Laying Down the Law
Lay down the law so you can celebrate grace.
Grace is really popular these days, have you noticed that? Over the course of time the church goes through phases in which the pendulum swings back and forth between grace and the law. Ideally we would walk in the middle ground and experience a healthy blend of both, but so far humanity isn't great at walking in a straight line. We tend to walk as far as we can in one direction until we are forced to turn around.
So, if you are like me, you have taught your kids John 3:16 and you have regularly spoken about how God loves them so much that He sent Jesus to die for their sins. This is all well and good until we realize we forgot to explain sin. The truth that we all fall short of the glory of God remains only an abstract idea unless we have something to measure our lives against.
Enter the Ten Commandments.
"In days gone by, children learned the commandments before they learned John 3:16, because only then did John 3:16 have real meaning for them. Likewise, John Eliot's first translation work among the Indians was not of John 3:16 but of the Ten Commandments, and he preached his first sermon on them. Did John Eliot think the Indians would be saved by the Ten Commandments? Of course not, but the Commandments would show them why they needed to be saved - they were law-breakers, and they needed a law-keeper to be their substitute."
- excerpt from Whatever Happened to the Ten Commandments? by Ernest Reisinger
I read the above expert in a very helpful book called Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. The encouragement I found in those pages motivated me to discuss and memorize the commandments with my kids. More than that, the reminder that grace loses its luster without the backdrop of the law, encouraged me to find ways to incorporate God's laws into the regular fabric of our lives. For example, we recently heard a cartoon character say OMG which of course stands for "Oh my God". One of my kids starting parroting this phrase until I explained what it meant and how it violated the 3rd commandment - Do not take the Lord's name in vain. My son said "Oh...ok." and that was it. Once you have taught the commandments it only takes a moment to insert a quick reminder or example into your daily lives.
If you'd like some fun, easy ways to begin this conversation with your kids, here are two ideas that are simple and effective:
Marble Analogy: have your kids try to roll a marble around on a plate. (This will be fun but most likely they will not be able to keep the marble from falling off because there are no boundaries.) Next, have your kids try to roll a marble around a bowl or a cake pan with edges. (Ideally, this will work better because there are boundaries.) You can discuss how God's laws are helpful boundaries for our lives that are there to keep us safe and to help keep us within God's will.
Click the image for an easy way to memorize the commandments using 10 fingers. The image and content are from myblessedhome.net
Grace doesn't seem so amazing until you have experienced the crushing, impossible weight of the law. The law is not where we end but it is an important place to begin. So lay down the law this week...and then throw a big party and celebrate the incredible gift of grace!
Note then the kindness and the severity of God
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