-sabotaging attitudes that keep us enslaved.
The law was (and is) given to tell us how to remain free. God’s love frees us to be our best and most authentic selves, i.e., to be fully human and to live fully alive. But, we settle for so much less. In our fear and anxiety we grasp at things that inevitably put us back in bondage. The Ten Commandments are a gift to show us that we can’t stay free on our own but only by walking with God day by day. It is a thrilling journey—not always easy, to be sure—but thrilling nonetheless. We’d be delighted if you’d like to walk the path with us.
Yours for the Kingdom,