"thou shalt not."
three words that, for many, seem to define the very essence of christianity, or even religion in general. i was thinking about this the other day as i was thinking about the fear that sometimes gets it's stiff grip on us and keeps us from moving forward or outward or upward or any-ward. and i was thinking about fear, i remembered another "do not" commandment. you won't find it on any list of the 10 commandments, even though it is a commandment given by Jesus himself. you can find it in luke 12:32:
"do not be afraid, little flock. for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
do not be afraid. there is a commandment i need to start being more careful to obey! in a world full of tyrants and terror, i need to be reminded of Jesus' firm command. it is not for me to be full of fear and worry. why? because it isn't God's desire to punish us or crush us or let us rot, but Jesus says it is God's great joy to give us the Kingdom. to bring us into a reign when there will be no more suffering. when i start to live as if that is really true, i can start to really live.
which leads me to another "do not." you can find this one in galatians 6:9:
"do not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up."do not give up on doing the right thing. standing up for the oppressed. being an advocate for the marginalized. telling the truth. putting others first. standing against racism and sexism and ageism and all the other isms that entitle some at the expense of others. do not give up. fight for equality, for freedom, for justice. do not give up. because there will be a harvest someday. and we will bear the fruit of this hard work, if we don't give up. and what is it that compels us to work so diligently at doing the right thing?
that's the last "do not." i'm quoting from romans 13:8-10 (the message):
" don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. when you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. the law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: love other people as well as you do yourself. you can’t go wrong when you love others. when you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love."do not stop loving. we owe it to one another. we are better when we worry less about splinters in other people's eyes, and pay attention to the giant branch sticking out of our own: we need to love more, better, deeper, more freely. all the "do nots" come down to this in the end. the old "do nots" are fine, but they aren't nearly as important as these:
do not be afraid.
do not quit doing the right thing.
do not stop loving.