What We Believe: the Commands of God

It stands as the most basic tenet of Christian faith: the 10 Commandments. And over the centuries the Commandments have been misinterpreted, misconstrued, modified, rationalized, declared antiquated or just plain ignored. Yet they still stand, even though they are attacked as an unconstitutional assertion of religion into a secular society, where Christian judges are forced to remove them from display in their courtrooms, where public school prayer is no longer spoken, where church life is a forbidden topic around some companies lunch rooms.

What the Christian Church can appreciate and thank God for is that these Commandments state God’s will for our lives, our relationship to God and to each other. They are the standard by which we respond to God for His life-giving blessing to us, the way in which we honor each other, how we “get along.” The Commandments of God were never intended to be negotiable, or called the 10 Suggestions, but rather the Law of God; never intended to be restrictive to our freedom to live or express ourselves, but an opportunity to serve God and be at peace with those around us.

There exists a stigma over God’s Commandments. Non-Christians have stated the Commandments are not possible to keep in their entirely, or are given as exhortations by people (Christians) who do not keep them themselves. Yes, this is true! Even the most devout Christian breaks Commandments of God daily! Yet, the 10 Commandments themselves are indeed good and right. Having them shows us what God wants, and how we have fallen short, making us aware of our need for forgiveness and our need of a Savior who does the Law of God perfectly on our behalf, and that Savior is Jesus. He lived a sinless life on earth and therefore He could be our substitute and die in our place on the cross, that through His sacrifice God applies Jesus’ righteousness to us in forgiving our sins and trespasses, our violations of His Commandments. Repentance in breaking God’s laws and faith in Jesus assure forgiveness and life.

When we look at God with the approach that God is first authoritative, judging and demanding, then we see the Commandments as a burden, something to be followed, a load we cannot bear, a standard we cannot keep. But if we see God as first being loving, having first given His Son Jesus to die for our sins, that His will is for us to live forgiven and faithful to Him, then we see the Commandments as opportunity, a way to respond in a positive way to the will of God for us, a way to serve God and say thank you for the life-giving sacrifice of Jesus. And when we fail in keeping those Commands, we still turn to Jesus for full forgiveness and restoration.

The Commandments thus become not a condemning burden on us, but a show of the grace of God to His people. This is what we believe!

To learn more about God’s Commands and the catechism, our churches are: St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fredonia (672-3731), Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gowanda (532-4342) and Trinity Lutheran church in Silver Creek (934-2002).