One of my friends recently started a Christian T-Shirt company, and his first shirt caused me to do a lot of thinking about the way we live life, and the way we view God.
The idea behind this shirt is that we choose ourselves and what we want over God and what He wants, and then wonder why our world is so jacked up. We look around us and see the theft, violence, divorce rates, teenage parents, single moms and dads, rebellious children, children who grow up without parents at home because they’re always at work, and we ask ourselves “Why is it like this?!”
The answer is both profound, and very simple at the same time: We are doing what we want, instead of what God wants.
So, before we go any further, some of you are probably think that God has two words in His vocabulary; “no” and “don’t”. Well, if we look at how He created everything, there was one rule, ONE!! That rule was very simple: Don’t eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. What was so special about that tree? Nothing, really, only that God said not to eat of it. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and committed outright treason against the King by breaking that ONE RULE, the world became a dangerous place. So we started out with one rule, we mess that up, and the world becomes dangerous because we stepped out of the world of perfect harmony that God created and into one affected by and in bondage to sin, which causes selfishness, strife, and death. Dangerous places require more rules to live in safely.
So for a very brief bit of background (and I’m sure I’m leaving things out), we go through all of Genesis and the first 19 chapters of Exodus before God gives the Ten Commandments. Cain kills Abel, Adam and Eve die, Seth dies, Methuselah lives 969 years, Noah is born, has children at age 500, several years go by and the Flood happens, Abraham and Sarah have two children (Isaac being the one promised of God, and Ishmael being the result of Abraham’s unfaithfulness to God), Isaac has Jacob and Esau, God tells Jacob that he will be called Israel, Joseph has his coat of many colors and gets sold into slavery to the Egyptians, Joseph effectively becomes Pharaoh of Egypt, Joseph dies, the people of Israel grow in number (Ex. 1:7), and then 400 years pass before we see a new pharaoh show up who didn’t know Joseph (Ex. 1:8). This pharaoh commands that all the male children be killed, but God in His sovereignty saves Moses by causing his mother to put him in a basket on the Nile River which was then found by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses grows up, and eventually goes out into the wilderness, and then has an encounter with God in the burning bush. This begins the Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt.
I mention all of this to show how much happened between the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1-3, and the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Rough estimates indicate that the time between these two events was about 2,000 to 4,000 years. So we have God create a world full of “yeses” in the garden of Eden, with only ONE “no”, then over TWO THOUSAND YEARS pass before God gives the Ten Commandments to the Hebrews. Let’s stop and take a look at these commands God gave.
1. You shall have no other gods before Me (general statement)
2. You shall not commit idolatry (specific to man made images)
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
4. Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy
5. Honor your father and mother
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery
8. You shall not steal
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
10. You shall not covet
Alright, so we’ve got them all laid out now…anyone have a problem with these? Anyone thinking “You know, life would really be better if I could go out and murder someone right now”? Anyone thinking “Life would really be better in the long run if I could sleep with someone who isn’t my spouse”, or “Life would really be better if I took something that didn’t belong to me”?? Better yet, how about “Life would be absolutely fantastic if someone stole my car, slept with my spouse, and topped it off my murdering a loved one”??
OF COURSE NOT!!!
All of these affect and demonstrate our relationship with God. For example, we are made in the image of God, if you murder someone, you are then killing someone made in God’s image. What does that say about your view of God? All of these also affect and demonstrate our relationship with each other. Another reason God said that we shouldn’t murder is because life on earth will be better for us if we’re not out killing each other for no reason. The same goes for the rest, recognizing God as the only God of our lives shows much about our relationship with Him, as well as makes our lives better. I could go on, but you get the idea. God gave us these commandments not only because breaking these commandments goes against Him, but also because following them will make our lives better.
But, wait, I thought there were two whole books of laws they had to keep?? Yeah, well, actually, those two books of “the law” were how to make sacrifices and such to make yourself right in the eyes of God again after having broken the ten commandments. Interestingly enough, all of these rituals and sacrifices point to Jesus.
Jesus is the permanent sacrifice to make us right with God, there isn’t a need to sacrifice anything else now. Oh, and by the way, Jesus summed up the ten commandments with two commandments: Love God, Love people. Sounds like God is trying to make it easier on us to be right with Him. We definitely need faith in Jesus as Lord, Savior, and Treasure to be right with God. And really, we need this to be able to truly love God and people.
While following Christ isn’t easy, as Christians, having a simple frame of reference of “Is this action/thought loving God and people” gives us something which we can quickly tell if we are on the right track or not, as far as our actions and thoughts go.
When we choose our way over God’s way, we, in fact, make things worse for ourselves. So, we ask why our world is so jacked up. The answer is both profound, and simple: We are a selfish, stubborn, stiff-necked, idolatrous people who constantly choose our way over God’s way.
We can only choose God’s way once we have come to the realization that Jesus Christ is to be the Lord, Savior, and the supreme Treasure in our lives.
What have you been doing your way instead of God’s way?