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The First Commitment for 2021

Commandment or commitment? The difference is free will. See what I mean in this week’s edition of Isn’t That Ironic?”.

You’ve heard of the Ten Commandments. You may, or may not, have heard of Neale Donald Walsch and his Ten Commitments. It’s his interesting take on the Ten Commandments. Today, I’ll look at the first one.

Neale Donald Walsch is a pretty ordinary guy, at least he was until he started complaining loudly to God—and God answered him. That’s what Neale says. You’re free to think what you want. He claims to have experienced “automatic writing”, as many other mystics have throughout the ages. Basically, his pen moves on the page in his hand but not under his volition. It’s movements and the words it writes come not from him, but from some unseen entity. In this case, that entity apparently claims to be God. I can’t vouch for the veracity of this one way or the other. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. God has never answered my complaints that way.

In any case, Neale Donald Walsch has produced some interesting books (the “Conversations with God” series) with some unconventional ideas about God and the nature of reality. He says there is no such thing as the Ten Commandments. The Word of God is a covenant, not a commandment. You are free to enter into this spiritual commitment—or not. Do you want to take this spiritual journey? Do you want a closer relationship with God? The choice is yours. But if you do, here are some things you’ll notice.

From Conversations with God:

You shall know that you have taken the path of God, and you shall know that you have found God. …for there will be these signs, these indications, these changes in you. These are your freedoms, not your restrictions.

1. You shall love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul. And there shall be no other God set before Me. No longer will you worship human love, or success, or power, nor any symbol thereof. You will set aside these things as a child sets aside toys. Not because they are unworthy, but because you have outgrown them.

There is only a slight change in tone between this and the first commandment you are used to. Here, love is your choice, you are free to accept it or reject it, because God gives you free will. You are not commanded to love God. But as you progress on your spiritual path, you will choose the love of God and love for God.

To love God is fundamental, so everything begins here. Really, it is everything. We know God is omnipresent, existing everywhere. In fact, everything we perceive is in God, for it is in God that “we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Without loving God, we really cannot love anything.

From another perspective, St. John tells us that God is love. In love, we are drawn into oneness with God, who is love. As well, all love comes from God. The love we feel or express is God, whom we allow to express through us. When love flows through us, God flows through us—we allow ourselves to be expressions of God in the world. To the extent we love, we experience oneness with God.

Outside of God, who is love, there is no real love, but only poor substitutes that we humans mistake for love: lust, need, dependency, comfort, etc. Therefore, the most fundamental choice we have to make is whether or not to love God. We can make no progress along the spiritual path until we choose to love God.

Love is the way—the only way. You may recall that the first disciples of Jesus were called followers of “The Way”. The “way” that Jesus taught was the way of love. It’s ironic that humans have made the simple path of Jesus so complicated, so restricted by rules, so dogged by dogma. He made it abundantly clear that the key is love, the goal is love, the way is love.

As you set for yourself new resolutions, new goals, new commitments for this new year, why not try this first commitment? Begin by loving God.

God Bless You!

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