Do Rules Oppress or Give Life?
Sunday we will hear the “Ten Commandments,” the quintessential statement of the law (click here to read the passage). In general, laws and rules have a bad reputation today. They are restrictive, repressive, and often just seen as leftovers from a bygone, and less enlightened, era.
So, what are we to think when we come to the Ten Commandments? Just another set of rules to be set aside for a more enlightened age? I pray it may not be so.
Certainly, there have been plenty of bad rules throughout history, and following them has led to great evil. But I think any honest reader of the Ten Commandments would be hard pressed to find anything that would be oppressive or destructive. On the contrary, these are life-giving and when put into practice build strong community. Imagine a community that actually lived by the Ten Commandments in all its dealings!
Beyond bringing life and community, the Ten Commandments express to us the very nature of God. “Honor your father and your mother” shows us that God values family as a central building block for individuals and society. “You shall not murder” affirms life as a gift of God to be treasured and protected. “You shall not commit adultery” because our God is a God who keeps covenant and wants us to do the same.
The people of Israel saw the law as a gift of God’s grace! Not because they loved law, but because the law gave them a picture of God, His nature, and His grace. As you listen to the Ten Commandments on Sunday, think of them not so much as rules to be broken or kept, but as a picture of what the Christian life looks like. And give thanks!
This column appeared in the March 4, 2018 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here to read the full issue.
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