The Mustard Seed
Dare To Be Different
One of the pillars of both Jewish and Christian religious tradition is the Ten Commandments.
Here is a quick quiz: How many of the Ten Commandments can you remember? Write them down. You don't need to get them in the right order. (You may check your list with Exodus 20:3-17 or Deuteronomy 5:7-21.)
Look at just those commandments that you remembered and wrote down. How well are you doing in keeping (obeying) them? Which commandments have you successfully kept? And which ones are tripping you up?
"Well, let's see... I haven't murdered anyone, so I pass on that one."
Hold on! Not so fast! Are you sure? Jesus has something to say about that:
"You have heard what was said to people who lived long ago. They were told, 'Do not commit murder. [Exodus 20:13] Anyone who murders will be judged for it.' But here is what I tell you. Do not be angry with a brother or sister. Anyone who is angry with them will be judged. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca,' [an insult or curse] must stand trial in court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire in hell." (Matthew 5:21-22)*
Oops! In God's eyes, "murder" isn't just what we do, but also is what we feel and what we say. I may not be responsible for anyone's death, but have I been angry against someone? Yes. Have I said hurtful things to (or about) someone? I don't remember, but I am sure someone out there remembers when I said something to them that I shouldn't have. So... Take my mug-shot and post a title over my picture: "MURDERER!" I am guilty.
In Jesus' application of the Ten Commandments, He helps us to see that obeying God's Law is a lot harder than we first thought. Indeed, obeying God's holy Law is impossible! Obedience is as much a matter of our attitude as it involves our actions. In God's eyes, we are all guilty.
That's the Bad News. But God also has Good News. The Bible says that God has transferred our guilt to His holy Son, Jesus. Jesus carried our guilt to the cross. He accepted the full punishment that we deserve. We can do nothing to earn God's forgiveness, but Jesus already earned it for us and He offers us God's forgiveness as a free gift.
He himself carried our sins in his body on the cross. (1 Peter 2:24)*
Christ didn't have any sin. But God made him become sin for us. So we can be made right with God because of what Christ has done for us. (2 Corinthians 5:21)*
The Ten Commandments deal with our relationship with God and our relationship with people. Our sinful attitudes and actions break our relationship in both directions -- with God and people. So also, Jesus heals our relationship with God and our relationship with people. BOTH are important. Jesus said:
"So when you offer your gift to God at the altar, and you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar. Go and make peace with that person, and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)**
If you have messed up, don't hide it. Admit it. And if someone else was hurt because of what you did, go and make it right with them. Proverbs 28:13 says, "If you hide your sins, you will not succeed. If you confess and reject [stop doing] them, you will receive mercy."**
In the next several articles in this series, we will work through Jesus' comparison between the world's "common sense" and God's perfect wisdom. You can get a jump start by reading ahead: Matthew 5:21-48.
~~ Pastor Ron
* the New International Reader's Version and
** the New Century Version
To view live Signed Sunday morning worship, click here
You are invited to Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf in Silver Spring
a couple blocks south of the Metro Red Line Forest Glen Station
Sunday Worship: 9:30AM
in Ely 118.
Drop in and introduce yourself!!
Pastor Ron Friedrich