A friend of mine sent this cartoon to me the other day, and while it's a funny image, I started thinking about the 10 Commandments, and the bible, and how humans have, for both pure, and selfish reasons, have distorted the message over time.
The 10 commandments themselves are pretty straight-forward (in my opinion) but what's most important?
In Mark 12 (and I am somewhat paraphrasing, which is perfectly fine, because most people quoting scripture do it...) a disciple asked Jesus which commandment was the most important. Jesus answered:
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."
"And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Of course this isn't to say the other Commandments are moot, however, it is obvious that you love God, and love others. Seems to me that "Love" is the central theme... not condemnation... judgment... or punishment.
No, "Thou Shalt not Flog" is not a real Commandment... or is it? "Love your neighbor as yourself." Unless you go around flogging yourself, don't do it to the people around you.
I am reminded of the story of the wind, the sun, and the man in the brown coat...
One day, the wind and the sun were having an argument to see who was stronger. Each was trying to convince the other that he was the stronger force of nature.
"I, clearly, am the strongest of us," said Wind, "did you see the trees in the forest after I blew last night? Gone, fallen to the ground, and with one of my softer gusts!"
Sun smiled, shining his light. "I am quite strong as well," Sun said, "did you see the happy faces of the Daisies in the field when they shone their faces toward me?"
"Daisies?!" Wind scoffed. "There would be no daisies had I not carried their seeds across the valley! I am clearly the stronger of us; I felled trees, and you, you made the Daisies happy?"
Just then, a man happened by, he was wearing a brown coat, tightly wrapped around him.
"There, see that man there, the man in the brown coat?" Asked Wind.
"I see him." Sun replied.
"Whichever of us can make that man take off his coat is the stronger of us!" Wind challenged, very sure of his ability.
Sun agreed, and also agreed that Wind could have the first go. And go Wind did! He huffed... he puffed... he blew the... (wait... that's the big bad wolf...) Well, Wind blew, and blew, and blew. But the man just walked more quickly, pulling his coat tighter and tighter around him.
Finally, Wind had tried his hardest. He looked at Sun and said: "Good luck! I was as mighty as could be, and I could not get the man out of his brown coat!" He watched, very smug as Sun smiled softly, and began to shine.
Sun shined softly, warmly, and before Wind even had the chance to catch his breath, the man in the brown coat began to loosen his wrap... and then, he took of his coat, hooked his finger in the collar, tossed it over his shoulder, and whistled a lively tune!
Wind hurried off... in a huff!*
Are you Wind? Or are you Sun?
The best way to live a life that draws others to what is good and right is to shine warmly, to show love. Unconditionally. Be an encouragement to those around you. God's love is not shown in biblical scripture we can memorize and recite, and blow into people's faces; God's love is shown through us, because of the way we live... the way we love.
Go shine! (or blow off) ~RR
*The story of the Sun, the Wind, and the Man in the Brown Coat is one I remember from childhood. This is my own version, written on May 2, 2010. ~Rebecca Reece