This is a re-post from my personal blog. It’s a reflection on the Ten Words, better known as the Ten Commandments.
- All sin is having other Gods before Yahweh. Whether it is Baal, Asherah, or Ra; or whether it is one of the three main contemporary American idols: “Mars, Mammon, and Me*,” we have a hard time with putting God first.
- All sin is making graven images. Our sentry skyscrapers bring praise to Adam Smith. Our Christmas displays (which were up before Halloween this year in my grocery store) magnify and extol Santa Claus. Even our churches spend millions on new buildings as people starve to death or die from preventable disease.
- All sin is taking the LORD’s name in vain. God’s name is written in all creation as a painter signs her work; yet we have lost wonder. All human beings bear God’s image and name and story; yet we create division and disunity with stick-on labels like “right-winger”or “gay” or “terrorist.”
- All sin is forgetting the Sabbath. We work our lives away and gain nothing but money and nervous breakdowns and heart attacks. We fish and farm and log until the fisheries are gone and the topsoil is lost and the rainforest is a desert. We minister until we burn out, and if we don’t, we are bad Christians.
- All sin is dishonoring our fathers and mothers. We “go our own way” starting in high school or college, and don’t darken the church door again until we have our own kids to Christianize. We are neither thankful nor filial to our co-creators.
- All sin is murder. We offer sacrifices to Mars in Afghanistan. We create enemies despite Jesus’ own dogged refusal to do so. We hate and dislike and avoid and gossip and don’t forgive. We even turn Jesus from a principled pacifist into a supporter of whichever side of whichever war we happen to be fighting.
- All sin is adultery. Our hearts are darkly drawn to the “other.” We reject the sufficiency of Christ and the coequal blessings of singleness and marriage, choosing to devolve instead into some other mammal. And we justify it all with hermeneutical gymnastics; explaining away the unpopular message that sexual intimacy is for marriage only.
- All sin is stealing. We steal from the working poor so they don’t grow “dependent” on social safety nets. We steal the hope of a better future for undocumented immigrants by summarily deporting them. We steal the right to a fair hearing from those with different theological viewpoints.
- All sin is bearing false witness. Politicians and lawyers are the usual suspects, but what about coal companies? What about the ever-more-polarized media? What about (dare I suggest) even some of our preachers and theologians?
- All sin is coveting. God’s economy of plenty is supplanted by a human economy of scarcity. We “consume” “goods,” which lose their goodness all too quickly when our neighbors consume newer goods with more bells and whistles. Thy neighbor’s donkey, thy neighbor’s iPhone, thy neighbor’s self-confidence, thy neighbor’s perceived closeness with God; the list is long.
The remedy is neither capitalism nor communism, neither Calvinism nor Arminianism, neither science nor religion. The only remedy is Jesus, in whom all sin died, and in whom alone there is newness of life.
*courtesy of Reba Place Fellowship, Evanson, IL