Monday, June 29, 2009

Thou Shalt Not . . .

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
--Mark 8:36

The Ten Commandments are good. I mean it's obvious. Who can argue against them? But when you take the Ten Commandments and render them into a model of superstitious obedience through which one may gain worldly success--well, that's not only silly, but seems oddly blasphemous to boot.

What do the commandments warn against? Stealing, lying, murdering, adultery, and such-like. The avoidance of such things is well advised (good job, God!), yet seemingly clear enough from the outset, without even needing to be carved in stone.

The power of each commandment is found not in word, but in transgression. Herein lies the irony--the knowledge that is applicable to personal growth lies not in faithfulness but in disobedience.

This all goes a bit deeper than the latest (which is the same) 'How to live a successful and happy life' seminar.

Yet this is what I sat through this morning--for 2-1/2 LONG hours--listening to a husband and wife pastoring team coddle and berate the congregation about how bad things happen to people because they have failed to obey the 4th or the 5th or the 7th commandment.

Yes, they told of their journeys in the world, how they stayed at the Hilton in Tokyo, traveled in America, toured Europe, garnered invitations and honors.

What is the message? That possession of the riches of the world, all those things that are so commonly craved, is the goal life after all? What is it that we are looking for in church--a new Mercedes, a gold banded wristwatch, a suite at the Hilton in Jakarta while the people on the street scrape the gutters for food?

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

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