In this week's lessons, we get the BIG TEN. No, not the conference, the Commandments.
I often think that people don't really believe in the Ten Commandments. They believe in the Four Commandments: Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not bear false witness. (I have to use the old-fashioned language, because isn't that how God spoke to Moses ... in Elizabethan English?)
Sometimes, we'll consider two others: Honor thy father and mother, and thou shalt not covet. We don't find those two quite as binding, because you know, our parents can be really irritating or seriously messed up. And coveting ... well, without coveting, we wouldn't have much of an economy. So we dance around those two.
And then we basically ignore the rest. Which I believe we do at our peril. I believe the commandments we tend to shelve for later consideration are the most important ones on the list. And perhaps we ignore them for that very reason. They are the harder ones to follow. And if we actually took them seriously, following them might change our lives.
You shall have no other Gods but me. (But that would mean displacing our selves, our children, our jobs, our football teams from their vaunted places in our souls ...)
You shall not make for yourself an idol. Not an idol of our politics? Or of our bank accounts? Or of our carefully constructed lifestyles? Or even of the Spartans?????
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord. And I don't think God means shouting out the name of his Son, using the middle initial "H." I think this refers to using God's name to justify our position ... on political issues, on issues of religion, on issues of ethics. When we say "God wants," we usually mean "WE want ..." but we want to cloak it in that sacred veil.
Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. God asks of us one uninterrupted 24 hour period a week. Seriously. One complete day to rest, to enjoy our families and friends, to worship, to read, to simply BE, to exist outside of human time and human economy and to exist on God's time, in God's economy.
As Paul would say, "God is not mocked." But how often do we mock God by picking and choosing our way through our covenant responsibilities? How hard is it for us to take those other commandments as seriously as we take the Big Four?