Bishop Wright: 0:00
We have to do our very best to establish a certain floor height in society. Dr King used to say you can’t legislate love, but you can pass laws. Right, they keep my neighbor from bashing my head in. We have to understand that we fundamentally missed the mark. I mean, that’s why the 10 Commandments were given. It was given to Moses as the people were newly into freedom, and so it was about hey, these tenants will create a well-being in the community.
This is For People with Bishop Rob Wright. Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m Melissa Rau and this is a conversation inspired by For Faith, a weekly devotion sent out every Friday. You can find a link to this week’s devotion and a link to subscribe in the episode’s description. Howdy Bishop.
Bishop Wright: 0:55
This week’s devotion is based off Exodus, chapter 20.
Bishop Wright: 1:00
And the 10 Commandments. You called it order and I have to say it may be one of my favorite topics to discuss as of late, so I’m really excited to hear your thoughts. So what’s your rough take on the 10 Commandments?
Bishop Wright: 1:16
Oh well, my gosh. So much to say. My rough take, as I’ve written into meditation, is that, you know, the 10 Commandments are about an ordered life, about ordered neighborliness. So it’s an ordered outward life and it’s an ordered inward life. And I think that the Commandments are not given to oppress or diminish, but they are, I think, ways in which to channel freedom.
So we have freedom. And then here’s our good God saying hey, I’m God, you’re not. Let me give you some advice here. The best way to channel freedom is in these directions. Keep me first, because I’m the only one who really loves you at the end of the day. Keep me first. Take care of the Sabbath day, you know. Get some rest, some ease for your soul. Respect mom and dad. Respect mom and dad. You know they’re not perfect people, but respect mom and dad. Don’t steal, don’t murder, right? Don’t covet, right, I mean, you know what’s bad about those things, right, you know, don’t commit adultery. Yeah, all of us sinned, some of us have committed that sin, but that’s not life for you, yeah. So so I mean, you know I’m a dad, right, you know, before I was a bishop, I was a dad and I’ve got five kids. You know, I’ve got three boys and two girls and I love them. I love them and they’re younger than me and I’m occupying the old, cantankerous space now in my household, right? And so you know what I try not to be is the law giver, but the love giver. And the love giver, you know, comes through order, and it’s not like I’m trying to trample on, you know, freedoms of anybody, but I’m saying, hey, you know I don’t know everything, but I know if you go down that road, there’s some pain and grief for you down that road, and if you go down that road a little while the bridge is out, that’s right. So I mean, you’re a grown-up now, young adult, you’re on your way to growing up, but, and all I can give you is my love and counsel, but it’s ultimately your choice.
So I guess what I’m really, really drawn by are the nuances, the very fine line between order and control. Sure, and I feel like sometimes in our human, you know, our humanity, is that we will take control, we’ll take order, a good and perfect and freeing thing. I love that you brought that freedom up, and yet we’ll try to control things, and I’m not sure that love and control go hand in hand. No, in fact I think they’re polar opposites, right?
Bishop Wright: 4:09
They’re diametrically opposed. I mean, love wouldn’t control, for love’s sake, right? And so God, if God is in fact love, then we look at how God behaves. And so God could have made us these little half-minded robots, automotons, and could have said you know, I’m going to sort of code into you, you know, and inability to make bad choices, because I want to control the things, because I want to control the thing. I mean, you could have done that from the beginning with Adam and Eve. You could have said, you could have not just told them not to eat from the tree of life in life and death, you could have just programmed them not to right. But love would give choice, and love would make space even for mistakes, right? And so, out of love God gives you know, these, these 10, not suggestions. They’re called commandments, but they really are more the 10 lanes of freedom.
Bishop Wright: 5:03
And what’s controlling about that? And you know, look, let me say the last part of that. You know, it’s not the 10 unforgivable sins, Right, that would be control. Right, that would be condemnation. It’s the 10 commandments, the 10 freedoms, right? That will lead to a more, a more generative life. And because God knows us better than we know ourselves, there’s always a way back home.
You ask a really compelling question Now. If you would do this out of love for your children, would you begrudge God for sharing a system of order that grows individual integrity and commends shared responsibility for neighborliness and justice?
Bishop Wright: 5:51
You know, I feel like that is the question, and yet sometimes we are more like all right, well, let’s just control neighborliness, and we’re gonna tell other people how to do that and what their idea of justice should be. And I think we just should all over bet everybody right as in should.
Bishop Wright: 6:09
Yeah, I was gonna say for the listener. She said should.
And I didn’t. That’s totally not mine, I just I do. I wonder about that line between. Where is that line between order and control? Where do we lose our way?
Bishop Wright: 6:26
Well, I mean, you’re asking, I think, an important question. Let’s flip it on its head and let’s say rather than from some power structure down to us, what about from us up to the world? Right, because I think the 10 commandments are supposed to also create a reality, right? So what if our neighborliness was such that we didn’t steal, that we didn’t bear false witness, that we kept our hands off of our neighbors’ spouses, you know, and so on and so forth? So, rather than some external force oppressing us and making us live out these truths, what if these were our truths as submitted to us out of love from God, and we created a world based on them? The argument is clear would the world be better or worse? It is clear the world would be better. It would be absolutely better, right? We would prioritize a Sabbath for everybody, right, and then maybe we would change our economic structure. I’m so ancient that I remember when people didn’t, you know, stores didn’t open on Sundays, right? But we’ve moved that aside, you know, because we’ve turned people into these one-dimensional things called consumers. You know, all shopping things all the time, right, and so is that better or worse for us? I mean, you be the judge. And so we’ve sort of normalized things and we personalized things and said, oh, that’s just your truth or that’s just my truth? I think there is still truth. I think it’s hard to get to sometimes, but I think there is still truth and I think that you can’t show me the upside of, you know, rampant murder in society. I mean, I live in Atlanta and you know this podcast goes out over other American cities that are dealing with rampant murder. I mean, is there more chaos or less chaos? Right, I mean, so there’s that. And then on the other side of it, I think, from a power structure, from a government, let’s say, I think we have to do our very best to establish a certain floor height in society. Dr King used to say you can’t legislate, love, but you can pass laws. Right, they keep my neighbor from bashing my head in right. And so I think we have to do that, we have to understand that we fundamentally missed the mark. I mean that’s why the 10 Commandments were a gift given. It was given, you know, to Moses as the people were newly into freedom. Right, they have left one society and they were moving out into the ability to create their own norms and own floor height. And so it was about hey, these tenants will create a well-being in the community. Yeah, so I think of it that way. And so you know, I’m not the kind of guy who says that we ought to put the commandments outside of every courthouse in America. I’m not that dude, though I understand the sentiment. But what I would, I think, where the opportunity is, is that what would it be like for us to get these things down into who we are? And that’s why I started off with a question what do you think about the 10 Commandments? I mean, I remember when the 10 Commandments was Charlton Heston, you know, and Cecil B. DeMille. That was 1954, by the way, 54 or 56. And you know, I just remember that, you know, I mean, that was CGI. Back then, those days it was pitiful in comparison to today, and you know, I just remember this being this big, ominous thing. And then you live a little bit and then you realize, yeah, we should treat mom and dad better. Even if mom and dad miss the mark, we should not make idols of things, because idols diminish us, right, and idol doesn’t save us, and idol diminishes us. It steals from us what only belongs to God, which is worship, and so on and so forth. And so then I began to see them now as an order given by a loving parent, god, who only wants us to thrive, who only wants us to thrive.
We’ll be right back.
Bishop Wright: 10:51
Hi listeners, Thank you for listening to For People, a space of digital evangelism. You can keep up with us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. And now back to For People.
Welcome back to For People. Bishop, I’m painfully aware that when we try to control things, grace is cheapened, and I guess my favorite definition of grace is something that is neither earned nor deserved. Yeah, and so where do you think grace falls into all of this with the Ten Commandments?
Bishop Wright: 11:34
Yeah Well, I mean again, some of us are sort of allergic to the Ten Commandments because we we feel like it’s a bossy God, our nagging God, trying to tell us a bunch of stuff. I actually do look at it, as I said in the meditation, I actually do look at it as grace, right? And so if you love someone, why would you let them wander aimlessly when you had the ability to offer some assistance? Before we had a little British lady in our car who tells us which way to go, gps and all that. We used to have to rely on neighbors for directions. We used to have to. Some of us who can remember back that far. We used to have to stop if we saw people. Or we’d go to a gas station and we used to have to ask people, hey, I’m trying to get to X and I’m a little turned around, can you help me? And then it’s been my experience that complete strangers would carry enough to say, oh, no problem, two stop signs this way, then a left, then a right, you’ll be safely home or you’ll be safely at your destination. Or back in the day when we didn’t have maps on our phones, we used to have to stop at a gas station or some other kind of place and you could buy a map. And what’s the point of the map? To control your adventure, no, no, no, it’s to get you where you say you want to go right, officially, effectively, and safely. And so I don’t understand the 10 commandments being anything other than that. It is for love’s sake, for care’s sake. How can we get you to? I mean, think about it this way. Think about the regret, the pain, the grief that you could save yourself, and that I could save myself, if we would have understood some of these commandments and lived accordingly. Think about all of the spiritual joy, money that you would have in the bank if you didn’t take some of these wrong turns right. And why do we take some of these wrong turns? We take them for selfishness, which we all have. We take them for pain. Sometimes we take these wrong left turns for vengeance’s sake. Sometimes we take them for ignorance’s sake, yeah. And so why would God, for love’s sake, sit by and watch you bang your head into a wall again and again and wander aimlessly, when God could, for love’s sake, lift up some coordinates for you that are reliable?
And yet God freely offers that grace when we do decide to go it alone or we aren’t following best practices or the best guides, or we draw out either the lines, et cetera. God’s grace is just absolutely incredible to me and I guess I’m sad because I feel like we should be channeling God’s grace for others when they mess up, and I don’t know that we’re really good at that.
Bishop Wright: 14:58
No, I think that’s the other part. I think, you know, never underestimate human ability to mess up a good thing. Right Is the way I look at it. So, even as much as I’m making the case for the 10 commandments, et cetera and I stand by the 1,000% I do understand also that in the communication of all of this and in the application of all this, we have hurt people because we have not talked about it as an ordered life given by grace, and we’ve sort of bashed people and beaten people with these sorts of things, tried to control people, et cetera. And I understand that, that we’ve done that and that we miss the mark so often. And you know, there’s no limit to God’s grace. You know, and this is what I love about it is because there, you know, all of this is about the message of redemption. Right, it doesn’t say left turn, and then you just lost forever. It’s left turn. And then somehow God gives us coordinates, even then, having made the wrong turn, to find our way back with restoration, with absolute restoration, and now we hope with learning, and we hope even with some new maturity about maybe God is God and I’m not, because I think what I like about the Ten Commandments is that God gives issues, that the Commandments through Moses and through people who miss the mark, but nevertheless the grace comes through and we have an opportunity to see God anew and to see ourselves anew. And so I don’t think, and we shouldn’t think, of ourselves as, oh, I violate Commandment two, four and seven. That’s just who I am. No, and God doesn’t view us that way. What God is saying is hey, let’s take a deeper look at that and maybe you can rely on me next time you’re at that intersection, maybe you’ll find something in my love and grace for you that you will not choose that. And then, of course, in our church, one of the great things I love about what we do normally on Sunday is the confession of sin. We do it together, that we confess out loud, as we say that prayer, that we have sinned against God and our neighbor. And then the service doesn’t end there. No, the minister, he or she, gets to stand up and pronounce God’s forgiveness over the community. And then, if you look at how the liturgy unfolds, if you look how the order service unfolds, what happens next? Peace, peace, the peace. So I’ve missed the mark, I’ve messed up. You know 10, commandment 1 through 10. And then you know it. You know, out of the sincerity of apology, I come to God say, yep, hey, man, I missed it, I missed the whole thing, my sins of omission and sins of commission. I just jacked up the whole thing. And then what is God’s response? Through the minister, you are forgiven and you’re restored anew. And so every Sunday is a, you know, is a do-over, is a start again. That’s grace. But yeah, love would give you order and love would give you coordinates, for sure.
Love it. Bishop, do you have any final thoughts about Christian maturity and how love and order and grace are going to play?
Bishop Wright: 18:35
It’s a work in progress.
Bishop Wright: 18:37
It’s a work in progress and we’re and none of us have reached the promised land just yet. All of us are working that way.
And thank God for that. Bishop, thank you and thank you, listeners, for tuning in to For People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. Please subscribe, leave a review and we’ll be back with you next week.