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Work-life balance dominates our thinking in a 24-7 work world. Navigating the daily digital demands is the new stressor replacing the old work-week grind. Consulting gurus talk about the “creative destruction” of business, medicine, education and government. Long standing social formations are tottering everywhere. The economic signals from long stable national economies are alarming. What is going on?
Moses starts his second speech with a 10-point success plan. He lays out the most famous set of rules ever written—the Ten Commandments. Most of us take these as highly personalized directives. They are guidelines for personal introspection and public behaviour. But they are much more than that. This is bedrock law. On it they will build a sound society where fairness and reciprocity rule. There are many key moments in human history. Surely this is one of them. It is impossible to conceive of Western history apart from the Ten Commandments.
Here is a historical hinge point. Mountain, Fire, Cloud and Stone—these were the manifestations of the majesty and power of God in creation. Now God provides the law, specifying rules for social order and structural good in society. But embedded in the Decalogue (the formal name for the Ten Commandments) is a problem. Nearly everyone agrees its demands are just and reasonable. Yet throughout history no one has been able to live up to these expectations (1). The solution is the good news of a personal God. The heart of the human dilemma is resolved by the gospel, and this the central problem that Paul takes up in Romans.
Our understanding of God is of necessity filtered through our experience of him. The unapproachable God, with the unpronounceable name—YHWH—has made himself known. But we won’t fully know him until later. Only when we see Jesus does the veil lift. And that is the rest of the story.
Father you have not left us without a guide. Your law is a clear foundation of common grace for all. We long for justice to break out. And we ask that you will make us instruments of peace today. Let your grace fill our lives as we follow your son, Jesus Christ, today.