The 10 Commitments….
A woman worked at a large bookstore and was often amused by the combinations of books customers choose. She found it particularly funny when a customer approached the checkout counter one day with two best sellers. The first was “Conversations with God”. The second? “How to Argue and Win Every Time”.
Kind of an example of our relationship with God…we wish for a relationship, but on our terms? Right?
We forget that we are not so much human beings trying to become spiritual. We’re already inherently spiritual beings and our job is learning how to be good humans! Maybe that’s why Jesus came as a human being: not to teach us how to get to heaven, but to teach us how to be a fully alive human here on this earth.
And that is what the 10 Commandments were and ARE meant to do…teach us how to get along…with the God of our understanding and with others trying to do the very same thing.
When we think of the word, commandments, we may wonder if God’s laws are designed to curb our free expression. “But just laws are for our protection and growth, not for our restriction and oppression.”
Jesus, our Way-shower, taught that God is a just, kind, and loving Father. God’s laws, therefore, are just laws designed to bring forth our good, not to keep our good from us.
We can liken life to a superhighway. God’s laws are like the rules of the road, designed to make our journey safe and pleasant. The highway is smooth and straight, and we travel over it happily when we follow the directions. We have a free choice in the matter, but we know that when we elect to heed the warning signs and obey the traffic laws our journey becomes a delightful experience. So it is with the commandments. When we cooperate with these just laws, our way in life is joyous and satisfying and brings us spiritual unfoldment.
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical laws relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The commandments include a variety of instructions. Different religious groups follow different traditions for interpreting and numbering them.
Did you know that the Ten Commandments appear twice in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. Modern scholarship is divided over exactly when the Ten Commandments were written and who wrote them.
The Hebrew words are translated as “the ten words”, “the ten sayings”, or “the ten matters”.
One scholar reasons that these 10 words were given in the wilderness instead of within one country’s borders so that they are intended for all peoples, not one nation, not one generation but ALL nations and ALL generations.
If I told you these are really our freedoms, not our restrictions; our commitments, not commandments, would you understand what that means?
We’ve talked about this…if you have contemplated how you wish to BE as you interact in life, your integrity, ….then it is easy to make choices…because as you interact with your world, your established integrity kicks in and reminds you of what you have established as your Spiritual guidelines, how you wish to behave in the world, how you interact.
The ‘10 words’ can do that also…So the word ‘commandment’ is really not how we want to look at these words of guidance.
God does not order about what God has created, God merely tells God’s children; this is how you will know you are coming home
It is important to note that Jesus was not born fully mature: “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40)
And so we grow into our Spiritual life also.
Behind every one of the ’10 words’s an underlying sublime affirmation of a basic principle of religion and morality.
SO, lets look at how we might see them differently from when we grew up to today.
The first Commandment…
I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Pretty straight forward. And we might think, fairly easy.
I am the Lord your God is an affirmative declaration of the dominion of the Almighty over the universe and that authority as the Lawgiver. This commandment implies that we must accept the sovereignty of God, that this Divine Spirit has created everything that exists, and watches over the destinies of all creatures. You shall have no other gods implies that God is unique and the only God. To worship other divinities would mean that we reject the imperative character of the first affirmation
There is only one God Who is the only presence and the only power. Isn’t that what we say in the 1st Principle? “There is only one presence and one power, God the Good.”
This means that we are to recognize no power other than good (God). We identify ourselves with good through affirming our oneness with it.
AS the story goes, Moses received these guidelines from God on Mt. Sinai…take that metaphysically, Moses went up, to his higher consciousness. And he is told “I AM THAT I AM” is sending him these words.
I AM THAT I AM…notice it’s not a definition, it’s not an explanation of ‘who God is.” God cannot be defined…that would limit something that cannot be limited. To define God is to deny God.
I am the one who is and will always be.
I AM is your true self…no one else can say I AM for you…have you noticed that? Try it……. Only you can say it. That is the Presence of God within you, your indwelling Christ, your higher Self. And ANYTHING you attach to I AM…anything you say or think after those two words with conviction, you are claiming as you.
So, watch your words….watch your thoughts.
Now let’s look at this set of words from a different perspective…
In book 1 of The Conversations with God Series, “God” through Neale Donald Walsh gives us different feel for these words. It is a Commitment. What’s the difference between a ‘commandment’ and a ‘commitment’?
A commandment is the act or power of commanding, to have or exercise authority or control over; be master of;
A Commitment is a pledge or promise; obligation.
Walsh uses Jesus’ words for his Commitment: “you shall love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul”. And there shall be no other God.
Here’s the important thing —– “No longer will you worship human love, or success, money, or power, nor any symbol thereof. You will set aside these things as a child sets aside toys. Not because they are unworthy, but because you have outgrown them.”
“When we satiate the senses on order to avoid the taste of life in all its raw and unmarinated potential, when we make sensual satisfactions – drugs and alcohol, sex and physical comfort—our gods in order to damp the pain of living, we only live the shell of a life.” – Joan Chittister
Think about that…what have you released because it no longer serves you…who have you released because they no longer are a part of your spiritual journey? WE did releasing through the Burning Bowl. What or who should you be releasing now?
When one believes in many gods, he cannot have faith in the one true god. One cannot be dual minded and have faith in the One Power and One Presence. For any allegiance and loyalty pledged to something or someone, we subtract that much faith in and fidelity to God.
“Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”. Luke 20:25
Look through your life, can you say what is Caesar’s and what is God’s?
One more way to see these words through different eyes, let’s look at the ‘words’ as a Challenge.
A challenge is defined as a call or summons to engage in any contest something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc.; a demand to explain, justify.
In his book “The Ten Challenges: Spiritual Lessons from the Ten Commandments for Creating Meaning, Growth, and Richness Every Day of Your Life;” Leonard Felder presents this version of the first of the ‘10 words’
Challenge “I am the One who is and will always be, your God, who can bring you out of a narrow way of seeing things, out of your enslavements and worries….who has helped you in the past and who cares about your freedom.”
Felder says, “the first commandment is a request from God for each of us to decide whether we believe in and want to be partners with the Infinite One.”
I am Spirit; I am All That Is. Nothing exists that is not part of Me, and nothing that is not part of me can exist. Nothing can be higher or lower than Me; I am the sum total, and product, and range of All That Is.
Yet, all of us have more than one god if we would ever admit it. It has taken most of this lifetime to understand that all life can only come from one source….
The power of the commandment lies in the fact that it calls us back to remember what is really ultimate, really important in life. Joan Chittister
What this commandment truly sought to represent was an affirmation of Spirit as the One Life; that all of Creation is of this One Life, and that nothing higher nor lower could exist. Because we are of Spirit, we too are Divine, and no other gods can exist before us, or any other being of Spirit.
It is not a commandment of denial and subjugation, but one destined to awaken all of Humanity to the knowledge of its own Divinity and of claiming its birthright. Placing anything external to your Divine Self in greater power is to deny yourself your personal connection to the One Life, the source of all Love and Creative Power, and thus to deny your Divinity and your birthright.
Take care of you, you are Divine.
Blaise Pascal – “It is the heart that experiences God, and not reason.”