Monday, March 19, 2012

Post Those Commandments Where They Belong

This blog was originally written and published as the introduction to a sermon that was preached March 11, 2012.  You can find the sermon on our church's web site:
Ah, for the good old days when all was as it was supposed to be!

When was that?  Maybe it was the 1950’s when the American economy was in a dramatic upswing following World War II.  Wasn’t that the time in which all schools opened the day with prayer, the pledge to the flag of the United States of America, and the recitation of the Ten Commandments?

I started to school in 1955; and, quite frankly, of those three sacred things, I remember only one happening—the pledge to the flag.  I don’t recall seeing the Ten Commandments posted anywhere.  I did learn those.  The little church in Tallapoosa, Missouri, where my family attended thought it important that children learn those.  Some in the church even dared to believe adults, as well as children, should obey them. 

We didn’t begin our day at school with formal prayer, though I prayed often at school.  The only at-school formal praying I remember occurred at ballgames.  Usually, a local minister would do the honor.  I don’t recall any of the prayers verbatim.  I do recall that they often included a plea for the forgiveness of sins and for sinners to come to know Jesus, and they usually included a request for the Lord to keep the players safe.  Safe?  We were decked out in pads and helmets and were wearing spiked shoes.  Part of what we learned was how to “take out” the other guy.  I remember wondering at the time how God would honor that prayer for our team while at the same time honoring it for the other one. 

No, prayer and the Ten Commandments, in spite of what some remember, were not a regular part of my public school days.  Well, more accurately stated, they weren’t on the agenda of the school.  They were a regular part of my public school days because the good folks at our little church taught us that we were to be Christians both at church and at school, and anywhere else we were.  We learned to pray at church and so we prayed at school.  I recall sitting with my good friends Sallee and Jim Fletcher at recess during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Jim’s dad, who was Sallee’s uncle, was in the Air Force Reserves and had just been activated.  Three young believers gathered quietly, away from others, and, without show, prayed for Jim’s dad and for a peaceful resolution.

The Ten Commandments were not posted on the walls of my school; they didn’t need to be.  Parents and churches posted them on the walls of the hearts of their people.  Posted there, they were mobile, going wherever the believers went. 

I believe in the validity of prayer, and I believe in the importance of knowing and obeying the Ten Commandments.  Furthermore, I believe that, were believers in Jesus to pray unceasingly and were they to know and obey the Ten Commandments, our families, churches, communities, schools, and nation would be better than they are.

Let’s post those Commandments . . . on the walls of our hearts.