Well, I know that in Exodus they’re called the 10 Commandments but work with me on this!
I wonder how many of them are still relevant? Did they only apply in context? I mean, some would seem to be obvious “Don’t Lie”, for example. even “Don’t Kill” should probably be a given – but what of soldiers and other service personnel? It doesn’t say “don’t kill unjustly” it’s an outright negative!
Keeping the Sabbath holy .. when is the Sabbath? Muslims have Fridays as their holy day, Jews have Saturday and we (Christians) have Sundays so who is right? And, let’s face it, 3000 years ago, lost and wandering in the desert, the Israelites didn’t have too many other temptations, did they? No shops, cinemas, sporting events … Does keeping the Sabbath holy mean not doing anything else? Speaking with a friend yesterday he mentioned how many church folk went to his church on Sunday then, straight after the service, went to the Morrisons which is just next door. Are they keeping the Sabbath holy?
And as for “honour your mother and father” well, I’m sorry but there are plenty of children, young people and adults around whose parents deserve anything BUT honour.
The list goes on: commtting adultery, coveting your neighbours goods (and there’s a good one for context – so long as I don’t covet my neighbour’s house, servant, wife, ox or donkey, can I covet them if they live a couple of doors away? Who is your neighbour, exactly?)
but there is one which, whatever the context, remains a rule for us all and that’s the ‘you shall have no other gods before me’ commandment. Life, society has so many things and people that would like to be gods. Sports stars, musicians, politicians, fashion trends, money .. and there is nothing wrong in wanting to dress in the latest fashion, look like a superstar or elevate a hero to a pedestal – but the key phrase is “before me” – God wants us to remember that all that we have is because of him. God doesn’t object to us following fashion, or music, or sport or making a decent living for ourselves, he just wants us to remember where it all comes from.
And the Commandments weren’t just a rule for life, they were particularly about how a community, lost and wandering, should respond to each other in order to stay a community.
So, last night, rather than look at the ten commandments, the group of young people I was with made a list of promises. They were not things that they would NOT do (no ‘thou shalt not’s allowed); they were things that they promised they WOULD do – positive promises.
I’m telling you, it’s the way forward …