As the U.S. Congress self-destructed into chaos this week, it is appropriate that this Sunday’s lectionary reading includes the Ten Commandments. This week, Kevin McCarthy proved that you can’t lie to people and expect them to trust your words. Driven only by vanity, he made contradicting promises to opposing factions, and eventually, chickens came home to roost. The prophecy of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” by B. G. Hennessy was fulfilled, and McCarthy was eaten by the wolves. The corrupt Congress colluded and removed their Liar in Charge.
The mistaken traditional institutional church has used the Ten Commandments as a raffle ticket for a mansion in heaven to manipulate the public, while Jesus summarized the real intent of the Ten Commandments as “love God and love your neighbor as yourself” to uplift the penitent.
Rather than a list of dos and don’ts as a means of obtaining a ticket to heaven only for a few, the Ten Commandments provide guidance for communal living in the kindom of God for everyone. It is guidance for heaven on earth. We are to love others, those whom we agree with and those whom we disagree with, with the same degree of acceptance we want afforded to us. Death of Jesus on the Cross is a living example of loving your neighbor as you want them to love you. And his loving us also tells us that we are to love others unconditionally, even if the same divine love is not reciprocated.
The current state of disrespect for Christianity is exemplified by Kevin McCarthy: discredited and discarded for lying. Through their absence, young people are speaking out loudly that the Ten Commandments the Church teaches do not meet their spiritual needs. It is not Jesus’ Ten Commandments.
The young people are seeking a real Jesus, not a caricature of a Western European colonizing oppressive dictator who judges and manipulates innocent and vulnerable with a list of untenable dos and don’ts. As they are learning to think for themselves, they want Jesus of the sacred Holy Bible, not outdated cultural edicts of an ancient institution.
The young people are seeking a faith community that is a living Jesus, “love your neighbor as yourself.” They want honest faith, not a Sunday facade. They want genuine love, not Sunday worship service chill. They want to experience the accepting embrace of Jesus, not condemning judgment of an antiquated, irrelevant religiosity.
We can lie to young people only for so long. Let us admit that we do not have the corner on the spiritual market and cannot issue them a ticket to heaven. Let us love them in the way Jesus loves sinners, teachers, fishermen, farmers, tax collectors, engineers, thieves, executives, adulterers, and preachers. Let us be Jesus to one another. Let us be the living Ten Commandments.