the 10 commandments

Category : Exodus, God, Matthew, taking action

  

Sometimes I find myself thinking about the 10 commandments.  

They are such a part of of western society that sometimes we don’t even notice the influence they have.  Almost everyone agrees that the “big” one’s are a good idea:  don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t give false testimony.  Other commandments are not always as popular, but most people still think it’s not a good idea to cheat on your spouse, or lust after the things another person has. 

But there’s one commandment that always seems to stand out: “remember the Sabbath.” (Exodus 20:8).  Doesn’t it seem like a weird thing to add to such a short list?  I mean it is a top 10 list.  Shouldn’t there be something, I don’t know, more important in that spot?

And yet, that simple commandment was so important that God included it right before he talked about how we shouldn’t murder or cheat.  I have to think there’s a link there.  I have to believe that God knows when we don’t have the right priorities only bad things can happen.

Out of all the commandments this is the one I break most often.  And for those of you about to dial 911, don’t worry I’ve never killed anyone or stolen anything.  But I have been furious with people, and according to Jesus that’s enough (Matthew 5:21-22).

So the question becomes, why? 

Why do I feel free to break this one?  Is it because the other commandments seem so obviously important?  Is it because maybe I think I’m a little too good to need special time with God?

I’m not sure I have an answer.  But I do know that if God thought this was important enough to be included in such a short list, then I need to rearrange the priorities in my life.  I need to make sure I’m making time to build that relationship with God.

 

theology vs relationship?

1

Category : God, faith, trust

   

Sometimes I get so worked up about the right theology I forget about being real and honest with God. I forget about having a relationship with him. It’s in these moments where I spend all my time looking for the right words, instead of just talking to God.

So why do I do this?

I don’t think it’s because I’m trying to impress someone. The times I feel the most pressure to be “theologically correct” are usually when I’m praying. No one can hear those thoughts. But I worry that God may be upset, or more accurately, disappointed.

I worry that God may be ignoring me because I don’t know the magic words to get his attention. Sadly this is so far from who God is. God isn’t looking for magic words; he’s looking for a relationship.

Fundamentally faith is about putting things into action, not about what you know. Having sound theology is important – the more you know about someone, the stronger that relationship. But if you’re waiting until you have perfect theology, or you get your thoughts exactly right before turning to God, you’re hoping in something that will never happen.

Sometimes we just have to trust that God knows what we mean. And believe that he wants to be a part of our lives. We have to give up the idea of having control over God’s actions, and trust that we can just talk to him.

why relationships matter

Category : faith, trust

          

All I have to do is look at my own life to realize it’s no wonder why people react so harshly to the word “Christian.”  To be honest it’s been a bit humbling thinking about all the times I’ve screwed up.  Sometimes in our enthusiasm to talk about God we do it in pretty heavy handed ways.  And sometimes those hands come with steel gloves…  

And frankly, I’d probably respond that way too if I felt someone was judging me unfairly.  It’s hard to build trust with someone when they are already suspicious of your motives.  It’s hard for them to let their guard down when they expect to be attacked at any moment. 

This presents a serious problem, because the message we need to deliver can be hard to accept.  Especially in a world of hyper-rationalism.  Things like gods, angels, and demons seem irrational.  So how can Christians claim these exist, let alone knowledge of a one true God?  Even claiming that is enough to put many people on edge. 

And can you blame them?  It’s hard to believe in those things.  It’s hard to buy into things we can’t always prove with 100% certainty. 

That’s why relationships are so important.  Relationships build trust.  Or perhaps I should say – if you don’t trust someone how do you know they aren’t a crack pot?

For example: who am I more likely to believe?  A person I’ve known for years, someone I know is sane, telling me they believe in angels?  Or a random person off the street talking about being demon-possessed?

I’ll save you a guess, it’s not even a close contest! 

Of course according to Christianity, they may both be right.  But I have a hard time believing the person I don’t know.  I have no context in which to evaluate his (or her) outrageous claims.  And I think when you make outrageous claims you’d better be able to back that up.  I also have no reason to spend time evaluating their claim.  They are just one more lunatic on a street corner.

Relationships force us to evaluate radical ideas more closely because we have something invested. 

It’s no different with our behavior.  When we talk about how loving, generous, and forgiving God is, and then turn around and attack people because of their lifestyle, why should they believe us?  What possible motivation would they have for trusting us?

There’s a reason that Jesus got under the skin of the religious elite, but was loved by “sinners.”  I think maybe we should be a little more like that, and a little less unChristian. 

working at faith

3

Category : God, faith

   

I am beginning to realize that faith involves a lot of work.  I used to think that becoming a Christian was the hard part, that once I worked through my doubts it would be smooth sailing.  But it’s not.  And in some ways it’s harder.

When I first became a Christian there was the excitement of understanding.  The excitement of it all being new.  Every day brought some astonishing realization.  But eventually the newness wears off.

This, I think, is a dangerous time for Christians.  We can so easily lapse into bad habits.  Excitement can be replaced by staleness.  Joy replaced by repetition and habits.  We can fall away from God, just because it’s easier than staying close.

Maintaining your faith takes a lot of work, and unfortunately a fair amount of the D-word, “discipline.”  We need to craft new habits of reading our Bibles, praying, going to church, and whatever else you may need to stay focused on God.

It’s hard to do this on days we’re busy or tired.  Trust me, I know.  There are many days (like today) I don’t feel like studying or praying.  Sometimes I even want God to leave me alone.  But I fight against those urges.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last few years it is this: God is the only place we can really find meaning and worth.  

Maintaining any relationship, even one with God, is hard work. But it is always worth it.