“Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do away with them but to fulfill them.”
Matthew 5:17 CEB
-Rev Melissa Fain-
We must pick up the Hebrew Bible for the sake of fulfillment. It is very difficult to understand the New Testament without these early books. It must be done before we move further into our wilderness.
The Ten Commandments remain a piece of the Old Testament we can easily pull into our Christian context. We can unite under these simple truths. Don’t murder. Don’t get caught up with the stuff your neighbor has. Don’t make false idols. Don’t put anything before God’s eyes… What was that? You don’t remember that commandment? It’s right there, right before the idol commandment. What we are used to reading is,
“You must have no other gods before me.”
(Exodus 20:3 CEB)
As a child, it confused me that we separated this commandment with the nixing idols commandment. They sound exactly the same. In an important way, they are connected. Both have to do with worship. The idol commandment is about worshiping something other than God. Early on, this would be, don't go to other temples, or raise up Golden Cows, or worship Ba'al. That sort of thing. This “no other gods before me” is directly related to what we bring in to worship our God.
Quite literally, we are not supposed to bring anything but our worship and adoration before God. This commandment is discussing the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant. God’s home. When we come to God’s house, we are coming only to visit God. Now, I’ll be the first to say it is difficult to understand what is adoration and worship, and what is not. Do we worship and adore God with music? If so, what kind? Do we worship and adore God with our fellowship? What about the sermon? Is it worship and adoration? When we don’t come at the Holy of Holies with particular care, almost anything could find itself in a worship, because almost anything can be justified.
This is yet another reason why we are beginning with nothing. Did you know that while the general Protestant Church has been dying to oblivion, the Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, and Catholic Church have all been growing? These traditions would tell you it’s because there earlier understanding of the Truth is the correct one. When I read or hear from those who have chosen one of these faith traditions, this is what they generally say, “It’s not that I really believe the reason why they do what they do, but they know what they do.” In other words, if you approached a Catholic Priest, after Mass, and begun asking why certain objects were in the room, he’d be able to tell you. If you were to ask an Eastern Orthodox Priest why they do each aspect of worship, he’d be able to tell you. If you asked a Protestant why they do a Call to Worship, sit during certain times, and stand at other times… I doubt the minister could even really explain why anymore.
When we can no longer explain why what we are doing is worship to God, we might not be worshipping God anymore. At least, that’s what all these “nones” (The group of people who believe in God but cannot find themselves going to church) conclude. Why we do things is just, if not more, important than what we do.