Seven Wonders of the Word
“Thou shall not…” – Exodus 20 – a whole bunch of it.
Did you have anarchists back when you were in High School? We did, sort of, not really hard core, (com’on we lived in Stoughton, WI pretty white bread middle class not too much to get to cranky about) but they were there, and every once in a while they might even get around to making a fuss.
In fact in every generation has them, has always had them on some level. As I have watched this philosophy from a distance over the years I have come to a couple of conclusions. The first is they really don’t like rules. “Thou shall not”… does not fall melodically on their ears. The second is they tend to be young teenaged boys. Most of whom are at that point in their development where they are cutting the apron strings as it were of home life and parental control. Thirdly while anarchists claim they are about total freedom, um, that rarely is the case.
What often happens is that like a bunch of four year olds playing pretend games in the back yard, the rules are never fully erased, they are simply changed, often on the fly and most often for the kid who holds the most power be that physically, intellectually or by strength of personality. People tend to drift away from anarchy once they are put upon by someone bigger and stronger than them or their group. Once their wild freedom is crimped by someone else’s wild abandon, they tend go clambering for the safety of fair and just rules.
I have found that the Ten Commandments are less about “shall not” and more about opening up horizons I would never be able to see if I was constantly worried about losing my life, and all that I had. These rules given to a new nation of people who were out wondering in the wilderness gave them direction that they might live and grow as a nation and more importantly the people of God. But rules have their limitations; they can only get us so far in relationship to God because as the human mantra goes “rules are made to be broken!”
It is in Christ that the rules become less about “have to” and “cannot or shall not”, and more about “get to” and “possibilities.”
I like what the quote from Luther said. “This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed.”
We are on the way to becoming what we already are in our Baptism’s into Jesus Christ. Each day as we die to sin and rise in the new life of our baptismal promise we are freed to live our lives knowing that we are loved, we are saved, we are God’s very children.
Ever notice, that when you understand why a rule is made, why a command is given and you trust the source of that command, it often becomes a joyful challenge to live into the spirit as well as the letter of the law? Hmmm… interesting eh?
Blessings on your day and may you grow in God’s grace and peace.