It's been a while since I've shared a sermon here. We are in the midst of a Lenten Series called Rehab.
Most rehabs usually have some type of program to be followed. If you are in an addiction rehab, you have the 12-step program, cardiac and physical rehab has specific exercises or activities in their program and we as Christians have a program to follow too. It’s a 10-step program and it’s what we are going to be thinking through today. God lays it all out for us easy to understand and yet, we often stumble, we often don’t quite get it.
Would you please pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
So, I’m sure you can guess what our 10-step program is, the Ten Commandments. This is a program that we, as Christians, need to be working every day. Now Jesus summed them all up in two sentences. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. If you do that you will, for the most part, be following the program but I think it’s important to really hone in on the 10 steps from time to time. They have a lot to do with our character and so this Rehab season is the perfect time for us to work on them.
So, let’s take a look at our 10 Steps.
Worship only the Lord God.
Don’t worship idols.
Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.
Honor your parents.
Do not commit murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not lie.
Do not covet what other people have.
Take a second to think about these, how are you doing? How are we as a community doing at following these steps?
Now let's jump right in.
No other Gods, no idols- well, as a community I don't think we are doing so well here. Money, drugs, alcohol, food, sports, guns even sometimes ourselves are all things we, as a society, worship.
Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. Oh, my goodness, how society fails here. And it’s not just in the form of cussing either. It’s when we use his name to stand behind so that we can ignore injustice; when we use his name as an excuse to not love others; when we use his name just to get ahead, to get elected, or to make money.
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. The purpose of the Sabbath is to slow down, pray, and meditate. It’s setting all other things aside, work, money, and everything else to find rest in time with God. How are you doing that each week as an individual? How are we as a community, as a society supporting this, encouraging this? This is another one I think that as a society we are failing.
Honor your parents. How are we doing at that one? How many parents are sitting in nursing homes just waiting for someone to come visit them? How many live alone in homes that are falling down around them? How many can’t afford to take their medicine every day and instead take half a dose or just take it every other day because they can’t afford it, or even just don’t take it because they can’t afford it? How are we as a society doing here?
Do not murder. That’s one most of us think we’ve got covered right? But how many people die because they can’t afford proper healthcare, nutritious foods, or housing? We avert our eyes to this, thinking they aren’t my problem, they should get another job, they should work harder and so on without really knowing their circumstances, we just assume. You know, mass shootings have become a regular occurrence lately. They can happen anywhere, schools, churches, movie theaters, malls. I heard this week that suicide is the number one cause of death among teens in Johnson County and just like the school shootings, many of those happen because of bullying. Bullying is often disguised as teasing. But teasing can hurt, a lot. And then we put our right to have a gun, a possible idol, over another person’s right to live. I’m not going to get into the gun debate here but I will ask, is it really so awful for it to be a little harder to get a gun? The people who need it immediately, probably don’t and do we really need for the everyday citizen to have a weapon that’s sole purpose is to kill in war?
Do not commit adultery. This is another one where most of us think we are doing OK, but are we really? I wonder if we need to rethink what it means to commit adultery. We hear more and more often of affairs among public figures, we hear way too often about sexual harassment and abuse. We excuse rape by teenage boys as boys just being boys. Promiscuity is rampant on TV and in movies. It’s glorified even. As a society how are we doing with adultery?
Do not steal, lie or covet. How are we doing with these three? I’m thinking not well. How often do we pass lies on social media? Share things without checking to see how true they are, just sharing them because it sounds awful or because we agree with it. We don’t even bother to check it we just click share. These days we have to have fact checkers to check the facts that our public figures share. And coveting? That’s rampant too! On social media, well everywhere! The grass is always greener over there. We have to try to keep up with so and so. They have something new, and we need something new too! But do we?
Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at any of these. In fact, that last one is one I struggle with a lot. I don’t think any of us are perfect at this but I wanted us to see how important it is for us to stay focused on these, to think about them more often. Most people as they begin a new program find it difficult to stay on track, they make mistakes. I think God surely knew how hard it would be to always get it right. He probably knew that these rules would be broken but maybe following the program isn’t about being perfect at it, maybe it’s more about working on our relationship with God and with one another. I see where working this program would help with our relationships in the world, in our neighborhood, in our families and yes, with God.
Here in a moment, we are going to choose just one of these steps to work on this week and I want to encourage us all to overtime work on them all, to take time to sit with each step and think about what we can do better and encourage others to do better too. We’re probably not going to get perfect, we are human after all but I really hope we will try. Amen.
Call to Work the Program
I want to invite you to write down at least one commandment you struggle or have struggled to keep over time, and one thing you will do start doing this week and keep doing to overcome the struggle and work this part of the program. I invite you to make two copies and give one copy to one other person with whom you will check in during the coming week to share how you have (or haven’t) made progress on the commandment you’re working on, and what has happened as a result.