I’m just going to put this out there and hope that if you have read my blog for a while you know my heart and can know that I am on a journey just like any of you and this is helping me to become closer to God.
Over our Thanksgiving trip I had great conversations about grace and love. We can become victims of our religious upbringing, and it can stifle our growth, and then something like this conversation can reveal the heart of the matter and free us of stuff that we have hung on to.
Think about the bible and all the things that it records, then think about what Jesus said it ALL boils down to. All of the law boils down to this, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.” I know that many things in the bible are dictated by the culture of the time. I also know that the bible in its entirety was inspired by God. It was inspired into imperfect men. The only part of the bible written by God’s finger, the 10 commandments. Not that we can’t pull the beneficial from the entire bible, because we know that it is ALL a benefit to us, however, I want to focus on the 10 and the one the 10 boil down to.
You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.
You shall not make yourself any graven image [to worship it] or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; You shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, But showing mercy and steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
You shall not use or repeat the name of the Lord your God in vain[that is, lightly or frivolously, in false affirmations or profanely]; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
[Earnestly] remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (withdrawn from common employment and dedicated to God).
Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you.
You shall not commit murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not witness falsely against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Now, if you take those ten commandments and follow them earnestly, and then you take Jesus’ command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27, you will be doing what you need to do to live the best life that you can live. The overflow of just that, will be placing God first and loving ALL the people around you.
Here is the analogy that really struck me. There are many people who don’t eat pork because they are restricted by their religious code to do so. They have taken that from the old testament and held on to it. However, I don’t hold to that because the dream that John was given was that all things were permissible. That is left to interpretation and if I am wrong I am counting on God’s grace, and if those who hold to it are wrong, they should also count on His grace. We cannot judge one another on those things that we hold to or don’t. We also cannot say that in Heaven there will be no homosexuals, no murderers, no liars, no, you fill in the blank. Yes, they will all be in their forgiven, perfected, selves, but in their former earth suits, this is what they were. Judgement is only going to push the un-saved farther from us and our goal in life should be to bring all men into relationship with God. How can we do that when we are bickering over all the messiness of each other? And so, while the entire bible is definitely good for us, beneficial in all ways, we need to change our focus to ourselves, follow the 10, love each other, love God and give grace in abundance. I think when we do this we will find that it is easier to embrace one another and to embrace ourselves in light of how God sees us.