Friday, May 9, 2014

Why Stop at 8?

Why does it seem like in the LCMS discussions on the commandments sort of stop at the 8th commandment?  I mean, we get the poor 8th commandment tossed around all the time for about near anything, and with our other discussions you'll get 4th through 7th, and then on theological things you get the first table tossed around... but why do we stop at 8?

You shall not covet your neighbor's house - We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

.... hmmm.  So, the commandment whose meaning reminds us that we aren't to be scheming against each other, that we aren't merely to be keeping up appearances while we plot and plan in the background.  The Commandment that points out that we ought to respect our neighbor's house - his place - his position... rather than try to mess with that.

You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor - We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor's wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to say and do their duty.

.... hmmmm.  Stay?  Not try to turn people against someone so that they will come to me instead?  Encourage people to...stay... do their duty?  You mean my job isn't to make sure that my cult of personality (and hence my political power, the troops that I can rally) isn't the biggest and most awesome... but rather I ought to encourage people to work with where they are at?

Let's think about these for a bit.

You mean I'm not supposed to delight when people leave that "bad" LCMS congregation and come to mine, because I'm TEH AWESOME?

You mean my goal isn't supposed to be to try to run people out of their position, their pulpit, but rather my focus should be upon dealing with them, helping them to do better in the position they have.  Why, it's almost like we'd believe that God had actually CALLED that fruit-loop to actually be in that position for some reason (when clearly it's not the case, because God surely wouldn't have put him there... because I know *I* wouldn't have... and surely God wouldn't go against my will).

You mean that I ought to seek to help even those who I deem my enemies, that I am to serve and love even them?

Why, these commandments are insane!  With the other 8 I can hold myself out and pious and righteous and good - see how much better I am than my neighbor in terms of my worship (be it's piety or its outreach potential), or how I respect the by-laws and other authorities, or my defense of this social issue, or what have you.  But... how can I possibly point to myself with these - how can I demonstrate publicly that *I* am good and better than the other people with these commandments?  Preposterous!



Yep.  The forgotten commandments.

I covet what my neighbor has.  His position.  His paycheck.  His respect.  His political power. 

And if left merely to myself, I will turn anything into a dog eat dog free for all, even the Church.

Thanks be to God, in reality it's not my neighbor's position and power, nor is it *my* position in power.  All authority in heaven or on earth is Christ's and Christ's alone... and He uses that authority not to smite me for my covetousness, but to forgive and forgive richly, for I and my neighbor are both His - He has paid for us, He has bought us with His own blood, He has washed us and declared us without stain or blot.

And that, in that truth, there is peace and joy.  Take heart, He has overcome the world, even when the *world* creeps into how we approach the stewardship of the Church with which we have been entrusted for a brief time.

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