Saturday, April 25, 2015

Using the Ten Commandments

Never take what is not yours.  Exodus  20:15  from The Young Reader’s Bible

One of the most frustrating aspects in engaging with my Muslim women friends has been hearing their emphasis on man-made rules and traditions versus understanding God’s laws and principles. Usually the man-made rules have to do with not eating pork, not drinking alcohol, male and female interaction, keeping Ramadan, reciting prescribed prayers, and covering the head and body to as not to reveal hair or bodily form. Manal(pseudonym) is a Muslim woman who adheres to these rules. Other rules are either hazy or deemed less significant.

“Manal, does your apartment building have any rules? Can you tell me what some of those rules are?” She stated the few rules.  “Do you think they are good rules or bad?  Why are they good?” I pressed the point. Then I went further. “Does your ESL school have any rules?  What are they?  Are they good or bad rules?  How about the government here? What are some of their rules? Do you think they are good or bad?  How about rules for driving? What are they? Are they good or bad?  Why?”  I knew this was the area where she made up her own rules or tried to get by without getting caught.  “Do you have any rules for your children?  What are they? Are they good or bad rules?  Why? Did you know that God gave the prophet Musa ten rules for us to obey? Do you know what they are?”  She did not.  I had her read the ten rules in Exodus 20: 1-17 from The Young Reader's Bible story book. We went over each one. I gave an example of each one in everyday life. One example was about the rule:  “Do not steal.”  I described how we might be tempted in a store when we see lipstick and then after looking around and not seeing anyone, put it in our purse.  She became pensive and quiet. It was as if a light was going on inside of her as she processed hearing and understanding God’s rules.    

Sometimes we jump too quickly to the wonderful truth that God forgives our sins through Jesus while they have not always understood what constitutes sin. God’s laws are good. He does not give many laws but what He has given pertains to our relationship with Him and with others. I think that often we are tempted to bypass the whole subject of rules because we are so aware of the huge burden of them living under Islamic law. However, it is helpful to lay a solid foundation of God’s moral laws. They are only a mirror to show us what is right and wrong. They have no power of themselves to make us obey them. They bring a sense of guilt when we break them which results in consequences. Ultimately we want to help our Muslim friends see that we are not made right with God by obeying the rules.  He frees us from the penalty of breaking the laws and offers us forgiveness and introduces us to a new way of pleasing God. But first they need to be informed what God’s rules are.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the ten commandments.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.