Values for Community
September 4 – Values for Community
Read Deuteronomy 5:11
Eugene Peterson has many interesting insights about the Third Command in particular and all the Commands in general in his book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. (The word “plays” in the title means “moves” or “is effective in.”)
Peterson teaches that the Commands serve as “conditions necessary for a free, loving, and just community of God’s people to develop and flourish. The three adjectives – free, loving and just – are basic to community (p. 252).” In other words, living by the Commands not only benefits the individual, but it promotes a godly community.
And the Commands specifically benefit the community of faith. “Secular” society has thousands of laws to try to legislate proper conduct among its members, but legislating moral conduct can be a frustrating and futile experience when people in the society do not agree on the definition of morality (or even the need or it).
Words Mean Things
Consider Peterson’s idea that words come from God – “God is the one who gives meaning to our words, who determines life and everything in it. We do not give meaning to God; we cannot give emphasis or authority to who we are or what we are doing or saying by throwing in the name ‘God,’ no matter how impressive it sounds. When we reduce God to a name among other names, all names eventually become depersonalized, mere ciphers to identify others by function or role, without regard for the dignity and reverence inherent in every person and every thing. Eventually language itself loses its capacity for expressing wonder and adoration and intimacy and, most of all, belief and love (p. 255).”
In other words, when we bring the name of God down to the level of all other names, we have done the same thing that was forbidden in the Second Command – we have scaled God down to a size that we think we can understand and maybe even control. In addition, we have scaled down life in a way that displeases Him.
God is holy. God is majestic.
And words mean things. The way that we refer to God reveals what we believe about Him.
How does the way we refer to God reveal what we believe about Him?