Sermon Sunday: Hang Ten

I never made the connection between the ten commandments and surfing. I never even considered it a possibility until a few days ago when I was sitting in Walt’s office and he was telling me what he was going to discuss in church today.

If the ocean is God’s creation, meaning everything, and the waves are the flow of life, then we are maneuvering our way through, and around, those waves like surfers.

I’ve always wanted to think of myself as a surfer. I love the beach. I love the ocean. I love to watch waves crash against the sand. I could (and have) just sit for as long as life permits, and watch wave after wave move across the water, crest, and crash. Each wave has it’s own history; it’s own story, and its own reason for being. I’ve pondered those reasons and tried to trace the path of a wave back to its creation. I’ve even attempted to surf, but haven’t taken enough time to actually get any good at it. Unless you count body surfing, and I do, which I am pretty good at…says I.

So if God is the ocean, and the waves are life, and we are surfing these waves, looking for a way to stay on top of our board and above the surface of the water, then the ten commandments are God’s guide for doing so. They are the board. They keep us afloat.

A couple things happen when we choose to follow these commandments.

  1. Life’s waves are less destructive. So many of us look at the top 10 as a list of rules than seeks to ruin our fun. We see it as a way for God to control us. But read through the list, and think about the times in your life when you broke those commandments. In my case, I see a bunch of failures in my life. I don’t see those times as times where I was having fun. I see them as events that caused me to lose my way. I see them as times in my life when I chose myself, my way, my desires, and used my understanding to make a choice that turned out to be wrong. Sure, I learned from those experiences. God used those experiences to teach me a lesson, and I am grateful that he loves me enough to take them time to let me learn those lessons. And, I am grateful that he does not ever go back on his decision to give us free will. That being said, I could have also learned those lessons by making the right choices, by staying on top of my surfboard, by staying out of the cold, dark, unknown salty waters. Life could have been much easier to navigate, and less people would have been hurt.
  2. We show God that we love him. As parents, my wife and I have had to make rules for our son. We’ve set boundaries for him. We have drawn out the perimeter and said, “Do not cross this line.” We haven’t made these rules because we don’t want our son to have fun. We haven’t made these rules because we hate him. Quite the opposite. We set boundaries because we love him, and because we want to protect him. And, when he follows those rules, we are proud of him, we know that he trusts us, that he respects us, and that he loves us. So when God sets the boundaries for our lives and breaks them down into 10 easy to understand commandments, it is our obligation to follow them the best we can. Will my son break a rule? Absolutely. Will we ever keep all 10 commandments? Not likely. But, when we seek to. When we set our minds on following them because we love the one who made them, then he knows we respect him, and we love him. And in that act, we build a stronger relationship with him.

I don’t think I really said any of what Walt said today, but hopefully it was his teaching that inspired these thoughts.

When Jesus came, he took those ten and further refined them down to two. And, if you follow the two, then you follow the ten. Make sense?

Jesus told us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul. And, love your neighbor as yourself.”

To me, and I might be alone in this, the two that Jesus gives us is a lot more forgiving than the ten. I am not sure quite how to explain that last sentence. Either way, what it boils down to is that God knows life can be tough. He came down here and experienced it as one of us. And, in his infinite wisdom, and through his example as Jesus, God has given us the tool we need to maneuver the waves of life. It won’t always be fun. It won’t always be easy. And at times it will feel like a long hard lonely road. But if we follow the guide that’s been given to us, then it can be a life filled with joy and peace.

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