In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:
There is a story about a schoolboy who was asked what he thought God was like. He replied that, as far as he could make out, God was ‘the sort of person who is always snooping around to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it’. And I am afraid that is the sort of idea that the word Morality raises in a good many people’s minds: something that interferes, something that stops you having a good time. In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine. Every moral rule is there to prevent a breakdown, or a strain, or a friction, in the running of that machine.
In this latest sermon series, Ten Words for Life, we have been focused on the Ten Commandments and whether they are still relevant for our lives. So often we think of rules as restrictions. C.S Lewis hits on this truth in the above quote. If we think of these commandments as restrictions or as rules we must follow or else God will be upset with us, I believe we have missed the point.
The greatest teachings of Scripture are those that are simple to understand yet have a profound effect on our lives. Jesus said, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” That’s my paraphrase, but it’s familiar to you. He also said that the greatest commandment is to “love God with everything we have,” and the second was like it: “to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” These simple commands offer profound guidelines to lead our moral decisions and create a healthy, happy society. They are simple and yet have never been improved upon. They are easier to understand than to live, but they offer a path to good relationships and personal well-being.
The Ten Commandments are intended to have the same effect. They are not simply arbitrary rules that “good boys and girls” will follow “because God said so.” They offer divine wisdom on how to live life in the best way possible. To be the kind of person who honors God first, does not lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, envy or covet others, and who honors one’s parents is to be a person who is content, healthy, and happy.
Rather than doling out rules to squelch our fun, God intended these Ten Commandments to give us clear directions for living the fullest, most blessed life possible. When you think about it, we would expect no less than this kind of wisdom from God.