October 26, 2016
This week's reflection brought to you by Ephesians 6:9 and StopBullying.gov.
Man, we really love the Ten Commandments don't we? It's one of those parts of Christianity that seems like it was made for media; in an age of sound bytes and buzzfeed, what could be better than boiling down our predominant western worldview into 10 easy-to-follow steps?
The commandments have been portrayed (and often appropriated...poorly) in hundreds of ways; they capture the modern mind and, lest we think we're so different/special, the not-so-modern mind like few other scriptural messages. And it's not without reason! Think of the gift it was for God to have taken the hundreds of laws followed by the Jews (see: all of Leviticus) into ten reasonable commandments. The very words of God were inscribed in stone, thus durable, not subject to translation or the "telephone effect" when passed from generation to generation, and portable during the exile of the Israelites. All very human concerns that God took into account. The commandments were a gift.
In today's first reading, Paul gives us the B-side to a commandment that will soon become my favorite: Honor your father and mother. He adds, "This is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth." Paul goes on, acknowledging that our God is a just God who considers both sides, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord."
I can tell you that far too often lately, I've spent way too much time asking God questions about his laws without praising Him for His promises. "Why do I have to live this way to be in your favor, Lord? Why do I keep screwing it up? Are you laughing at me, or at least allowing others to laugh at me while I try and fail to live a life worthy of my inheritance?"
Brothers and sisters, I'll say this plainly because I need to hear it plainly: He is trying to make things easier for us. Always. "Easier" often doesn't feel like the kind of easier we want, but that's because we don't have eternity in mind, not in the way He does.
Tonight, take a moment to pray and declare the truth from today's reading: "God is teaching me these lessons so that 'it may go well with me' in life." Give yourself time to marinate in that lesson. And, if you can't believe it now, then pray that you will someday. Prayer can really be that easy sometimes.
Praised be Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of God's promises.