I’ve been following a journaling guide to Jesus’ Two Great Commandments for the last three weeks and it has been a rich journey into my relationship to God and its benefits in my life, its blessings and challenges.** Amazingly, this week I suddenly realized as I was journaling that the Lord had been leading me through the 10 Commandments over the last four decades and I’ve come to see that the last six from “Honor your parents” to not coveting anything that your neighbor has are the true test of our love for God. Add to that the first four: No other gods, no graven images, no misuse of the name of God and remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy and we have all the basic rules of loving God.
One of the first things I remember God saying to me was this “How can I say I love God if I can’t love my mother?” I have written before about how I tried unsuccessfully for two years after I heard God questioning my love for Him; I just couldn’t bring myself to love her until God just surrounded us with a cloud of love and it was done. So He took care of Commandment #5.
Since my husband died in 2001, the Lord has been challenging me on my lack of love for others. Trips to Haiti twice, to Mexico twice, interviewing for Crisis Assistance Ministry here in Charlotte, and all the books He has had me read have broken down the walls of white privilege in me that kept me from experiencing the pain and suffering in the world and in our own country. He has undermined and healed my judgments of others, my prejudices, my attachments to my own ways and desires, and much more. Now I can feel the pain of others and identify with the suffering. This blog that I write and the books, too, all address these last five commandments and of course the first five, too.
For the proof of our love of God lies in how we treat every other human being on this earth, bar none, including ourselves. Do we treat ourself and them, all of them, with the fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and humility(self-control)? [Gal 5:22-23] Or not? If every human being is made in the image of God[Gen 1:27] and is His son or daughter, then how are we, how am I, doing in loving them, all of them?
It was Jesus who laid out the subtleties of the Ten Commandments. He went beyond murder, theft, lies, adultery, envy and greed to add in more subtle layers of anger, lust, resistance to an evil person, love for our enemies, worry about anything, and judgment. [Matt 5-7] So for Jesus, the law was beyond the crimes of murder and thievery and lies and greed to the very subtle ways we humans turn our backs on other people. He is commanding us to have real love for everyone we meet, regardless of how our very culturally conditioned minds might see them.
The understanding that I gained this week about this journey in Christ has astounded me. I gave my life to Christ almost forty years ago. And three days ago was the first time I understood the breadth of this journey in me. I am not saying I’ve reached success or perfection in following the Ten Commandments, but that I have come a long way which I could not have done by myself at all. Only God can lead us through the deepest regions of our being.
As the Lord has brought me closer to Him and held me all these years, he has also brought me more and more into His will for me. A few years back I decided to follow the lead of my daughter and her husband in keeping the Sabbath Day holy by doing no work. This has been a joy and a big chance for relaxation with nothing on the agenda for the day other than worship and rest; I have so enjoyed the opportunity to rest. And another commandment addressed!
Then there have been all the “idols” that I have been attached to like status and a good reputation and material things and every other thing that our culture desires for us. As Anthony de Mello, Jesuit author of The Way to Love, puts it,
“You falsely think that your fears protect you, your beliefs have made you what you are and your attachments make your life exciting and secure. You fail to see that they are actually a screen between you and life’s symphony…if your spirit becomes unclogged and your senses open you will begin to perceive things as they really are and to interact with reality and you will be entranced by the harmonies of the universe. Then you will understand what God is, for you will at last know what love is.”
More and more every day I listen to God’s wisdom. How can I not? He has made my life so fulfilling, so purposeful, so joyful, so full of peace. I would do whatever He asks of me, because I know that He is always there to help me accomplish the task, the attitude, the whatever. He is the pilot of the airplane I call my life, and I am the more than willing co-pilot. He suggests; I do. He challenges me, I pray. He leads me beside the “still waters;” I am quiet. In everything I say and do, He is there in ways that often surprise me, but which I also have come to expect. Thanks be to God!
**I developed this 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments, but it really is the work of the Holy Spirit. I plan to make it available in the new year to anyone who is interested in writing what is on his or her heart and soul which is prompted by a daily Bible verse. It’s a 10-week course that in my experience reveals and revels in this journey with God as we deeply experience it, but rarely acknowledge consciously. If you are interested, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. When the guide is ready to be emailed, I will contact you. The fee will be $5.
Questions to ponder over the week: How has the Lord brought me into alignment with the Ten Commandments? What attitudes and prejudices has He healed in me? What is left in me to give up to His transformative skills? How am I experiencing my relationship to God right now?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who follow the Ten Commandments and their subtler cousins of no judgment, prejudice, lust and more. May we show God our love for Him in how we treat all our neighbors. May we solely, soulfully be love in this world.
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 Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love, Image Books, Doubleday, New York, 1991, pp. 46-47