Indeed, the whole earth is mine. But you will be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:5-6)
This week we turn to our summer scripture. It will be a chance to explore a few series of texts and dig deeper into a few important themes. It will also tie in with lots of important things happening in our midst. Our Sacred Living small groups are beginning to meet. Our capital campaign to lift up the importance of the resources we use for ministry and to gather what we need to make the entrance welcoming and handicap accessible is underway. This summer will be unlike any summer we have experienced at Zion!
The series we begin is based on the 10 commandments. We will spend a few weeks looking at these. But interestingly enough, the first week of the series we don’t mention a single commandment. We will start talking about the commandments without talking about any commandments!
The verses above explain why. The commandments were first grounded in the work of God and in the people’s relationship with God. They aren’t a list that just drops out of the sky with no back-story. And they aren’t intended to be just randomly applied apart from that relationship. God has done amazing things for the Israelites in helping them escape captivity in Egypt. But God isn’t a one and done kind of God. God wants a long-term relationship and to bear long term results with the people.
So today’s question is a simple but profound one. In a world preoccupied with the question, “How are you doing?” (where the religious scorecard is based on whether you can claim to be a “good” person or not), God’s question would be, “How is your relationship with God going?” Is your relationship with God helping you to be thankful for all that God has done in your life already? Are you able to remember with gratitude those things and times when God has strengthened you for whatever you faced in life? And are you open to be useful to God in the future?
The 10 Commandments were given to shape the identity of the people so their lives would be a witness to the world about how amazing God is. They are about God’s love before God’s law. God wants to do the same with each of our lives: lovingly shape us and mold us into thankful people and then call us forth to live lives that bear witness to the goodness of God. The 10 Commandments were one way that God did this with the ancient Israelites. The grace we receive in Christ calls us to both give thanks and be transformed in our lives and world today.