Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Ten Commandments

Whenever I encounter the Ten Commandments, my mind returns to all the negative responses I've heard throughout the years. Do you recognize any of these?

The Ten Commandments are Old Testament & no longer valid.
The Ten Commandments are old fashioned.
Jesus did away with the Law & there's only grace now.
The Ten Commandments were given only to the Jews.
Jesus said there are only 2 Commandments now: Love God & love your neighbor as your self.
I don't follow the myriad of other Commandments (mixing fabrics, stoning people for their differences and/or "sins", etc.), so why should I need to follow these TEN?

We learned about the Ten Commandments in Sunday school via songs and flannelgraph stories. For most of my life, I never saw them as anything I needed to be concerned with personally... not really. I mean, coveting my neighbor's ox was the furthest thing from my mind when I was 8. As I got older, I was taught that Jesus did away with the requirements of the Old Testament, so there's no condemnation even if I DO happen to break one of the Commandments. Everything is love & grace now and by golly, that seemed just fine with me. I don't remember hearing much about the Commandments as an adult... until I became a Catholic.

What's that supposed to mean? It's not a derogatory statement, I assure you. Its just that when I became a Catholic, I began to see the Ten Commandments more often, especially in relation to something called the Examination of Conscience (sort of a pre-confession checklist).

Anyway, lately the daily Mass readings have touched on the exodus and the promulgation of the Commandments. They've also reminded us of Jesus' encounters with potential disciples, the Pharisees' angst & the meaning of true observance of the law (See Exodus 20 & Matthew 5).

I'm neither interested nor qualified to try & instigate a discussion concerning law v.s. grace, old & new covenants or any of that. All I know is that Jesus said He came to FULFILL the law, not to abolish it. To me, that means the law wasn't negated & it didn't go away. Apparently, something was missing from the old law, so Jesus completed what was lacking. He balanced out the scales of God's righteous judgement with God's forgiveness & grace.

Can you see how Jesus' life, death, resurrection and the Ten Commandments are two halves that fit together to make a whole? Try having a relationship with Jesus when you've broken even just one commandment. Ever notice how things get a little strained? If I break any one or all of the Ten Commandments, it becomes clear that I'm acting contrary to the Law of God. When I act contrary to the Law of God, the love and grace of Christ can't really abide in or flow through me effectively. The Law of God searches my heart, tests me & knows me intimately. But now that the Law has found its fulfillment in Jesus, broken Commandments are no longer a death sentence. They become a litmus test for the state of my soul. When I truthfully consider how I consciously reflect or reject the Ten Commandments in everyday life, something in me has to change. While God's judgement still seeks to kill the sin within me, His forgiveness & grace  make new life available through the sacrifice of Christ

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

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