Going Deeper 03.03.2021

The first reading for Lent 3...  Exodus 20:1-17

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.  Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Familiar words... perhaps as broadly familiar as any section of the Bible.  Familiar, yet widely misunderstood.

Time to answer the question "WHY OBEY?" once again.  The truth is, some do not care about obeying these commandments at all, while others pick and choose those they think are relevant and those they judge as outdated.  On the other end of the spectrum are those who feel that these commandments were not only literally carved in stone, but also that they are rules everyone must obey if they want to avoid individual and corporate punishment meted out by a strict and easily angered God.

Of course, there are other motivations out there.  But here are three that are clear:

+ The most powerful motivators for obedience are gratitude and love.  These Commandments were given in the context of a covenant relationship between God and the people He had just dramatically and powerful rescued from abusive slavery in Egypt.  Obey because you love God and are grateful for His grace!

+ Given by a loving Creator, these Commandments guide us into living the best and most meaningful life possible.

+ When all people seek to live according to these Commandments, true community is restored, with people seeking to take care of one another and all of their important relationships.

When we see these Commandments as wisdom and as gifts, we can embrace them as a guide to the truly good life... not as a bunch of 'spoil-the-fun' rules.

With You in His Community,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"