Advertisement

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

When the Ten Commandments Break Us…

Actress Mackenzie Phillips confessed this week to a 10 year incestuous relationship with her father, pop superstar John Phillips. In an interview with Oprah, Phillips said of her father, “He was a man who lived in a world where the rules didn’t apply.”

Didn’t they? By her own confession the fact that her father broke “the rules” at her expense brought her nothing but pain, shame, and confusion. John Phillips might have pretended otherwise, but the sad results speak for themselves. Running headlong against the tide of common decency devastated his daughter’s life. In the end, we never break the laws of God, we simply demonstrate them.

Advertisement

This week, ABC’s “Nightline” begins a series of reports on “The Ten Commandments,” the fundamental life instructions handed down to us in the Jewish and Christian scriptures (Exodus 20). These, simple and straightforward boundaries around human behavior stipulate what “shall not” be in our lives – meaning that we’re free to do and be anything other than these 10 restrictions.

So what business is it of God to make rules and to hold us to them? Can we opt out? Can we, like John Phillips invent our own way of life?

It seems that there are two kinds of “laws.” One category is arbitrary and personally imposed and enforced. The other is descriptive and universal. When I was pulled over and ticketed for doing 47 in a 35-mile per hour zone a “law” was enforced by one of Minneapolis’ finest, and my bank account paid the price. This law was created and enforced by humans seeking to create a safe social environment. I chose to break that law; they chose to enforce it.

Advertisement

On the other hand, when I fell off a ladder last year no police officer came along to enforce the “law” of gravity. Gravity didn’t need enforcement help, and I paid the price with a twisted ankle. “Laws of nature” do not prescribe action, they describe action. I don’t break gravity, I demonstrate it.

The question here: Are the laws of God given as the Ten Commands the first or second type of law? Are they arbitrary decisions like a posted speed limit drafted and enforced personally, or are they descriptions of the way things are? 

I believe they are the latter. I don’t think it’s possible, in the end, to break the Ten Commands. Instead, if we go against them, they break us – Ala John and Mackenzie Phillips. We demonstrate their reality, we don’t, we can’t create our own reality.

Advertisement

God, the Designer has mercifully given us a manual explaining his engineering principles. When I bought new car I had the manufacturer’s guidebook in the glove box to tell me how often and with what products to change the oil. These are the “laws” for how the car was designed. I’m perfectly free to ignore them and put sand in my engine instead of 10w40. But I’ll pay the price. No engine-oil police come to arrest me for stupidity; the car will punish me itself.

In the same way God’s stipulations about sex, respecting other people’s stuff, telling the truth, maintaining balance in our schedules do not prescribe, they describe. I can ignore the fact I’m made to live with intervals of rest (as in “Keep the Sabbath”) but I’ll blow an emotional or physical gasket as a result. These laws are God’s way of mercifully telling us ahead of time how to manage the life he loans us.

Advertisement

There are two ways to learn life lessons: We experiment and learn from experience, or we listen and learn from other people’s experiences – better yet, from the ultimate Authority behind life itself game. Life is painfully short. By God’s good grace we can learn his ground rules from the start, assuming of course we resist the temptation to make up our own.

Here’s a prayer for strength to accept and apply God’s standards in our lives:

“God, we thank you for creating our lives and giving us the gift of choice. We thank you too that you have not left us alone, to learn by trial and error what will and what will not work. You have given us clear guidelines. They are not complicated, or long, or too restrictive. Give us the grace to know them, accept them as true, and the strength to keep them. We know that our impulse is to go our own way. We will in fact do that. When we break your laws, forgive us and cover the consequences, and instead, give us your strength to fulfill the very things you require of us. We ask you humbly to bless our lives. We ask for power to live as you have designed and intended. And we’ll thank you for the results!”

  • http://www.vitabits.fr/supplements/ sante

    Nice post. I have read the whole article. I’ll read this again and again.
    Wonderful thought in the last. God punishes us mildly by ignoring our prayers and severely by answering them.

Previous Posts

A Prayer to Stop Judging
"Even if I have sinned, that is my concern, not yours. You think you're better than I am..." ~ Job (Job 19:4,5) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged." ~Jesus (Matt. 7:1) "God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has ...

posted 3:46:41pm Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for An Extraordinary Life
"And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ." ~Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1) Often we look at the apostles in Scripture and wonder at their strength, productivity, diligence and power. We sigh and say, "No wonder they were able to move ...

posted 2:33:00pm Apr. 16, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for Our Future
The righteous keep moving forward... ~Job (from Job 17:9) I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead... ~Paul (Phil. 3:13) Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. ~Solomon ...

posted 3:54:42pm Apr. 14, 2015 | read full post »

A Prayer for Hope for the Hopeless
I pray that God, the source of HOPE, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident HOPE through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13) On any given day one out of ten people ...

posted 12:28:33pm Apr. 13, 2015 | read full post »

You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Blog is About You
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:21   Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of ...

posted 2:14:07pm Apr. 10, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.