February 8, 2014, Glendale City Church February 15, 2014, Vallejo Drive Church
Sixth Sabbath of Epiphany
The necessary pre-requisite understandings to this sermon:
- God loves us
- Jesus announced that God’s presence was in the world—“the kingdom of God is near”
- Jesus showed through his death and resurrection that there is nothing separating human beings from the divine—we are at peace—living in God’s grace
- The early church’s profound awareness of the Holy Spirit at work let them know that they were operating in the reign of God and that the earth was pervaded with the divine presence
Jesus’ sermon on the mount talks about what it means to live in the eternal reign of God that has already begun in our world
1 Corinthians 3.1-3, NRSV: And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you’re still not ready, for you’re still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, & behaving according to human inclinations?
- The call to follow Christ is a call to grow up
Matthew 5.21-26, NRSV: “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you’re angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you’ll be liable to the hell of fire. So when you’re offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come & offer your gift.
- Getting angry isn’t sin. Staying angry and using it to justify behavior is
- We run on an anger/rage economy
- Anger, bitterness and contempt:
- Destroy your humility and put you higher than others which is the reverse of the gospel
- Inhibit your relationships
- Breed dysfunction
Matthew 5.27-30, NRSV: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
- Admiring someone’s attractive body and personality is not sin
- Being drawn to them instead of the person you have devoted yourself to, isn’t sin: it’s temptation. Temptation, in the economy of God’s kingdom, is an invitation to examine where things are not right in your life and relationships and see what you need to change
- Using a person or the thought of them to compensate for a lack in your life is sin
- Reducing someone’s value because you don’t perceive them as physically attractive is also sin. Reducing people to objects and basing their worth on how much we think they have to offer is opposed to where God’s kingdom is headed
Matthew 5.31-32, NRSV: “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
- Divorce—biblical style. When a man divorced his wife, she had three options: become a servant in her family’s house; become a horribly mistreated second wife to a man who views her as damaged goods; or become a prostitute in order to provide for herself. Jesus didn’t want women to be treated so poorly anymore
- God desires that you do what is best for BOTH you AND the other, whether that is staying together—or getting divorced. Personal and relational health is always God’s ideal
- Letter-of-the-Law-keeping is a living at the minimum requirement for a civil society
- Kingdom-of-Heaven-living is living way above a mere preserving of civil society. It is something you continue to strive for—you never quite arrive. And the kingdom life grows out of love for people rather than a respect for law. Jesus calls us to enter into the kingdom life of love