I’m no psychologist, but I do tend lean on the side of environmental influence. In other words, I tend to look around me and notice the things that are a product of what we have been told should or could be. Let’s face it, we all make decisions daily that are the result of how we were raised, how our society has influenced our life, or how a successful person looks, thinks, acts and lives in our communities.
When I encounter the laws laid out throughout the book of Exodus, both in the Decalogue (10 commandments) and beyond, I join the average reader in losing interest rapidly. I often find them with little to offer to my own current situations. However, this is far from the truth.
They have, after all, completely influenced not only the way that I live, but the way in which people have acted for centuries. It’s as if God is laying out for the Hebrew people a manner of living, both in relation to God (Commandments 1-4) and in relation to fellow man (6-10), that is to become the way in which they are conditioned. I am realizing that these principles for life, these standards of conduct, these ethical paradigms are largely responsible for the development of a much greater sociological phenomenon. To borrow the language of America’s founding fathers, what is found in the 10 Commandments are no doubt truths that so many of us hold to be self-evident.
God’s revelation of the law, his revealing of these rules, convey to us not only much about His own character but also much about what many Christian’s today take as obvious. Of course, Jesus would extend the scope of these laws in an interpretation which would transform the Christian community, but in the first revelation of these in Exodus the reader finds a foundation, a compass of sorts, for much of what is to come for humanity.
As God’s people, may we be formed, molded, indeed conditioned, by these very principles. But let us not forget the way in which these laws would later be abused. Jesus expands the entire scope of this foundation in Matthew 5. For Jesus, it seems that the Jewish community has lost sight of the true spirit of these ethical standards. Because of this, we find his delineation of these laws and much broader application as an awakening for the people of his time and for us. They had become complacent in their legalistic interpretation of the laws, and Jesus presents a whole new way to understand them. Suddenly, there is an entirely new way of thinking about how to live, act, and think. What they had been told… wasn’t all there was to it. There was better to be had. Jesus makes groundbreaking interpretations of the law, each beginning with “You have heard it said…”
Jesus says, you may have been told a lot of things, but let me tell you how it should be.
Luxury car company, Audi, diminishes it competition while pointing out some parallel truth in this video: