Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How Do You Like Them Apples?

I am always amazed at how many oft-repeated sayings people seem to think originated in the Bible. For instance, “God helps those who help themselves.”  Can’t find that in Bible, no matter how hard you look.  In fact, Lent reminds us that just the opposite of this statement is true: “While we were yet helpless…” is what the Bible really says; when we were helpless, he saved us.  
Then there is the classic version of the story of Adam and Eve and their chomping on a forbidden apple. That version is so ingrained in our culture that we assume it must have come right from the Good Book. But the Bible doesn’t say anything about an apple. It could have been a banana or kumquat,  for all the Bible tells us. It does make for a nice image though, one that persists in our culture in phrases like “one bad apple spoils the barrel.” Guess that is true, but still not in the Bible.  
So what do apples and pithy, overused platitudes have to do with the ten commandments? This week in the series we will examine the eighth commandment, “thou shall not steal.” Last week in worship I talked about the sex saturated society we inhabit, but we also live in a consumer driven culture.  James Moore reminds us, “Modern advertising, with all of its enticements, can create a strong desire for more and more things. And this desire can make us do strange things”.
He goes on to tell the following story (here is where the apples come in): All of us are like the little boy standing by the apple barrel in the country store. He kept looking at the apples and then looking away. Finally the grocer went over and said, ‘Son , are you trying to steal an apple?  No sir, replied the little boy.  I’m trying real hard not to!”  
The more you linger with the eighth commandment, the more you discover there are other things besides apples that you can steal. You can steal or rob a person of joy, a good day and even hope.  I wonder, is there something that no one can steal?  I think there is, I’ll tell you about it on Sunday.   In the meantime, remember; “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  

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