Summary: Christians must display a frame filled God if we are to prperly influence the world with God’s love.

"An Empty Frame" – Exodus 20:1-20

Sunday, July 8, 2007

In the lobby of the courthouse in Pulaski County, Kentucky there hangs a large Empty Frame…

It isn’t there as a joke…It’s not a mistake either…

It’s a testimony to what used to hang on this wall…

The frame used to contain the Ten Commandments

In 2001, a U.S. District Judge ordered that the display be removed…

A Federal appeals court upheld this decision in 2003…

The ruling states that courthouse postings of the Ten Commandments violate the First Amendment of the Constitution…

an amendment that forbids Congress from making any law “respecting the establishment of religion”

This is often called “The Separation of Church and State” amendment.

By order of the court, the Ten Commandments came down…

but, The Empty Frame remains.

This controversy continues across the country…

There are people on both sides of the issue with strong opinions

and people will argue about whether or not to display the Ten Commandments in public spaces for years to come

But, the issue has me wondering…

Should God’s Law trump man’s law?

Should the rule of law in our country more closely resemble God’s Law?

Did the Founding Fathers really intend for church and state to be separate – for the church to have no influence on government or, did they simply want to insure that no particular religion was given preferential treatment under the law?

These are complex questions…

Questions that have been debated for over 200 years

So, what is the church supposed to do about it?

That brings me to the more important question – the subject of today’s message…

Many churches don’t even display the Ten Commandments

on their own walls…

In fact, I searched our entire building and found no public display of God’s Law anywhere…

The only Ten Commandments hanging in the church are

in my office and in Iris’ office…

There’s nothing in our classrooms or hallways that would remind us of what the Ten Commandments are.

How sad that our own church displays only An Empty Frame

So, my questions this morning are these:

• Where are the Ten Commandments in our own lives?

• Are we displaying them clearly in our own daily words and deeds?

• Are we keeping them prominently posted in our personal lives?

• OR…Are we just empty frames?

As people of faith, we must fill our frames with not only The Ten Commandments,

but also with The Great Commandment to love God and love one another

To some, God’s commandments sound like a harsh list of “thou-shalt-nots,”

but that is not their intent…

They really give us a very positive framework for how to live our lives.

The first four commandments guide us in our relationship with God…

the last six guide us in our relationships with one another.

If we really look at the Ten Commandments, what we find is that they are challenging, but they are not negative.

The positive side of the first four is that we are able to worship God…

“…with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength…”

When we worship God instead of the powers of this world,

we lead much happier lives.

Better to bow down before God than to bow down before the idols

of Wall Street, Hollywood, or corporate greed

Better to rest on the Lord’s Day and be ready to do the work we must do during the week.

These aren’t limits to our freedom…

They are prescriptions for our mental and physical health.

The positive side of the last six commandments is that we love our neighbors as ourselves…Sounds like something Jesus once said, doesn’t it?

We’re an empty frame when…

• Our lifestyle displays the values of consumerism and materialism

• We present our own interests as being identical to God’s interests

• We attempt to legitimize our ideologies and positions

by attaching the name of God

• We have no concept of Sabbath rest that includes rest for ourselves,

for others, and for creation

• We fail to honor and respect our elders

• We carry hatred and resentment in our hearts against others

• We are unfaithful to our marriage vows

• We take for ourselves what belongs to someone else

• We pass on gossip, rumors, and innuendo about another person

• We are envious of the success of others

These may sound like little things, but…

Have you ever tried to pull a dangling thread from the hem of a pant-leg,

or skirt, or jacket…only to find that you’ve gotten hold of one of those running stitches?

Instead of breaking off, the thread continues to unstitch itself until the whole hem falls out…

Instead of being free of an annoying little thread you now have a major mess.

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