The Ten Commandments have received a bad rap in modern culture. Frankly, they've been mistreated by a wide-array of worldview persuasions. So I'd like to offer just two brief reasons we ought to hold The Ten Commandments in high regard.
First, they tell us what matters to God. God didn't play a game the day he wrote these. He didn't arbitrarily pull them out of a hat and say, "Good luck trying to obey these!" There is careful, divine intent behind them. They originate from the very heart and being of God. They tell us what God values. They tell us what God prizes. If he is the object of our love, what matters to him should matter to us.
Second, they show us what a saved life ought to look like. Keep in mind the context for The Ten. God didn't say to his people, Israel, "If you can obey these, I'll get you out of captivity in Egypt." No! God saved them first. He rescued them first. He redeemed them first and THEN gave them the commands. Salvation first, obedience second; grace first, then holiness. If you are a Christian, you have been saved to live a holy life.
Remembering these two reflections can help restore a dignified treatment of these words from our Lord.
The created things of this world typically fall into one of three categories, according to Steve Hoppe. They are: god, garbage, or gift. Here’s the deal: God created us in a such a way that we are shaped by what we worship and serve as ‘god’.
For example, if we say “Aaron’s ‘god’ is sports.” What kind of comment are we making? We’re probably saying Aaron really, really, really likes sports. He probably watches a ton of it. Maybe he plays just as much. Very likely underneath the visible behavior are strong intellectual and emotional connections. He probably thinks and talks about sport frequently and gets irritated if life causes him to miss out on them. And then, consider the effects of this on his relationships with people. Perhaps there are friends in his life who get neglected or become the objects of his testiness due to missed sporting opportunities. Very likely his euphoric celebrations aren’t reserved for the accomplishments of loved ones, but rather are directed towards the achievements of his favorite teams.
So once we get done fleshing out what Aaron’s behavior is like with sports serving as his functional god, what kind of person has Aaron become? There comes a point when we are no longer describing isolated behavior, but concentrated character. Sports, as god, have shaped Aaron.
I don’t mean to pick on sports. We could use sex, money, politics, causes, or any number of examples. When good things become ultimate things, they have become ‘god’. And our ‘gods’ always affect us.
Whatever you worship, will form you.
Whatever receives your best thinking and emoting, will influence you.
Whatever gets your loyal attention, will mold you.
Don’t believe me?
But their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them. - Psalm 115:4-8
We become like what we worship.
There is a call to action here. What ‘gods’ are you serving? How are they shaping you? Take a look at your behavior, thoughts, and emotions - whom do they seem to be employed in the service of?
Before the day is done, get your nose in God’s Word. Lift up your face to the heavens and pray to the Lord. Encourage a loved one.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. - Ephesians 5:15-16
"I can catch the sermon online."
"My church streams their worship services online so I don't have to physically attend."
"I'm a Christian already. Church is just a 'bonus.'"
I am concerned for the souls of those professing Christians who do not prioritize church attendance at gospel-preaching churches. I have often wondered, if Jesus was living among us, in our neighborhoods, how often would he attend church? Can you picture Jesus skipping participating in the "The Lord's Day" gathering in order to sleep in, read the paper, while sipping his coffee? Can you picture him working at the mill or office instead? Or attending sports events?
How often would Jesus want to spend time with his bride, the church? How often would Jesus attend church if he was living among us today? Once a month? Twice a month? What do you think?
Make no mistake about it: attending church doesn't earn our salvation. But faithful church attendance does make a statement about our hunger for God and love for his people. Scott Sauls provides illustrative imagery:
“Imagine a man meets the woman of his dreams. He soon discovers, to his delight that he is also the man of her dreams. They spend time together, they fall in love, and he proposes marriage. She happily accepts. A month later, she invites him to attend her annual family reunion because she wants to introduce him to all her brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. At the family reunion, he discovers the unimaginable. Her father…wears boots that squeak. Her younger brother sings off-key. And her first cousin has a double chin. Furthermore, he discovers that several of her other relatives have high-pitched voices, voted for the wrong candidate, appreciate bad music, speak with unsophisticated accents, have bad breath, cheat on their tax returns, belch at the dinner table, are rude to the waiter, and aren’t very interested in him as a person…the thought of a future with her family members is simply unbearable to him.
‘You know that I adore you,’ he says to her. ‘But if we are going to move forward with this wedding, you need to know that I don’t ever want to see your mother, your father, your sisters, your brothers, your cousins, or any of your family members again. Can you marry me under these conditions?’”
The obvious answer is "no." The call to follow Jesus as a Christian is simultaneously the call to actively live within the community of a church.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:23-25