It has always amazed me how some Christians hold to the Ten Commandments as being central to their Christian faith. Please do not misunderstand—I don’t have a problem with the Ten Commandments. I have a problem with making the Ten Commandments the essence of the Christian faith (there is an Old and a New Testament). Jesus gave us the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) and a new commandment often called the Eleventh. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34, KJV).
Ronald Reagan gave us an Eleventh Commandment, too, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” A rule, Reagan said, he followed during his presidential campaign and even after he became president. (I don’t think Mr. Reagon applied this rule to Democrats). Jeffrey Archer has titled one of his mystery novels, The Eleventh Commandment. So we have several Eleventh Commandments, but there is yet another Eleventh Commandment that is heavy on my mind this morning.
|Costa Rica Rain Forest|
Some years ago I read about a group calling themselves “The Eleventh Commandment Fellowship.” The group was based in California and its mission was to encourage local churches to pay attention to environmental pollution, the degradation of the earth, and to promote a Christian ecology. The group no longer seems to exist, but their Eleventh Commandment still speaks, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of life thereof; thou shalt not despoil the earth nor destroy the life thereon.”
This Eleventh Commandment (or maybe it should be the Twelfth) about ecology is an important one. We are all aware of the plight of the elephant, the rhino, giraffe, and the tiger. Someday these beautiful animals will be non-existent. We are aware of the oil spills from vessels and pipelines in recent years in Alaska, Antartica, Morocco, North Dakota, Russia, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, and on and on. We know about the garbage that is being dumped in the oceans and ending up on beaches around the world from Ocean City, Maryland, to the Black Sea. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan sent junk into the Pacific which ended up on the shore of Oregon. We know about Chernobyl and the desecration of the rain forests. We know about the Greenhouse effect, and we know about Climate Change. We know, we are aware. Do we care? Apparently not very much, for we have not yet added Jesus’ "new commandment" or this other Eleventh (or Twelfth) Commandment to the original Ten.
11: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another”
12: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of life thereof; thou shalt not despoil the earth or destroy the life thereon.”