Time spent in the Old Testament reveals the God of grace and love also found in the New Testament.
The commandments are law; they are laws of love that help us to be in community.
In order to be community, we need rules. Without rules there is chaos, and people get hurt. To be sure,
people get hurt even with rules, but usually that’s because we ignore the rules or we disagree about
them or we don’t like someone else’s interpretation of them. (Please, wear your face mask.)
God’s beloved children keep making a mess out of ten broad rules. These rules boil down to Jesus’ even
more inclusive two… Tablet 1: Love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. How? By loving
God above all gods, by not worshiping idols, by not taking the Lord’s name in vain, and by honoring the
Sabbath. Tablet 2: Love your neighbor as yourself. How? Honor your elders. Don’t murder, commit
adultery, steal, lie, or covet. The Ten Commandments, with their intimidating weight,
are just these two commandments in more detail.
The foundation of who we are is our obedience to and love of God. Once that relationship is in place, it
is time to turn to our relationship with those around us. How do we sustain life in community?
Every community has rules. What are the rules in your family? Not many of them are written
down. Thou shalt eat what’s put in front of you. Thou shalt not interrupt Grandpa,
no matter how many times you’ve heard the story.
The Israelites had far more rules than the Ten Commandments. They needed them to keep a tight,
healthy, long-lasting community. A faith community’s rules are based on context,
and sometimes they need to shift when the context changes.
We are all living in a time of contextual change right now. I’ve lost count of how many unwritten rules
for our community of faith will be different if and when we get together in person again. Keeping the
faith is adjusting our rules to the health and vigor of the community,
and by community I mean the church.
It feels like everything has changed—and yet the most important things have not.
Stick with the top ten, and then go from there.
We worship together as communities of faith not because we are perfect at the rules but because we
hold onto the faithful knowledge that God’s grace and love are what unite us—not the rules. We are
going to disagree. We are going to disappoint. We are going to break the rules.
So we hold one another up, we unite in our love for God and in God’s returned love for us, and we
remain church in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Love God—no other gods, no idols. Don’t take the
Lord’s name in vain, and remember the Sabbath. Love your neighbor—consider them as yourself.
It’s that simple.