Archive for Ten Commandments
Yesterday I heard a young person question whether she still believed in the Bible. Things had been tough lately, and she raised the question that many people of faith, particularly Christians and Jews, do every day. As one who’s loved the Bible and read it on a daily basis, I took the opportunity to be brutally honest with myself: Did I still believe in the Bible, or was I just going through the motions?
Other questions arose. What exactly IS the Bible? Is it something you can believe or not believe in? Or is the Bible like an incredible opportunity for instruction, a life line of learning available for everyone, although we may not avail ourselves of it. Here were my thoughts:
The Bible is not merely a book or even The Good Book. It’s more accurately a library of books, including fiction and non-fiction, depending on your particular religious viewpoint. It’s history, poetry, sayings, stories, sermons, letters, prophecies, healings and more. The Bible includes many authors, some unknown, and therefore many perspectives. The one thing these ancient writers have in common is that all are concerned with infinite Good, commonly called God, and our relationship to Him. Understanding this relationship is revealed to be crucial to our health, happiness and well-being as individuals and societies. This consistent spiritual perspective makes the Bible virtually unique among libraries.
The Bible makes no pretense that its central characters are all saints. Far from it! Some are liars, cheats, adulterers and murderers. Just ask Jacob, King David and Judas about that. But others are moral leaders, givers, forgivers and healers. See Moses, Esther, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Paul and of course Jesus for these accounts. Even better, the “bad actors” are often transformed and redeemed into fine and noble people through their growing understanding of infinite Good, or God, a source outside themselves. See some of the same people for inspiring proof of this: Jacob, King David, Peter, and Paul.
So, does the God of the Bible first cause all this evil and then act to forgive it or heal it? I’ll leave that to sincere seekers to debate. But a powerful clue is at the beginning in Genesis I where God created everything and it was all good, like Him. Genesis II tells us how we left that wonderful truth and gave power to all kinds of fearful, sinful and even evil ways. The remaining books of the Bible go on to show us how to work our way out of these sorry states, finding blessing and healing when we do. Full salvation.
One thing for sure. The writers of the Bible wanted very much to share their life-changing experiences in healing and redemption with us. They recorded them for our benefit. They had learned, sometimes through unwavering faith and understanding, other times through suffering, the wonderful laws of a God who is Love itself. Studying their stories, teachings and healings has brought health and restoration to countless readers, as many of my friends, family and I can testify. The Bible has saved us many a time.
So maybe the question is not, do I believe in the Bible? But rather, does the Bible believe in me?
Indeed, I believe, it does.
So you won’t catch me whining about others’ choices as I decide to drink only Martinelli’s sparkling cider– or heavens, even a Shirley Temple this New Year’s Eve. No, I say a good Christian attitude (or Christian Scientist’s attitude in this case) is to live and let live.
Which leads me to why I prefer an alcohol-free lifestyle. We Christian Scientists value clear thinking and the ability to respond quickly and compassionately in our daily lives. As our discoverer Mary Baker Eddy puts it, “The time for thinkers has come.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pref. vii) Because Christian Scientists find solutions to virtually all problems through prayer, they want to be “prayed up” 24/7 insofar as possible. Prayer, clear thinking and quick, compassionate responses are not helped by alcohol, even the little bit in a glass of wine. So you may not find us indulging that way.
Still, we wish everyone a happy, merry and prosperous New Year. And we’ll be celebrating alongside of family, friends and neighbors in our own way. If you come to our homes, please accept a cup of simple cider or pure eggnog and let’s raise a glass together for peace on earth in 2012. Now there’s a toast to bring all us jolly folks to our feet. And nobody can deny.
Do men inevitably behave badly? No. And plenty of women do the same in any case. But that’s not the point, if reading over recent names like Weiner, Edwards, Spitzer, Ensign and Schwarzenegger is any clue. We have adulterers, liars, cheaters, exhibitionists and “sexters” here. All men! It makes us recoil. And these are only some of the names in the last few weeks and months.
It doesn’t get better here in our church-going community-minded South, either. North Carolina legislators Don East and Stan Bingham bragged and joked about a joy ride of over 145 mph in a 65 mph zone, barely hours after a highly publicized story reported three local teen aged boys killed in a high speed automobile accident. The teens would have graduated just days later.
Speed, sex, more speed and more sex seem to be the temptations and downfall of men, not women. Some psychologists say it’s in their natures, and traditional religion confirms this by saying we’re all born sinners. But Christian Science takes a different view: mankind (men and women) are precious to God, who is “of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” He is incapable of creating evil and we reflect Him, so it’s our right and responsibility to demonstrate freedom from these animal tendencies. The Christ example of compassion encourages us, redeems us, and strengthens our sincere efforts to be who we were created to be.
Former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, a North Carolinian, is still a father of four innocent children: Cate, Jack, Emma Claire and now Frances Quinn. As a widower, he is now also a single parent. Edwards can measure up as a dad, and so can the others, with every decision he makes from now on. Society needs these men to be better and their children need that right away. Fathers Day would be a good day for all to take the pledge.
Over 25 million people watch the Fox reality show American Idol which is a personality/singing competition. The winner is chosen by viewers and is awarded a recording contract and platform to become a star. The American Idol TV show is only in its tenth season. But there have been plenty of popular idols worshiped throughout history. Some idols have been created or chosen by the people while others claim the title by right or force.
A story in Bible history shows the value of not getting mesmerized with idol or people worship. The third chapter of the Book of Daniel tells the story of when King Nebuchadnezzar decided to force his people in Babylon to worship a gigantic golden image that he’d created. When three Jews in high government service refused to worship the idol, the king had them thrown into a combustible fiery furnace. When the three men were given a last minute chance to change their stance, they emphatically declared their allegiance to only serving God and never worshiping any man-made idol. In the furnace they went! But the story doesn’t end with their utter destruction. Instead, they came out of that furnace completely intact and without even the smell of smoke on them. If that’s the kind of protection offered when serving God, why would we ever want to worship an idol?
Of course it’s fun to root for the American Idol of our choice. Let’s celebrate each of their varied talents without idolizing them by spending all our time and thought following their every foible, fashion choice or quote. There’s a world that needs our attention and prayer!