The Law is Love

On October 1, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

The Law is Love Durrell Watkins The Decalogue Let there be peace among us and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s words be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. The Greek philosophers used to ask, “Is a thing right because the gods command it […]

The Law is Love
Durrell Watkins
The Decalogue

Let there be peace among us and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s words be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

The Greek philosophers used to ask,
“Is a thing right because the gods command it or do the gods command a thing because it is right?”

I have doubts about the mythology of how the 10 commandments came to be…I don’t need to believe that God chiseled them in stone and handed them to Moses…the cultural norms, universal ethical standards, and spiritual insights represented by the Decalogue stand on their own.
I don’t think they are right because they made the list;
I think they made the list because they are right.

There’s an old Sophie Tucker line from a song she used to do called Myron…the song is about a woman who wishes her husband was more amorous. She says, “Myron, so I’m not a hotsie totsie, so i’m not a beauty cutie…if you can’t be a lover, at least be a husband and do your duty!”
I guess I’ll do my duty and breeze through the commandments with you.

#1 Have no other gods.
Whatever is most important to us, whatever gets the most of our thoughts, our time, our money, our passion…that’s what we worship. Even the past can be what we worship (Apiz). There are lots of things we can enjoy, but ancient Hebrew theology said that it all should come second to devotion to God.

We give the majority of our focus, time, energy, and resources to something…maybe that something is our spirituality, but maybe its technology, career, money, power, or pleasure…the first commandment says try to put God first.

#2 No graven images.
Another way to say that is don’t put God in a box. There’s an old Buddhist teaching that says I can point to the moon with my finger, but my finger is not the moon. Rosaries, bibles, sacraments, stained glass windows, steeples, traditions, icons…they are all fine…they are all fingers pointing toward a deeper mystery. But when we start letting them “be” the sacred rather than representing the sacred, that is idolatry. We want to trap god in birdcages and genies’ lamps…but God can’t be put in a box.

#3 Don’t use misuse God’s name.
The ancients believed that to know someone’s name gave you some influence over them, and they thought it improper, even blasphemous to try to control, manipulate, or even unduly influence the divine.
The principle still applies. People are still trying to lord power over others in the name of God…they use God’s name to justify their homophobia, their transphobia, their war mongering, their abuse of the planet, their attempts to keep women away from altars and pulpits…People are still trying to gain power by misusing God’s name.

#4 Honor the Sabbath
I love this one. I need this one. I find a house of worship to visit anytime I am out of town. I have prayed and worshiped in churches in over 20 countries.
I pray daily, of course, and I study and I mediate and I think very religious thoughts, but I NEED to worship with others. I need to be lifted up by the singing and prayers of others. I need the energy that is shared with we come together. I need a day of worship and reflection in sacred community. It’s healing. It’s energizing.
And while I believe Sunshine Cathedral is the best worshiping community…when I am away, I almost always find second best…because a day of shared worship, of getting away from the daily routines and worries and habits…to take an hour or two to get away from that and reconnect and refocus completely on God…that is food for my soul.

Robert and I will make sure to have a date night or a date day regularly…it might just be drinks or dinner or a movie or a walk or binge watching some tv…but we find some time to just be together. Sabbath is the intentional date day with God. And it does for my relationship with the divine what date night does for my relationship with my husband.

5 – 10 are about how to treat one another.
5…Take care of the elders, which would suggest caring for all who are vulnerable…children, refugees, the sick…who ever needs a helping hand.

6…Don’t murder. That meant don’t murder any of your folk…the people in your tribe, clan, community…but I think we’ve evolved to the point of realizing the human family is our global clan. (PR & VI – our US tribe, our global clan).

Don’t kill off those in your tribe also means to not deny people food, water, clean air, medicine, or adequate wages #6 is not only let live, it’s help people live and live well.

7…Do not commit adultery. Might interest you to know Moses had two wives at the same time. Jacob had 2 and children by two of his servants. David, PS, had at least 8 wives (and a dude named Jonathan). But the winner is Solomon…300 primary wives, 700 secondary wives (concubines), and rumor has it a one night stand with the Queen of Sheba (that’s just greedy).

In a polygamous culture, what’s adultery? The same as it is now…adultery is when you break the sacred vows you make to someone you love. I don’t know what you’ve promised your spouse or companion, and your promises are none of my business, but fidelity means keeping your promises. Make covenants you can keep, and then keep them.

8. Don’t steal. Don’t steel people’s stuff, or their time, or their dignity.

9. Don’t give false testimony in court or on the job or to the press…don’t try to ruin someone’s life or reputation.

10. Don’t covet someone else’s good fortune…be happy when people do well, feel for them when they hit hard times. We all have ups and downs…let’s celebrate the ups and encourage one another through the downs. That doesn’t leave much time, energy, or need to be jealous of what someone else seems to have.

Those are the 10 commandments…but you might wonder how you’ll remember all 10 and then remember what each of the ten mean for us today. Jesus was way ahead of us. He quoted a verse from Leviticus and a verse from Deuteronomy to say that the most important Commandments are just to love God and love people.
By the way, in the 10 commandments…the first 4 are examples of what it looks like to love God, and the last 6 are examples of how we can show love for people. So really, there’s one commandment…LOVE.

Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.” That’s not new…what he was saying was, “I’m summarizing what all the commandments are about…just love.”

We read in 1 John 4.16, “God is love and whoever lives in love lives in God and God lives in them.”

And the Apostle Paul said that when we love we fulfill the law. The law is love…it’s not memorizing rules and following them to the letter…the so called commandments are suggestions on how to live in love.

It’s not so much “thou shalt not” as it is,
“if you love god then you will not use God as an excuse to hurt people, you will not forget to worship, you will not try to trap god in symbols and dogmas and traditions…
[and] if you love others then you will not steal from them or break your promises to them or try to hurt them or be jealous of their good fortune or ignore them when they are vulnerable.”

God is love, and being loving is how we best honor God…the 10 suggestions offer us some guidance on how to live in love, but the law isn’t the list…The law is love…when we love, we’re keeping all of the commandments…and this is the good news. Amen.

God fill my heart with your love.
I am ready to live in the power of love.
I will love myself, my neighbor, and my God more and more each day.
And so it is!

 

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