Beyond the Pulpit

March 2019

Greetings; may the grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all.

One of the biggest obstacles to Santa Fe becoming a true community and an oasis of hope in Christ, is us… well our sinfulness anyway.

By definition, sin is rebellion against God and God’s will. The Greek word for sin is ‘hamartia’ – is an archery term which means ‘to miss the mark’ and the mark of God and God’s will for our humanity is relationship – a loving relationship with God, and with others. And so the obstacles to living in a Community in Christ are those things which hinder us from enjoying the loving relationships which God offers us in Christ.

We have lots of excuses for the actions which we know are sinful, but I think the real issue goes back to the very beginning, back to garden and the first temptation.  Genesis 3 tells it like this, Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

O, we would love to blame it all on the serpent, or Satan (whose role we should not too quickly over-look), or even God for tempting us, but we all know that the real issue is that we are just like Adam and Eve; desire what they did, to “be like God.”  God had offered them everything they needed and more, but that wasn’t good enough.  They desired to be like God, to be equal with God, to be in control.

God created us for a loving and trusting covenant relationship, but our desire to be in control drags us down into a sin that constitutes turning away from our relationship with God in order to pursue the desires of our own heart.

Sin drove us from the paradise of the garden and that intimate presence of God.  And it continues to do so.

If you want a good case study in Scripture, go to the Book of Judges.  It relates to us the stories of the days between the Exodus and the Kings of Israel.  God had brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, established them in their own land, and desires to rule them as their king.  But alas, it was not meant to be. The cycle begins and repeats itself over and over again, the people do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, God punishes them, they cry out, God sends a judge to save them, and then it starts all over again.  It is a descending spiral that ultimately leads to civil war in Israel and the near destruction of one of the tribes.  But what is most telling is the last sentence in the book, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Our sin, is an exercise in EGO, which can be viewed as an acronym for Edging God Out.  Being the sinners we are, we constantly want to replace God’s intention with our own. We become self-centered rather than God-centered or Christ centered.   And it is this often arrogant view of the world that causes so much damage to living in a community in Christ, because it damages not only our relationship with God, but also with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Your servant in Christ, Mitch