Friday, November 02, 2012

The Ultimate DTR: Ten Ways of the People of God

You can't go long in church without hearing about the Ten Commandments. You can't, for that matter, go long in American society without hearing about them. The Ten Commandments are particularly well suited to American culture: they sound like the first half of the title to a self-help or business leadership book ("The Ten Commandments of Highly Effective People"; "Ten Commandments for a Better You!").

That's not what they are, of course. The Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God atop Mt. Sinai in the middle of an exodus from Egypt, where the people of Israel had been enslaved for hundreds of years. They were given to the people of Israel as they made their slow, challenging way to the "promised land" of Canaan, where they would settle and become a distinct nation. They were, in effect, the ultimate "define the relationship" talk.

My friend Sean Gladding is in the midst of writing a book on the Ten Words (how he refers to them); it's gonna be a winner. But you can't go the length of a book's publication process without hearing about the Ten Commandments. So I thought I'd try my hand at a paraphrase--casting them in terms of relationship. Feel free to tell me what's wrong with my meager attempt in the comments below; or feel free to draft your own paraphrase. What's the harm, really?

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You are my people, and I am your God. This is how my people live well in the world I made for them.

Other people may have other gods, but you, my people, will have only me.

Other people may take little trinkets and call them gods, but you my people will not make a trinket of me.

Other people may objectify God with their words, but you my people will treat my name with the honor and respect I your God am due.

Other people may never rest—they may think they're above it or think they have no right to it—but you my people will follow my lead and rest regularly in my provision. Moreover, you my people will not rob others of their rest.

Other people may neglect, abuse or otherwise dishonor their parents, seeing them not as elders but merely as old, but you my people will show your parents honor.

Other people may see violence as a natural and appropriate way of solving their problems, but you my people will not kill.

Other people may treat sex as recreation and their spouses as commodities to be dispensed with at whim, but you my people will forswear adultery and treat marriage as a sacred covenant.

Other people may take whatever they can no matter how it hurts another human being, but you my people will forswear theft.

Other people may lie freely to serve their needs, regardless of the harm it might do to others, but you my people will live in the truth.

Other people may view the things and even people around them as assets to be seized and exploited, tainting relationships and unsettling the environment by their self-absorbed covetousness—but you my people will practice contentment and wish your neighbor well.

You, my people, are no longer slaves, thanks to me. You no longer have anything to fear; you are my people, and I am your God, and this is how my people live well in the world I made for them.

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