After thanking God for what God did in the life of her friend, Miss Clara declared: “You are good.” There are so many verses I could pair with this declaration, but I chose John 10:10:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I love the contrast of goodness portrayed as abundant life with evil as stealing, killing, and destroying.
Abundant life, here and now, is what God wants for us. It is a promise of Christian life, a promise that is often missed by Christians and non-Christians alike. Christianity is not just a path to heaven, but also about life together and in community. When we believe Jesus, when we live by the golden rule, when we love God and love others, we bless the lives of all those around us. We are blessed in return by others who are living by the same example of Jesus.
I feel hopelessly old fashioned bringing up the Ten Commandments, but it might be helpful to share a Presbyterian perspective on the subject. I have always been taught not to be confused by the “shalls” and “shall nots.” The Ten Commandments are ultimately a path to freedom because they create the conditions for people to thrive. And when people are thriving, power is better distributed and people less likely to be treated unfairly or abused. (Imagine a young single mother with three children facing a false witness in criminal court as an example of what could go wrong.)
I have spent many years teaching the Ten Commandments to preschoolers, which has shaped how I talk about them, so bear with my oversimplified explanations:
When we worship God and not things, our priorities are set right. When we don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, all our speech is more careful. It is good for us to rest and play and enjoy what we create. Parents can know that we have God’s support because he gives this rule to our children: Honor your mother and father. We are all better off when we don’t steal, when we don’t murder, and when marriages are faithful. When I teach the Ten Commandments to children, I talk about the difference between a lie and bearing false witness. Children understand the message: “Don’t deliberately try to get your brother in trouble” and why that is important. Not wanting something just because somebody else has it is an early lesson for most children. There are only ten rules, but there is so much wisdom in them! Even children can see the value in these rules. As grownups, I think sometimes we forget that God gives us the rules for our good.
God is good because He wants good for His children. God wants us to have abundant life so much that He sent His son to teach the whole world how best to love God and each other, how to live by the Golden Rule.
My prayer: Heavenly father, you are so good. You have taught us how best to live together. Inspire us to see the wisdom of your ways. Make us all saints so that we can live abundantly in freedom, enjoy your presence, and bring glory to your holy name. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as is in heaven. Give us all our daily bread and help us forgive each other. Save us all from the thief who wants to steal and kill and destroy! AMEN!!!