Summary: God has moved mightily in our lives. God invites us to respond by placing God first in our lives and loving him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. (The first tablet of the Ten Commandments).
Exodus 20:1-11 “How to Love God”
Jesus spoke to a group of Jewish converts. His conversation is recorded in the eighth chapter of John’s gospel. In verse thirty-two Jesus says, “The truth will set you free.” Jesus follows this statement up in verse thirty-six with, “If the Sons sets you free, you will be free indeed.” It appears that freedom is very important to Jesus and to God.
This should not be too surprising. God wants his children to experience an abundant life and certainly freedom is part of that abundant life. What is surprising, though, is how readily God’s people are willing to give up that freedom and enslave themselves once again.
The Ten Commandments or the new phrase that I find appealing “The Ten Promises,” is a guideline for God’s people on how to stay free.
THE GOD WHO DELIVERS
The Lord accomplished mighty works in order to set the people of Israel free from their slavery in Egypt and for a new life in the Promised Land. Israel was set free so that they could freely respond to God’s love by loving God and by loving their neighbor.
Unfortunately the Israelites were unaware of the forces around them and yielded to the temptation to enslave themselves once again.
BE FREE FROM IDOLS
In the first commandment/promise, God reminds the Israelites that he is the God who delivered them and that they should not have any other God’s besides him. The Lord, God is the only being who deserves their loyalty and service.
We may no longer make any graven images, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our own gods and idols. Luther said that an idol or god is anything in which we place our faith, trust, and hope.
• One of our gods is affluence, or as internationally known speaker, Tony Compolo has named it affluenza. We acquire our self-worth from things. We are what we own, and we believe that we will find happiness or be happier if we had just one or two more things.
• Our retirement accounts are another one of our gods. This isn’t to say that we should not have a retirement account or invest wisely. It is to say that we shouldn’t place our faith for a comfortable life in these accounts. Ultimately it is God who provides for us and God will provide through our retirement account or through other means.
• Another example of a false god is popularity. We gain our identity and security from others. We do not allow ourselves to be ourselves if there is a possibility that it may alienate us from our friends. We become enslaved to others.
All idols enslave. God is not only a jealous God demanding that we serve no other gods besides him. God wants us to be free to serve him.
FREE FROM WORKING 24/7
Many of us get our identity from what we do. When we are asked to describe ourselves we usually include what we do--“I’m a pastor,” “I work at …” When we stop working we sometimes lose our identity. Also, when we stop working we fear how we are going to make ends meet.
God invites us to honor him by remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy. Certainly the Sabbath is a day of worship, it is also meant to be a day of rest. In the not too distant past, work was seen as worship. We served God and neighbor by using our gifts, talents and time. A person was invited to not only worship on the Sabbath, but also rest from his or her work and worship.
Observing the Sabbath is an act of faith. It is saying not only that we do not get our identity completely from our work, be we also trust God to care for us. Our survival is not solely in our hands. God’s hand is upon us. God will provide for us. We can rest and be free in that thought.
In reality, the Ten Commandments/Promises are not about ourselves. The Ten Commandments is about our neighbor. Incorporating the Ten Commandments into our lives enable us to love and serve both God and our neighbor.