Ten Commandments

How to Know You’re Good

How to Know You’re Good

How good are you? That is a question we all wrestle with in different ways and at different times. But we almost all answer it with the same methodology: comparison. But if the age of social media has taught us anything, hasn’t it taught us how destructive comparison is? Hasn’t it shown us that comparison reveals the basest version of ourselves? Hasn’t social media taught us how fragile and finicky the rubric of comparison is?

How then can we know how good we really are? Maybe the answer lies in some time-tested standard outside of ourselves and outside of our neighbor? Maybe there is a standard outside ourselves to evaluate ourselves by.

Shining Idols: A Rejected Covenant

Shining Idols: A Rejected Covenant

Last week we started considering how idolatry might still be alive and well in us today.

To do so, we took ourselves back to the most famous incident of idolatry in the Bible: the golden calf.[i] The Israelites created the golden calf at the very time God is giving Moses the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments capture God’s covenant with his people. God declares, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”[ii]  The covenant begins with a statement of who God is: he is the saving God, the rescuing God. God then promises that his covenant is exclusive. In weddings the pastor asks the groom, do you promise to “love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?” And then he turns to the bride and asks her a similar set of questions. A marriage covenant is exclusive. In it we relinquish our authority. So is our covenant with God.

As she creates the golden calf, Israel rejects the covenant and takes her authority back. The covenant that was made with God is now broken. Israel is an adulteress. As pastor Tim Keller once said, “We never break the other commandments without breaking the first one.”[iii]

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      What I Learned About Marriage by Losing My Husband: Good luck not tearing up reading Gaye Clark's poignant letter to her deceased husband.

2.      Be a Gospel Neighbor: Aaron Menikoff on a topic I think is so important for the church, "The requirement for hospitality gets to the heart of neighboring. It’s even a qualification of elder leadership... Paul has a similar message in Romans 12:13–14: “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Paul demands a spirit of generosity to all: the brother or sister, the stranger, and even the enemy! Faithful pastors and Christians alike will strive to be good neighbors. They’ll open up their homes to people around them. Such hospitality is not without cost (it takes time and money)."

3.      Which of the Ten Commandments Still Apply? YouGov and Deseret News reports that 60% of Americans agree that seven of the Ten Commandments still apply. The three below 60%? "You shall have no other gods before me," "You shall not use the name of the Lord your God in vain," and "Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy" (the only commandment below 50%). 

4.      What Dostoyevsky's Prostitute Can Teach Us About Love: If you've ever read Crime and Punishment (which I recently had the joy of re-reading), this is powerful connection between the cross and the book. Mark Galli connects Sonia's reaction to the Christ, "Raskolnikov later meets a young woman, Sonia, who has been compelled by poverty to become a prostitute to support her family. He is immediately drawn to her, and after he learns that Sonia had been friends with Lizaveta, he feels compelled to confess his murders to her... When it dawns on her what he has just confessed, “...What have you done—what have you done to yourself?” she said in despair, and, jumping up, she flung herself on his neck, threw her arms round him, and held him tightly." Raskolnikov is not the only one who is shocked by Sonia’s gesture. The reader is as well... There we see the meaning of the Cross and the revelation of the deepest nature of God. Jesus did not consider the glory of divinity as something to exalt in, but decided to bear the yoke of human nature. He showed himself not only to be a man of sorrows, but also a God who has borne our griefs; not merely a man wounded for our transgression, but also a God bruised for our iniquities (Isa. 53). He saw the grievous sin of humankind, and the Cross is the sign of his “violent, hysterical weeping” for us."

5.      Death Valley Sunup to SundownThink Death Valley is ugly? Think again. This is stunning.