Running from the Past
So, we moved to Edinburgh about a week ago now. The city is amazing. I have loved the fact that I can walk pretty much anywhere. Great coffee shops abound (even though right now I find myself in a Starbucks... free internet is free internet). Taryn and I have explored the city a little bit as we search for a place to live.
One of the fascinating things that I have heard from a pastor with whom I met was that Edinburgh is an incredibly secular city. Now, I knew that many of the vestiges of the Reformation have been left behind in this city. I knew that people really have walked away from the faith, but to hear that maybe 5% of the population attend any church was startling.
As I thought about this and our exploration of the city the dichotomy that you see is remarkable. All around Edinburgh, the city bears witness to its past, to the tradition that has been handed down, but the people of the city, the culture implicitly rejects that witness and thus seems to argue that the city bears false witness. That is to say, the city itself breaks the ninth commandment.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. - Exodus 20:16
Now, I know that an inanimate object does not have the ability to break a commandment per say. However, what the monuments in Edinburgh would claim is that this city honors the Lord. Nevertheless, what the current culture in Edinburgh says is that it honors another god (or gods).
The ninth commandment most explicitly points the need to control our tongues especially with regard to lying. Lying about someone (i.e. slander). Lying for someone (i.e. perjury). Lying to someone (i.e. speaking falsehood). All of this because as Augustine said, "The tongue inflicts greater wounds than the sword." Thus, we are commanded to guard our tongues.
However, it implicitly points to the necessity of guarding a person's reputation or vindicating someone. We must work hard to clear a person's name who has been falsely accused. This means that in this commandment, as we have seen in all of them up to this point, there is both a call to flee from sin and to pursue righteousness.
As I think about Edinburgh, its history and its present, and as I have had opportunities to chat with at least one pastor, the prayer I have heard is that there be a great revival in this city. Quite literally the prayer is that it stop breaking the ninth commandment. That the city prove true to what it proclaims to be, a great city of the Reformation. That comes through people in the church reaching out to their neighbors with the Gospel. It comes through churches preaching the Gospel across the city.
Yet still, before Edinburgh as a city will ever live up to the heritage it proclaims to still have, there needs to be reformation in the hearts of the people in the churches. You see, when we proclaim that we are Christians, yet our lives proclaim something different, we declare God to be a liar. We bear false witness against God. Therefore, the first step toward true reformation in our homes, in our churches, in our society, is true reformation in our hearts. Keeping the ninth commandment in our wider context starts with keeping the ninth commandment in our own lives. That is proclaiming God to be truthful with every part of our lives.
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