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Ever Notice that the Ten Commandments Begin with a Self-Introduction?

I ended my last message by saying there are two ways we can avoid religious hypocrisy, two ways to be our truest selves:

First, we need to come to an understanding of ourselves as having been created in the image of an "over-the-top gestures-of-love" God who is forever-forgiving, abundant, joy-filled, and creative.  If that is not God you believe in, then start by repenting -- changing your mind -- about the false god you've been believing in. If you perceive yourself as being made in the image of the god you believe in,  then you  must pay very careful attention to the characteristics of that god you believe in. Because it all starts there.  So let me ask you again: is the god you believe in the "over-the-top-gestures-of-love" God who is forever-forgiving, abundant, joy-filled, and creative? If not, start re-reading (or reading for the first time) the Bible on a daily basis, because that's the God who is revealed in those books.   If you don't know what kind of Bible to get, or you don't know where to start reading, or how to read it, then ask here.

Second,  building from that understanding, in order to avoid religious hypocrisy, we need to put our divinely-received love, spirit-of-forgiveness, abundance, joy-filled nature, and creative spirit into concrete, tangible, visible deeds.

But how?

Well, the Ten Commandments are a pretty good place to start. And the timing is good for a review of them, because they are the assigned Old Testament reading for this Sunday.

The two major points I've made before 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 -- here we go again! -- with a reminder of who God is, what God's character is like:  "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."
Notice how we get a little self-introduction before we get a commandment?
It is only after God reminds us of who God is (namely, one who not only desires our freedom, but acts in history to bring our freedom about ) does God tell us what, and what not to do. "I'm a god of freedom, God says, "so why in the world would you have (worship, bow down before, put at the center of your life) anything or any other god than me? Can't you see that all the other gods you are so fond of are only limiting your freedom, and slowly enslaving you?"

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 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.

God gives us the other nine commandments not so much as restrictions on our freedom but as things that make truer freedom possible.  So as we'll see in Sunday's "Ten Commandments in Ten Minutes" sermon, I want to show how the Ten Commandments can be thought of as Ten Freedoms. To the degree we can follow the first, and then the other nine commandments, we are more likely to be free from all the idolatries and small-g-gods that would, otherwise, entrap and enslave us, and more likely to be free to live into the image of the God in whose image we were created.


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