Christians, We live by rules but probably not the 10 you are thinking about.
We live by 2 rules that are clarified by 10 applications of the rules.
Jesus simplified the 10 commandments and the other burdensome rules and regulations that the religious leaders of the day had formulated to two rules for living.
‘“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
All three Gospels record this interaction but in Luke we also get a story that illustrates how to properly apply the second rule.
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Living the Christian life is simple. It all boils down to 2 rules to follow. It is simple but it isn’t easy. It isn’t just not easy, it is impossible to do. It is impossible to live the Christian life perfectly. But that is part of the Christian life. Being a Christian isn’t about following the rules. The Christian life is about following our ruler. Living the Christian life is about falling on God’s mercy and having what Jesus did, his sacrificial death, pay for, pay off, cover over, wash away, cleanse, erase, be a substitute for, our sins.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Christian life is life of living and being interested and intertwined and invested in the lives of people around us. It is caring about and caring for our neighbors.
The apostles John and James both said something about this in their letters.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:16-18
James says: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Christianity is not something we can do one day a week, nor can we do it passively, or anonymously or selectively. There are no time outs, or pauses. Once we are in, we are in. There is this one fantastic benefit, we are always forgiven when we fail. One caveat to that is we are not forgiven when we fail to forgive. That’s where the “not selective” thing can sting. I cannot withhold forgiveness to anyone for their sins and continue to receive forgiveness for my own sin.
The Christian life is so simple.
Step one. Love God.
Step two Love people.
If I fail at any point, repent and go back to step one.