Sharing the “Good” News?

The picture above is a billboard visible when driving north on Valley Mills Drive in Waco.  In case it is hard to read, it lists the Ten Commandments under a heading of “If you love me, keep my commandments.” I suppose the lightning in the background is intended to convey something, but I’ll not deal with that here.

The message this billboard conveys is not biblical.

You see, when the Ten Commandments actually appear in the scriptures, they are prefaced NOT by a suggestion that we ought to keep them, but, rather, by a statement of who the God is who gives the commands.

” I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;” says something much different as the heading for the Ten Commandments than does “If you love me, keep my commandments.”    The former places the commandments in the context of what God has done; the commandments are to be lived in response to God, not as a measure hoping to please God and thus win God’s favor.

This second line, the one that titles the billboard, “If you love me keep my commandments,” is also in the Bible, but is also taken out of context.  These are the words of Jesus, and here is the context in which they appear:

13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.

Maybe it is just me, but the billboard seems to draw these words of Jesus out of context and flavor them with guilt-manipulation.

On the other hand, throughout the scripture, Old and New Testaments, God is the kind of God who first saves, delivers, frees, promises, and then, and only then, asks, requires, commands anything from us.

This billboard reminds me of one of the reasons I am grateful and proud to be a United Methodist; it is in the DNA of our denomination to recognize that we live our lives in response to God’s grace, which always comes before any of our efforts.

2 thoughts on “Sharing the “Good” News?

  1. I’m continually amazed at the lack of Christ in a lot of “Christianity.”

    The message is clear & so simple:
    Love God.
    Love each other.

    Doesn’t matter how in-depth theology gets if it gets in front of that.

  2. of course the rub lies in the definition of ‘love’ and what love is.

    What does it mean to love God? What does it mean to love others?

    I will of course state an overly ‘hot topic’ (but this is just to state the point).

    We should love all people regardless of sexual orientation. (not a controversial Xian statement).

    1) We should seek to have people leave a gay lifestyle for a true loving heterosexual relationship. That is what God intends and so that is love.

    2) We should affirm homosexuals in loving committed relationships.

    Drastically different statements, but both are understandings of ‘love.’ I confess they are a gross over simplification, but I believe it makes a point. The point is theology matters.

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