We are living in a day when the things of God are mostly ignored in society. Sadly the church is often just as guilty as the society of ignoring the things of God. Last year we were all deeply saddened at the tragic and senseless murder of nine church goers at a Wednesday evening prayer service in a church in Charleston, SC. I was interviewed by a local TV station seeking a pastoral response to the shooting which was motivated by hate and racism.
The interviewer actually wanted to know my opinion about guns in church. While that’s a matter for another blog, I did point out that regardless of a church’s policy on guns all churches were going to have to take more seriously the issue of security. The key question was, “Why do you think things are this way, why the change?” We all know the church at one time was a sacred place, and no one, not even the most hardened criminal, would think of stealing from a church, much less murdering people in God’s house.
When I first began preaching the gospel we left the doors to the sanctuary open at all times. Church members or not, anyone who desired could come to the building for comfort, prayer, or meditation. It was the safest place of all, literally a Holy place. So the interviewer wanted to know what has changed. Why is the church building no longer a safe place?
I would suggest that since we have kicked God out of society, removed Him and any recognition of His Word from the courthouses and the schoolhouses and the public arena, that maybe God has removed His hand of protection and provision from the land. I have found it interesting that the liberals who demand that any public mention of God be eliminated are attending prayer meetings to pray for victims of tragedies, and ostensibly to pray to God!
What a convenient approach. We want God’s comfort but not His commands! When such behavior is directed at us by other people we see through the hypocrisy clearly, and we want no part of it. Why should we assume we are more discerning than God is?
Our modern America society is like a ship without either a compass or any reliable navigational aide. We have lost our way. We have no true north to which we can point our lives. The Word of God has, in times past, served as the moral conscience of the nation. We all know what happens when the conscience is seared. It no longer provides the protective guidance we need.
In America we believe in religious freedom. But while all are welcome to worship God as we so choose, there is nothing wrong with having a general belief in the benevolent kindness of a Sovereign God who revealed Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. We can be a Christian nation and still reflect the diversity of religious freedom that has been the hallmark of America since its founding. Christianity uniquely among religious faith traditions allows for the rights of conscience of non-believers to be protected and preserved.
Any society that jettisons it moral convictions will eventually implode. It will become a house divided against itself. Historical evidence of this phenomenon can be seen from Babylon to Rome and from Lenin’s Russia to Nazi Germany. Our recent election cycle reveals the reality of this fact. Of course, there are those that claim you cannot legislate morality. That is both untrue and absurd. Every law legislates morality. The question is merely whose morality gets legislated!
God provided us with a moral compass to guide the conscience. That moral code is known as the Ten Commandments. It was given originally by God to Moses for the moral construct and foundation of the nation of Israel. The code has served Israel well. When the Christian church began after the resurrection of Christ the moral conscience of the faith continued to be guided by this same moral code. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment His reply was of greater significance than many realize. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34–40)
The Lord’s answer proves to be a summary of the Ten Commandments! (Exodus 20) When the law was given to Moses it came to him, written with the very finger of God, on two stone tablets (Exodus 31:18). The first tablet, containing laws one through four, dealt with our relationship to God. That forms the basis for obeying the Great Commandment. The way to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind, is to obey the first four commandments. We are to have no other Gods, we are not to worship idols, we are not to take His name in vain, and we should remember the Lord’s Day and keep it holy.
The second tablet, containing laws five through ten, deal with our relationship to others. They provide the basis for obedience to the second Great Commandment, “to love your neighbor as yourself.” We ought to honor mother and father, refrain from murder, adultery, stealing, lying and covetousness. Imagine how much better our society would be if these commands were universally recognized and respected.
Someone might object that in a pluralistic society where some individuals do not believe in the Judaeo-Christian God, or any God for that matter, they would be ostracized and discriminated against. This is not so. The proof of this very thing is that we have laws on the books related to familial relationships, murder, adultery, stealing and lying.
The fact that as a society we express a general belief in a loving, gracious and Sovereign God, does not discriminate against the one who chooses freely to disbelieve. None can testify as to how simply believing in God has harmed anyone. While some claim that God told them to take acts of horrible violence against innocents the sane, saintly, and sensible know that is not the case. Individuals commit acts of atrocity because they are depraved sinners, not because of some belief in God.
As our society hurtles toward self-destruction we need to be reminded that God has a standard of morality to which He will hold all persons, whether they believe, agree, and obey, or not. We desperately need to return to the fundamental structure of the Ten Commandments as the basis of law and order in our nation. The economy, the state of the family, and individual lives and freedom of conscience require it.
Are you personally guided by God’s moral code? Do you know the Ten Commandments? Are you teaching them to your children and grandchildren? I remind you that they are not suggestions – they are commands! It is never wrong to obey God, but it can be fatal to disobey Him.
Ten Commandments Georgia, Inc., exists to acknowledge the God of the Bible by educating Georgians through the display of historical documents, including the Ten Commandments. These documents are designed to inform citizens about our nation’s biblical heritage. The purpose is to see a renewed interest in knowing what the Ten Commandments are, encouraging obedience to those commands, and having them displayed in our homes, churches, businesses, and public buildings.
The desire of Ten Commandments Georgia is to see in our day a restoration of a common moral code based upon God’s laws, the Ten Commandments. We believe this will make our families happier, our neighborhoods safer, and our government more just. Please pray for us and consider joining us in the effort to educate Georgia on God’s moral law.
Dr. Thomas Rush, Executive Director
Ten Commandments Georgia – www.tencommandmentsga.org
June 5, 2017