Lenten Devotional 2021: Day 23

Thursday, March 11 – Written by Jack Grady

The Ten Commandments Exodus 20:1-17

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

I remember as a child that my world was filled with love. That love also included rules and boundaries; some I tested and others I accepted as being the way things were. My teen years became an even greater boundary testing ground as I discovered new, exciting things about the world and my place in it, always with an eye on “the rules.” Like most of my friends, I knew about the Ten Commandments, but I admit they were not part of my deep thought. In university, while digging into the complexities of academic research, I began to put the Commandments into a frame of reference that caused me to delve deeper into their significance, not only as guideposts for living the right life, but as freedom giving strictures towards a more purposeful life.

Later, as a parent, I found myself passing on the same rules and boundaries for our children’s lives. I’m sure they rolled their eyes when they heard me say: “Remember who you are and whose you are.” Isn’t this much like what the Decalogue counsels us?

I found an even deeper meaning to the Ten Commandments in Brian McLaren’s We Make the Road by Walking where he says that the Exodus was not only about taking the people out of slavery, but it was also about taking slavery out of the people. He suggests that the Decalogue breaks boundaries by freeing us from an enslavement to Pharaoh’s vision of a “top-down” society of elites versus those who must serve them. Instead these rules give us a world based upon equality and security.

How can one set of rules free us from another? There is something particular here that calls to us when we contemplate and meditate on these commandments during Lent. It is freeing to have precepts that guide us on our faith journey. The lead up to Maundy Thursday and the cross is a journey that challenges us to face our own weaknesses and how we can address them. The strength and direction offered through the Commandments gives us a moral compass to direct our thoughts and actions to the forgiveness so freely given on Calvary.

Libraries of books have been written about these simple mandates but, ultimately, they stand on their own as the foundation upon which Western civilization has been founded. Their simplicity hides a very deep truth: God is our creator and sustainer.

Thus, while the commandments may be seen as guideposts to behaviour, they are much more than that as we move inexorably towards Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. They are the direct words of God pointing us in the direction of the cross.

Prayer: Loving and gracious God, let Your words guide us as we journey through Lent seeking to strengthen our faith and become humble, obedient servants to Your world. Amen.