Saturday, June 16, 2007

The ten warnings

Exodus 20v1-3:
Then God gave the people all these instructions: "I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery." "You must not have any other god but me..."
I've started reading 'The Lost Message of Jesus' the controversial book by Steve Chalke. Steve Chalke was on the telly a lot when I was a student, generally trying to play the role of the young, hip & trendy Christian minister on BBC religious programmes. For this reason I never really liked him much. But in this book (which was written a few years ago, but only seems to have become controversial this year) shows a much deeper insight and wisdom than I'd ever given him credit for.

I've heard a few preachers in the past trying to explain why the "I am the Lord your God..." line before the first commandment was so important, but I'd never really got the importance of it until I read the third chapter of Steve's book.

That line is there to put the commandments in context. They're not a list of "thou shalt not do [whatever] or else!" as is the common perception. Rather, the list is more one of warnings: "It would be better for you if you didn't do [whatever] because that action will have negative consequences...". And the consequence is not the wrath of a vengeful God for breaking His law, the consequence is the breakdown of happy family and community life.

All this is conveyed in Exodus 20v2: "I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery."

The point is not "I am a great and powerful God who Lords it over you" but rather "I am the God who loves you, who has already demonstrated this love for you, and who wants the best for you... and the best will only be realised if you avoid doing these things..."

How come I'd never seen it like that before? Has society's negative view of God infiltrated the church so much that we believe in the angry, vengeful God?

I'm hoping for more big insights in the rest of the book... and I haven't even got to the controversial bit yet. Watch this space...

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