Racial justice and the 10 Commandments

Notice how the first four commandments having to do with our relationship to God are much longer than the other six commandments having to do with our relationship to each other. The first four have to do with the love of God, and the other six with love of neighbor – the two “great commandments,” as Jesus said. Maybe more is said of the love of God – just as the greatest commandment is love of God – because only when we “get that right” can we truly love one another. Love is of God because God is love.     

To love God is to know that God is more than we can imagine – and that God cannot be limited by our experience. … No other gods – No images  … There can be only one God, but God is not limited by our religious understanding and beliefs. We can never understand God, who remains a mystery – yet we can know God and who God is – a God of compassion, faithfulness, peace, wisdom, justice, freedom, mercy, kindness – in one word, a God of love.

We misuse the name of the Lord our God when we do not speak and act in love. … We keep the Sabbath day as holy when on that day – and all other days – whatever we say and do is done in love.

The other 6 commandments extend that love for God to human beings. … Honor your parents … Do not take life … Honor marriage … Do not take what belongs to others … Speak truthfully about everyone … Do not wrongfully desire what is not yours.

All of these commandments can be best understood through love – for parents and family, for life, for the one to whom we are married, and for all people, wanting what is good for them – and choosing not to steal, lie, or even covet – and thereby harm them.

Knowing how to live is not hard. – We live in love … for God and for others, as well as ourselves. One way to understand love is that love desires what is good for others and chooses to do that, as much as it is up to us. – I do not have to “like” someone (in the sense of my feelings toward that person) – but I can choose to do what is good for that person (or at least to want what is good).

At the heart of love, we find sacrifice – a willingness to do what is good for others even at cost to ourselves, perhaps even at the cost of giving up all that we have and even our lives for them. – That kind of love cuts deep. And we have to be careful with it. That does not mean giving ourselves up to someone’s abuse toward us, thinking that is love. Abusing someone else is never what’s good for someone. So if I love someone who is abusive, I will do what I can to stop the abuse – out of love.

This is why I am committed to seeking justice for people, including racial justice. People of color continue to be abused and harmed by the system in which we live – a system created by white people, primarily white men. My love for people who created and still “own” the system means I know it is not good for them and want to change it for their sakes. And my love for people who have been “owned” by the system and its “masters” – and who continue to be harmed economically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually by it all compels me to speak up and take action.

The Christian Church has been complicit in this injustice throughout the centuries. The Church and the State worked together to force indigenous people off their land, even to kill many of them. We worked together to enslave Black people and to continue to keep them poor since emancipation. We protected “our space” in communities and churches by insisting “they” have “their own” space to live, work, learn, and worship.

The time for justice is long past. Justice work is “love work.” To love people is to seek justice today – here where we live and work and worship – and I choose to live in love.

Many people honor the 10 Commandments and say we should live up to them. Then let us do that. Let us love God and our neighbor, as we love ourselves. Desire and do what is good for everyone, for that is the way of love.

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Can you imagine a world of compassion and justice? How do we replace fear with hope for a better world? What can we do every day to build such a world? ... These questions are at the heart of what I write about. Follow my blog. Join Imagine - a learning community working for a better world. Let's do it together.

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