Sunday, February 16, 2014

Whaddya Say?

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
on Matthew 5:21-37, Jesus expands on some familiar laws

Warning: I'm going to say the F-bomb. 
In my first church there was a feisty teen I'll call "the Queen." The Queen was upset one day because her mom punished her for using the word "frick" instead of saying the F-word. Her objection: saying “frick” is not the same as saying the F-bomb! So she did a market test, asking random strangers their opinion. The results? A mixture of no and yes. "Frick" is less offensive and more socially acceptable, but it's an obvious replacement. As the nation found out a few years ago, even if you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. Bottom line: don't make a habit of using it.
How do you learn things, by hearing, or by doing? Both. James 1:22 be not just hearers but doers. The Queen heard rule but had to test it. Why are the rules there? Per our morning reading of Deuteronomy 30:16, so that it may go well with you, so that you may live. God gives free will; we have to learn its use. And we will fall.  But by the grace of God, "we are going on to perfection."
At the end of last week's scripture Jesus said disciples had to be more righteous than the Pharisees. Today we transition to Jesus giving some examples about that. Format: "you've heard it said, but I say to you..." but Jesus doesn't refute/contradict, but instead builds on, stacks, goes deeper. What you've heard is righteous, the righteousness of the Pharisees. A disciple must needs be more righteous.
You've heard it said... whaddya say? Let's go deeper.
Regarding murder (6th commandment). Hate (and acting out on it, speaking from it) is in heart and spirit the same. A disciple is not mindlessly controlled by anger but disciplined, self-controlled (hello, fruit of the spirit!) and humble. A disciple recognizes that their enemy (the object of their hate) is beloved of God, and to hate that one is to hate one that God loves... A disciple values human relationship and masters their passion.
Regarding adultery (7th commandment). Lust (and acting out on it...) is in heart and spirit the same. A disciple is not mindlessly controlled by lust but disciplined and self-controlled... (sounding familiar?). BTW porn is bad, it is like cancer, I can help you be free.
Regarding divorce – not the same as today when women can own property – Divorce legally allowed... the passage Jesus quotes says that a man can divorce a woman (not vice-versa) “because he finds something objectionable about her, or she does not please him.” (Deut 24:1). Pretty vague. It's allowed, it's abused by small fickle men. Wives are not property to be traded or sold. They're women. They're people. They're beloved of God. Be righteous. Whaddya say.
Regarding speaking the truth... Speak the truth. To steal a phrase from Nike, just do it. Those who swear make a big deal out of it. Yes-yes, no-no.
Point out our hymns today:
400 Come thou fount of every blessing...
468 Dear Jesus in whose life I see...
410 I want a principle within...
These hymns are about internalizing the heart of Jesus, which perfectly embodies the heart of God...
...which is how you learn to discern... (recall Romans 12:2, Philippians 2:12)...
...which is intimacy with God... 
...which is what God wants... 
Why? So that it may go well with you.

directly into affirmation of faith 883

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