Second Friday in Advent: Living Right

Tonight we read the 10 Commandments. The Hebrews were free; they had never lived without someone giving them directions. God comes and gives Moses instructions for the people (they're never numbered or labeled in the Bible). He gives them boundaries for living in freedom; boundaries for living in harmony with God, with neighbor and with family.

Often time we view the commandments--or any of God's laws--as a list of don'ts. A list of kill-joys. What if, instead, we looked at them as loving boundaries to help us enjoy life more? What if "don't commit adultery" was actually a boundary for having a healthy marriage (as well as honoring others' marriages)? What if "don't give false testimony" was instruction for us to protect others and ourselves from the harmful effects of lying? What if "don't make idols" kept us from selling our hearts to things that won't last?

At the end of Moses' reading of the commandments, there is this little dialog between him and the people:

And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”

“Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” (Exodus 20:19-20)

The people are afraid of God talking to them. Moses paradoxically tells them not to be afraid, but to remain fearful of God in order that they live right.

As we wait in Advent, we anticipate Christ's coming. We long to be able to talk directly with Him. We know we don't need to be afraid. After all, He came as a baby. One of us. Lowly and humble.

But maybe we need to regain some of the healthy fear. Not that we live in constant fear of obeying God so that we don't get punished, but a healthy fear like what occurs in a healthy relationship between parent and child. The child obeys the parent's instructions ("drive safely," "don't go to that party," "be home by eleven") because they know their parent gives them those directions out of love--that they want them to live well.

So, in the midst of waiting, as we look at how Christ calls us to live, let us look at God's commands as ways He shows His love to us. And let us obey, not out of fear, but out of love fore Him as well.

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