Greetings in the name of the Christ child!
I hope that this letter finds you all rested from the holiday season. I hope that you have had time to spend with family and friends as we celebrated the coming of our Lord and Savior in the form of the baby Jesus.
If your families are anything like mine, in the midst of the celebrations there was undoubtedly some conflict. At my house this holiday season Betsy and I had both sets of parents come visit us. For three days both sets of parents were with us at the same time. While it was wonderful to have family around, and I wouldn’t change that in a minute, there were times when emotions ran a little wild and patience ran a little short. This is always going to be the case when you have any number of people all under one roof for a period of time. It is human nature.
But God devised a way to help us navigate the relationships in our lives. He gave us rules to help guide our relationships and to keep them in the proper perspective. If you remember back to the November newsletter I wrote in that letter about how the first three commandments of the Ten Commandments help keep our relationship with God in proper perspective. Well in the last seven commandments we are told of a proper relationship with those around us. In short they guide our relationships with our neighbors.
Starting in the fourth commandment the focus is shifted off of our relationship with God and on to our relationships with others. It only makes sense that we start off with a commandment relating to our parents, after all our parents are the first “other” people we encounter in our lives. In this commandment we are told that we are to honor and respect our parents and others that God has placed in authority over us, because God has placed them in our lives to protect us. In my mind God starts with our parents because if we cannot honor and respect our parents, how are we to honor and respect anyone else.
Moving on to commandments five through eight God gives us specific rules that helps to protect our relationships with those around us outside of our parents. God values the sanctity of life and wants us to as well and so God tells us not to kill. God wants our relationships with other people to be pure and so God tells us not to commit adultery. God wants us to honor and respect what God has give us and others and so God tells us not to steal. Finally God wants us to look out for the best interest of those around us and to come to their aid in their time of need and so God tells us not to bear false witness against our neighbors.
In the last two commandments God sums up what all of these other commandments are about. In the last two commandments God tells us not to covet anything that belongs to another person. We are to rely solely on God for what we need in this life and not our own desires. If we covet that which is not ours it is as though we are saying to God that we do not trust that God will provide for us.
Getting back to my example of family from the beginning we soon find that like the first three commandments we have a very hard time keeping the last seven as well. In fact there is no way for us as human beings to keep these commandments. We have a sickness; a disease that keeps us from keeping God first in our lives. But that is exactly why God came to earth as a baby; in order to show us the love that he has for us even when we do not show our love for God or other people very well. God gave us a cure for our sickness in the baby Jesus who lived among us and who died for us.
Next month we will be looking closer at that cure through the words of our confession of faith, the creed.