For the Advent/Christmas retreat - A reflection on the Christian commandments



Today I would like to think about the Christian commandments together with you.
As an introduction, let me ask a question.
When you were little child, what kind of image did you have with parents?
Your father was like a bear? Your mother was like a tiger?
But after growing up, how about is your image with parents?
It must be changed. Why?
Because you have already understood your parents, and the relationship with them was changed.
For little you, your father might have been like a bear. For you it was fun, so he might have been your favorite.
But now, you realize he is working hard and he has difficulties in society and so on.
Therefore, you respect him now. He is no more like a bear. You have another image with him.
Second question;
In the early childhood, did you have own rules in your family?
For example, you will not be allowed to take supper before finishing assignments of school. You cannot watch TV beyond 2 hours a day. Don’t buy sweets and then eat them on the street. Etc.
What was the meaning of the rules for you at that time?
It was troublesome?
There is a simple little question of children what everyone must have had once.
That is, why don’t adults buy ice cream every day, even though they have a lot of money? After growing up, I will buy plenty of ice cream every day.
But actually we realize it is nonsense.
It’s a just dream of children. We know it’s bad for health.
In reality, our attitude to the rules was changed, because we know already why mother said, “Don’t eat sweets much.”
And the meaning of the rules was also changed.
Last question;
Why did/do you follow the rules?
“Rule is rule.”
“Rules must be followed because they are rules. Point is that, it is obligation.”
But in fact, you follow the rules because you love your family.
You know your father and mother love you, and you love them, therefore, you follow the rules. Following the rules is your response to the family. So if you have a good image or a good relationship with family, following the rules must be easy. But if you have a bad image or a bad relationship with it, it must be difficult.
Why? Because following the rules is your response to the family. Therefore, if you love family more and more, so following the rules becomes more meaningful, more significant and more reverent for you. You grow up, so the meaning of the rules also grows up.
Eventually, I tell you again, following the rules means the response in particular relationships.
It must be growing up. And it depends on images or relationships with objects.
We can say it is similar about the commandment of God.
Please read Gen. 2 and Ex. 20.
“Yahweh God took Man and placed him in the garden of Eden to till it and take care of it. Then Yahweh God gave an order to Man saying, “You may eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will not eat, for on the day you eat of it, you will die.” (Gen.2:15-17)
“I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. –Do not …etc.” (Ex. 20)
We are usually misunderstanding about the commandment. For us it is something dry or something cold. Sometimes we feel it that it is troublesome.
“I know that, but I cannot. Don’t bother me!”
But gazing structure of the above, we can find some points.
God never tells us only just commandment. At first he shows or tells us his mercy and grace, AFTER THAT he tells his commandment.
“Yahweh God took Man and placed him in the garden of Eden.” And he said,” You may eat of every tree.”
God prepared everything and put Adam on the center of the garden. It means God put him on the middle of his grace, blessing and respect. And God told him only one commandment to get better relationship with him.
Through the following of this commandment, the relationship between God and Adam must be growing up. This relationship must be richer and deeper.
Then we will throw eyes on Exodus.
At first God said, “I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
God reminds people of his salvation, mercy and compassion. AFTER THAT he tells commandment. –Do not …etc.
Brothers and sisters, you already know the Ten Commandments, but original meaning of Hebrew (literal translation) is like this:
If you know who I am, you could not (must) ……
(1. If you know who I am, you could not have other gods before me.
4.If you know who I am, you must remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. And so on.)
God was saying, “You already know me. You already experienced my salvation. So I give you the commandments. And through following the commandments, the relationship between you and I must be growing up, it must be richer and deeper.”
Therefore, following the commandments is the response to God’s grace/salvation.
To follow the commandments, we need the relationship with God. First of all we must know his grace and his salvation. Thus, we must know who God is. We must experience them. Following God’s commandments is the response to God’s grace in personal and particular relationship with God, with others and with community.
So following the commandments is something beyond moral issues.
If you have no friendship with God, in other words, if you don’t know who God is, thus, if you don’t experience God’s grace/salvation, following his commandments means nothing.
Following his commandments is your confession about God. You show that who God is to others. It is witness about God’s grace, God’s compassion and God’s salvation to others.
So it means a mission. Not showing ourselves, but showing God’s grace.
How did Jesus tell us concerning his commandment?
“Now I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ( Jn13:34-35)
The spirit of Jesus’ new commandment, the spirit of the Ten Commandments and the spirit of all God’s commandments, they are one.
First of all, God loved us so much. And God is saying in the commandments, “If you are going to realize who I am, you could respond to me. Therefore, I gave you my commandments. I am expecting your response. Through that, the relationship between you and I must be growing up. I hope it very much from my heart. And by following my commandments, you will confess who I am to others as the witness of my love. So you will become my friend, my people and my disciple, so that others also become my friends, my peoples and my disciples.
I would like to show just one example.
There is a couple. The husband gives a ring to his wife on her birthday.
But if she says, “thank you for your present. But on next my birthday, please give me more expensive one.” He must be disappointed. Sometimes our life or our prayer is like this. But if this wife prepares a special dinner for him as a response, he must be very happy. He doesn’t expect rewards, but he must be delighted with her response. This dinner is gorgeous or not, it doesn’t matter much. It isn’t his first concern. He respects the relationship with his wife.
We can say same thing about God’s commandments.
Following the commandments is not only just obligation.
Why we feel something troublesome with the commandments? We don’t realize God’s grace enough. So we must realize this first. And if though this husband doesn’t like sweets, and then, his wife prepares plenty of ice cream as response, it is not proper. She must prepare good qualitied beer, for example.
We must also realize what God loves, what God hates. The commandments lead us into this knowledge. Through following the commandments, we will experience about God more and more. And our image of God must be richer and more proper. Our response or our friendship with God must be developed.
This is reason why we observe the commandments.
We are seeking to know God, to know others and to know ourselves.
In community, among others, may God strengthen the friendship with God and the friendship with others, and may God lead us into the growth. Amen.


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