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CliffsNotes Commandments

Click here to read Numbers 5 on BibleGateway.com

rmc0058l1Numbers 5: 6 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty.”

The Christian life is remarkably easy to describe.  Oh, you may not think that; it seems like those lousy Christians (or if you’re a Christian, those lousy preachers) are always talking about all the commandments we have to follow to be “holy.”   Sometimes they’ll even throw out numbers (usually 613) that are somewhat hard to delineate,  but are nonetheless impressive.  And of course we all know the 10 commandments, even though actual stats show that less than 14% of Americans know the 10 commandments, whereas 25% know all the ingredients of a Big Mac and 35% could name all the Brady kids.  Apparently television outranks the Bible and food in importance.

Fortunately for us and our short attention spans, Jesus simplified things a little.  In Matthew 22, Jesus sums up all 600-ish commands with two: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.  And all of the “New Testament” Christians say “see, it’s all about love now.  The Old Testament is all about law and sacrifice, but in the New Testament it’s all about love and peace and drinking wine for my stomach problems.”

BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS

Now this may be shocking, so sit down:  God didn’t change between the Old and New Testaments.  Somehow, an eternal being – one that existed before the creation of Time and Space, and will continue to exist after all the stars burn out – managed to not completely alter his nature in the 400-year span between Malachi and Matthew.  God is God, the same yesterday and today and tomorrow, the same at the Beginning and End, the same now as before cellphones and the Interweb.  God has always been about Love; love between us and God, and love between us and our neighbors

Even in the bad ole mean Old Testament, God was still all about love.  In Numbers, God clarifies that all sin against other people is really sin against God.  Why, you ask?  Because we are created in the image of God.  To attack God’s image is to attack God himself.  When the world is dividing itself into “us” and “them,” when the “innocent” are hurt by the “powerful,” when the “bad” is hurt by the “good,” we are all still answerable to God himself.  We are kind to others, not because they deserve it, but because God deserves it.

CREATED HE THEM

Think about the last 24 hours.  Did you speak to everyone as if you were speaking to God?  Do you react to everyone as if you were reacting to God?  Did you give respect to everyone as you would to God?  Can you say honestly say that you loved God, and that you loved others?

If not (and let’s go out on a limb and say that none of us did that), then that is the challenge for today.  Speak to that friend, or parent, or boss, as if you were talking to God.  Treat that homeless person as if God was asking for help.  Give as if you were giving to God. Obey that authority as if it were God himself commanding you.

Because in many ways, it is.

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