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My one sermon...and the Ten Freedoms

It's said that most preachers have only one sermon in them, and all sermons are really just a variation on that one theme.

I don't know how true that is, but if it were true of me, my one sermon or theme would be, 

"There's a God-shaped hole inside each of us that only God can fill, and 99% of human misery, loneliness, and trouble comes from trying to fill our God-shaped hole with someone or something other than God or - failing that - from trying to numb (or run away from) the pain caused by not filling our God-shaped hole with God." 

I'd like to show how the three-part sermon series on the Ten Commandments (wrapping up this Sunday) is consistent with this one theme.

So far the two major points I've made about the Ten Commandments are: 

1) if we can follow the First Commandment, the other nine come easily, and

2) the first Commandment begins NOT with a commandment, but a reminder: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

It's important to remember that it is only after God reminds us of his nature as one who desires our freedom does God say, "don't have (don't worship or put at the center of your life) anything or anyone else other than me, the god of freedom."

God, who wants to fill your heart, desires your freedom; he does not want you to be enslaved to anyone or anything.

But God knows it is part of our human nature to try to fill our God-shaped hole with people, work, causes, or other small-g-gods.

And God knows because those small-g-gods over time become idols or even masters, eventually robbing us of our power and freedom, we do (to some degree or another) lose our freedom and find ourselves (to some degree or another) enslaved...figuratively back in the land of Egypt, back in the house of bondage.

And so God gives us other commandments not so much as restrictions on our freedom but as things that make truer freedom possible.

In fact I like how sometimes the Ten Commandments are referred to as the Ten Freedoms. It's a recognition that to the degree we can follow them, we are more likely to be free from various kinds of idolatries that would, over time, entrap or ensnare us.

As we'll hear in the Old Testament lesson appointed for this Sunday, the Lord God "observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey."

In other words, the god who wants to be at the center of your heart is a good god, a loving god, a freeing god.

What's going on with you right now?

What makes you miserable, what's making you cry out?

What suffering are you undergoing or concerned about?

Hear this good news:

It is the nature of God that God doesn't just sit high up in the heavens unaffected or not noticing or caring.

God observes what makes you miserable...God hears you cry out (even if silently and secretly)...indeed, God knows suffering.

And more than that: it is the nature of God to come down to deliver and bring you up out of whatever entraps, enslaves, or binds you. It is God's desire to "bring you up, out of that land."

It is God's desire to get you free.


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