Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Christian Faith: The Basics, Part 2

The other day, my wife and I were in one of those appliance superstores to look at washers and dryers. I walked by a door that led to the stock area. Through a window, I could see a bustling place with appliances stacked to the ceiling. Above the door was a sign that said, "For the safety of our customers, employees only beyond this point."

A few moments later, we heard an enormous crash coming from the stock section. We learned that an associate had dropped a fridge off of a forklift. The wisdom of that sign was underscored.

Sometime in the fifteenth-century BC, a people recently freed from slavery in Egypt made their way--slowly--across a wilderness to a land they believed--or tried to believe--that God would give to them.

More than five-centuries earlier, God had entered into a covenant with the patriarch and matriarch of these Hebrew people, Abraham and Sarah. He promised to make them the ancestors of a great people, a people who would have their own land and through whose faithfulness God would shine a light on the entire world. The Old Testament says that when Abraham believed God's promise, God overlooked Abraham's sin and counted his belief as righteousness. (See here and here.)

In spite of the 430-years that the descendants of Abraham and Sarah spent as slaves in Egypt, God never forgot His promises...or His love for His people. After God got them out of Egypt, during their wilderness wandering, God's hand-picked leader, Moses, met with God on top of Mount Sinai. There, God gave him--and the human family--what we call "the ten commandments." (See here.)

Often, the commandments are portrayed as restrictive rules. But they're no more restrictive than that sign in the appliance superstore was. It was there to protect unprotected customers from falling Maytags!

God's commandments establish boundaries, to be sure. But they also positively define the territory within which life is good, the way our maker designed life to be. They say "No" to some things in order to make it possible for us to say "Yes!" to the best things.

More on the commandments in the next post of this series.

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