On the first meeting of Girls on the Run, we develop our 10 rules for the season. The group decides how they will treat one another and what they expect from others. Some seasons it has gotten silly, like no swirlies. Coaches like to throw in our suggestion for no screaming armpits – no one likes a group of 10 girls with their hands in the air yelling Ooh Ooh Me Me I know I know. Every season, the girls agree they should stay positive, always do the best they can, never say I can’t, support one another and have fun. Throughout the season, we live by those 10 rules. Every community needs some boundaries to live by so we know how to treat one another.
When Moses gave Hebrew people the 10 Commandments, they were a group of people without boundaries. They were not yet Israelites, because they hadn’t established the nation. They were Hebrew people wandering around the wilderness in search of the promised land learning about what it meant to be a people in covenant with God. It was important that the people have rules for how they should relate to God and how they should relate to one another.
In Egypt, they were slaved oppressed by the Egyptian government. Everything about their life was governed by a foreign government. Wandering around the wilderness, they often complained that life was tough and it would be better to return to slavery than make the journey to the land of which promised to be full of milk and honey. To help them unite as a community, God gave them the 10 Commandments so they could form the boundaries of a society without the oppressive rule of a foreign government. When they entered the Promised Land, they would need rules to govern their lives and that started with the 10 Commandments.
The 10 Commandments are rules for living in community in covenant with God. Four commandments are about our relationship with God and 6 are about our relationship with one another. These were commandments for their context in the ancient world. I’d like to offer some suggestions for what the 10 Commandments might be for our modern context. So, I offer you the new 10 Commandments. I didn’t come up with these all by myself. I read some other commentators to come up with this list as a compilation of their thoughts. I pulled from different lists what I think would make a good 10 Commandments.
1) Do not put any other gods in place of me. This commandment assumes that you
will have a god. There is no doubt there will be something or someone you call your deity and worship it. All of us gathered here this morning have confessed faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. We have affirmed that we have one God revealed in Jesus Christ.
I propose #1 should be worship God. Not worship God when it’s convenient. Not worship God when you have nothing else to do. Not worship God, if you’re not tired on Sunday morning. Worship God regularly. If twice a month is regular for you, then come twice a month; if regular is every weekend, then come every weekend.
I know we all have things we want to do on the weekends. We’re done at 11 am almost every Sunday. That gives you about 8 more hours of daylight to do the other things you want to do on the weekend. You still have all afternoon to spend with family. You’ll miss from time to time for special events. That’s okay, but missing worship should not be a regular occurrence.
Worship is not about you. Coming to church is about worshipping God. I know we don’t all like every song we sing every week. I know I don’t hit a home run with the sermon every Sunday. I know we all come to get something out of worship. But, it’s not all about us. Worship is about paying God the honor due to Him and experiencing His presence. So, #1 is worship God.
2) Do not make idols of God. I suggest #2 is keep things in perspective. We can
easily become obsessed with things. I think we can lose perspective with our phones and tablets and social media. At one point, several years ago, my prayers seemed a lot like Facebook status updates and I was updating my status more than a few times a day. I took a break from Facebook for a week to get things in perspective. We can lose perspective with many things that become addictions. If you’ve become obsessed with something or someone, it’s time to take a break.
3) Do not take the Lord’s Name in vain. I say, think carefully about what you say
about God. Taking the Lord’s Name in vain is more than not cursing. Speaking the Lord’s Name in ancient Israel was to call God into your presence. The Hebrew people didn’t say the Name of God, so they used the word Adonai to refer to the Lord.
Throughout history, slave owners looked to the Bible for support of slavery. They fought fiercely to maintain the right to own slaves, based on Scriptures they thought supported them. They taught African slaves Christianity. Slave owners told them Jesus expected them to be good slaves because the Bible said so. Today, we know it is wrong to think we can own another person. We often forget that we invoked the Name of the Lord in our defense of slavery. Suggesting that God was in support of slavery was taking the Lord’s Name in vain. When you claim something is in God’s favor think about whether or not it is reconcilable with the faith we have in a God who is love, promotes peace, and wants justice for the disadvantaged.
4) Observe the Sabbath day can be better expressed as take time to rest. We as a
society tend to wear busyness as a badge of honor. We love to tell people how exhausted we are and how much stuff we do. Rest and let your children rest. You are setting an example for your kids and grandkids. If you are constantly running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you are teaching your kids and grandkids that it is okay to be crazy busy.
I was talking to a young mother the other day about her daughter wanting to do girl scouts and dance classes. She knew that she and her kids would be gone every night during the week running around after her activities. The mother said, “No. You can only do one activity.” The daughter doesn’t understand the rational of needing time to be a family; she only hears that she can’t do both activities. The mother wants to model for her kids that it is not okay to be too busy.
If you’re so busy all day that you fall asleep before your head hits the pillow, you don’t have time to worship God, gain perspective on life, spend quality time with your family, and reflect on your work. Or, if you lay awake all night thinking about all the things you did that day or need to do tomorrow then you didn’t relax enough before bed so that you could shut your mind off before hoping to sleep.
5) Honor your mother and father. The Hebrew people had the practice of leaving
elderly people for the wolves if they were slowing the group down. This commandment I think can be better summed up as respect your elders. I won’t spend anytime on this, because we’ve all been taught by our parents to respect our elders.
6) Do not murder. I suggest do more good than harm and heal those who have
been harmed. God made every human being in the Divine image. We should respect the dignity of every life and seek to do good for everyone in our community. Vicki posted some powerful pictures to her Facebook page this week depicting the ways we treat poorly and oppress the disadvantaged. God said through the prophet Micah that we are required to do justice. Throughout the Old Testament and in the actions and teachings of Jesus, we are shown that God expects those with advantage to help those disadvantaged. So, through the ministry of the church, we seek to help the disadvantaged and lost.
7) Do not commit adultery. I suspect that the Hebrew people didn’t have many other commitments than to their spouse. Today, we have many commitments. I suggest #7 should be honor your commitments. I’d like to share with you the story of a man I know.
He is a man that does not honor his commitments. He was engaged to a girl he met in high school. They had a daughter and he retained custody of her when they split up. Then, he got married to a woman and they had a son. They filed bankruptcy while they were married and again when they divorced. Now, he is engaged to a new girl. His daughter is living with her grandparents. He barely sees or talks to his children. He’s not paying his bills and changed his phone number to hide from creditors.
He never cheated on a woman he was engaged or married to; however, he was not faithful to the commitments he made to women, his children, or creditors. He is not honorable and does not live with integrity. We need to remain faithful to all the covenants we make.
I’m not going to say much about these last 3 or we won’t get done by 11 as I we usually do. Perhaps you can reflect on them this week. 8) Do not steal. I suggest give to the world more than you take. Live a life of generosity. 9) Do not give false witness. I suggest we honor the truth. I think we sometimes try to tell people what to think or why they are wrong rather than listening to what they have experienced and try to understand their perspective.
10) Do not long for your neighbor’s stuff. I’d sum this up as count your blessings, not your neighbors’ blessings. When we live a life of thanksgiving, all of the commandments are easy, because we give thanks to God for all that He has done for us and given us. With an attitude of gratitude, we honor our family, our time, and the dignity of others. With thanksgiving, we keep our hearts and minds bound to the grace through which we are saved and live.