The week, I will bore you with the Sixth Commandment. It is Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17. The traditional form, from the NRSV, is, “you shall not murder”. The version in the BCP is, “to show respect for the life God has given us; to work and pray for peace; to bear no malice, prejudice, or hatred in our hearts; and to be kind to all creatures of God”.
This one is pretty straight forward, don’t murder anyone. Not too much wiggle room with this one. You can quibble over what is murder, but that’s about it. It’s short and simple. Rather a shame we, as a nation, don’t follow it.
The BCP version is longer, and better, in my not so humble opinion. It’s not simply about not murdering people. It is about not feeding into the institutions that murder people. And it is more than just murder. This commandment is about respecting the lives of others, and respecting our own lives. It asks us to respect all of God’s creation.
The BCP version goes even further than murder. It asks us to do the impossible; we need to not hate. I think that is important. I try to not hate and I know I fail at it, a lot. We all do. Being successful isn’t the point, trying to not hate or have malice is all we can do. If we aren’t even trying, then how can we say that we are following Jesus? Besides, it’s not the big things that matter; it’s the small ones that count. Every small change we make, every time we try our best, every bit of energy we put into loving others; will bring us a little closer to truly loving each other and God.
It’s really simple to say and hard to do. We are being tasked by God to respect our lives, the lives of others, and all of creation. It’s hard for me to do this because it is really hard. But I try and I think that is what God wants us to do. We are going to fail, and fail, and fail some more. That’s not imp ortant. As long as we try, the amount of hate in the world will go down. And that will lead to more love and peace and justice. God will not give us justice; it is our responsibility to create it for ourselves. Or as Terry Pratchett said, “YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.” Caps because it’s from Death in the Hogfather.