Sunday, February 12, 2017

It All Seems So Simple, Doesn't It?

6 Sun OT Yr A (2017)
Ss. Peter & Paul/Danville

It all seems so simple, doesn’t it?  What’s the big deal, right?  Choose and trust. If you choose to keep the commandments, they will save you.  Simple.  If you trust in God, you too shall live.  No big deal…


Except – well, except apparently it is a big deal.  Because from our first parents thousands of years ago until now, who among us has been able to just choose to keep the commandments?  You can eat any fruit you want – except this one – this one tree over here, leave it alone.  If you eat this fruit you will surely die.  Simple.  Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.  Don’t murder – the unborn or the elderly or even the criminal.  Don’t take their life – and don’t be angry either.  Simple.  Don’t use the gift of your sexuality however feels good – it’s powerful and meant for a purpose; use it only in a forever union of man and woman.  Physically and mentally, preserve this gift of sexuality for what is true marriage.  Simple.

If you choose to keep the commandments, they will save you.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  This fruit looks good to eat, surely it won’t kill me.  This pregnancy is inconvenient to me, surely it’s my body so it’s my choice.  He killed her so surely we should kill him.  It seems like marriage should be between whoever wants to be married for as long – and only as long – as they want to be.  Who is God to tell me what I can do with my anger, my sexuality, my love?  


Is it a choice problem, or a trust problem?

For as long as there have been people, we’ve had difficulty choosing to follow God’s commandments.  And I think that’s because we have a trust problem.  We don’t trust God to know whether a fruit is good for us or not.  Surely the one who eats know better than the one who plants the fruit what is good for the belly.  Who is God to tell me what to do with my body and mind – they’re mine aren’t they?  I’ll love who I love however I want to love – because I know better than anyone else what’s good for me.  Trust God?  Sure – when He tells me what I want to hear.  But trust that He knows better than me?  Nah – I’ll pass…


If we believed about God what we say week after week we believe about Him, we’d solve both our trust problem and our choice problem.  “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth…”  

Wait…what?  Creator.  Creator?  


Maybe – just maybe all those “commands” are something other than arbitrary boundaries imposed on us to make us live lives a certain way.  “You can eat any fruit you like but this one.”  Was that a command designed to keep us from some pleasure that would make us very happy?  Was God trying to save the best fruit for Himself, and keep it from us?  Was it just a trick question – a test for His amusement?  When He said if we ate the fruit of that tree we’d surely die, was it a cruel punishment that He was going to exact on us for having the audacity to displease Him? “Do as I say or I’ll have your hide?”  Or is it possible that, being the Creator, God knew us and knew the garden so well that His command was a protection spoken out of love?

Don’t touch the stove when it’s hot; don’t run down the stairs.  Are the burnt fingers and bruises punishment?  Don’t eat the fruit; don’t kill; don’t commit adultery; don’t lie.


It all seems so simple, doesn’t it? If you choose to keep the commandments, they will save you.  If you trust in God, you too shall live.  Simple, right?  Well – it would be, if we trusted God at His word… But we have difficulty with that.  It is simple – but far from easy.

That’s why Jesus came friends – that’s why He comes here again today on this altar.  God created us to be with Him forever – He created us to be like Him – but the difference in our vantage point seemed too difficult for us to overcome.  Created so much like the Creator Himself, from the very beginning we struggle to remember that we are creature, not creator.  And we attempt to substitute our wisdom for His; we mistake the love expressed in His commands for artificial boundaries; we misunderstand freedom to be an absence of any boundary instead of the authentic freedom which listens to the voice of God and hears the caution of a loving parent:  don’t touch that, it’ll burn…

What we understand instinctively about parenting children we reject in our relationship with God…because we forget that He always has been and will be our Father; we struggle with the idea of forever being His children…

We struggle to hear care and concern in His commands, we’re unable to see God’s love written in our very existence…so Jesus came to show us once and for all the depth and breadth of His love.  I will die for you to make up for all you’ve misunderstood and ignored, if you’ll just believe that I’ve done it.  I’ll hang on this cross for you, and hide in the bread and wine forever for you, if you’ll just see my love in the completeness of my gift for you. 

If you choose to keep the commandments, they will save you.  It’s simple really, I love you.  If you trust in God, you too shall live.  It’s simple, really – I died for you…why would I lie to you?  

“Before you are life and death, good and evil; whichever you choose I’ll give to you.” 

Because I love you…