Old Ways – New Ways

Old Ways – New Ways

Friends, I invite you to share your comments on these Afterthoughts at the bottom of this web page. I would love hear what you think! brad+

On Sunday,

I shared from the Exodus reading and the giving of the 10 commandments.

(And, let me offer an apology for the longer than usual sermon).

Much has been said about the Ten Commandments.

They have been used in many different ways.

To control.

To threaten.

To remind.

To create boundaries.

And the intention of the Commandments (and the Law in general)

Has been, at times, greatly misunderstood.

The Law (including the Ten Commandments)

Was given to a particular people,

At a particular place,

For a particular reason.

Israel had a long history prior to this.

Abraham was called by God to go to place he didn’t know.

He and Sarah had a child in their old age.

Their son, Isaac, had twins-Esau and Jacob

Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright.

Jacob had many sons.

His favorite was Joseph.

Joseph’s brothers were jealous and sold him into slavery.

Joseph ended up saving his family (and the entire region) during a famine.

Joseph was put second-in-command in Egypt.

The Israelites thrived in Egypt.

A new king arises who knew nothing of Joseph.

The king was threatened by the prosperity of the Israelites.

The Israelites were put into indentured servitude and treated harshly.

God raised a leader, Moses, to lead them out of slavery.

The Israelites then found themselves in the literal-middle-of-nowhere.

They needed their way of thinking retooled.

They would now need to be a different kind of people.

Not the people who found themselves under the control of the Egyptians.

Or the ways of that culture.

Or the worship of their many gods.

And the customs of that land.

They are intended to be a new people.

Learning to the True Community.

So, it is out with the Old.

And in with the New.

The Ten Commandments are the start of the New Way

  • Worship only God. Not the gods that you create.
  • Don’t create something else to worship. Worship your Creator.
  • Don’t misrepresent God with your actions. Be who you say you are.
  • Take a break from the rat race and be in a worshipping community.
  • Respect and honor your elders.
  • Don’t bring violence into your spiritual community.
  • Dishonoring covenants has no place in a community of faith.
  • Living in scarcity and living in community are mutually exclusive.
  • Let your word be your word.
  • Be content with what you have.

This was a new thing.

If the Israelites could practice it, they would be a healthy community.

But they had a hard time doing so.

And so do we.

Which is why we need Jesus.

Who Paul calls the Author and Perfector of our faith.

The example of God’s intention for us.

The Word made flesh.

Who dwelt among us.

And we are called to this new thing too.

To live differently.

To do community differently.

Paul addresses part of this in the reading from Philippians from Sunday.

In the new Church that emerged after the Jesus ascended to the right hand of God,

There were those who struggled to jettison the old ways,

And focus on the new ways.

Paul new people would try to use their clout as collateral in this new community.

Things like power, social status, money, family of origin, etc.

Paul understands the tendency to put “confidence in the flesh.”

The things we use to “get our foot in the door” in community.

The desire to impress others so that they would like us.

And value us.

And think highly of us.

But Paul has another way.

A way that takes a detour away from putting our confidence in our resumes.

He writes about it in Philippians 3:7-12;

Yet whatever gains I had [however I stacked my resume], these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

The New Way calls us to consider our resumes as rubbish.

Things destined for the Nevada County Transfer Station.

And trade this for knowing Jesus.

And identifying with His death and resurrection.

And to forget about the old ways of competition for attention.

And striving to get noticed.

And swooning after others to feel loved and accepted.

To be in community with others that wish not to expand their resumes,

But to invest in the journeys of others

As they seek to become more Christ-like

And living into God’s call for their life.

To be the hands and feet of Jesus to those surrounding them.

The salt and the light to those who commune with them.

Blessings,

brad+

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