Covenant of Trust
September 17, 2017
How to boil a frog!
This is how you boil a frog: you don’t put him in cold water because he will jump out. You don’t put him in hot water because he will leap out quickly! However, if you put him in lukewarm water, feel-good water, just a few degrees above his body temperature, he will be comfortable and relax. Then every 3 minutes, you raise the temperature up 2 degrees. In about 30 minutes, He Will Be Cooked!!! Now, what is the point of the story? Being unaware of small changes, we get comfortable. Being unaware of small changes, we get comfortable with sin. We don’t commit murder, steal, or disrespect our parents, so we think we are doing just great. However, Jesus said in Matt. 5:20 that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees which means we have to go deeper, looking at the root of the sin. Starting with the first commandment of loving God with all our heart, then we must love our brothers and sisters, whom we can see, as ourselves, which validates our love for God. We must also be in His will and led by the Spirit of God. Being connected by the cross on both ends, vertical (between you and God) and horizontal (between you and others) is walking in the Spirit. Not being connected is Sin. Not loving, not forgiving, not reconciling is SIN!
Today I am going to speak about the 3 basic foundations of our faith but look at them from a different perspective or interpretation as they apply to God, Self, and Community.
The three are
- Understanding relationships and staying connected
- The relationship cycle
- Dealing with anger and conflict
WHAT IS SIN? Our understanding of sin should deepen and grow as we are in relationship with Christ. If we start at the beginning, we see that it was an issue of trust. The serpent said the same words God said to Eve, but added “surely” to question God’s desire for her well-being. This was questioning God’s purpose, His words, and unbelief in the consequences of their actions. They did not trust that God had their interest and well-being behind the command not to eat from the tree. The lack of trust broke the relationship between them and God and each other, not trusting God broke their connection to God. Up until then, they were of the same mind and spirit, and communicated freely. Do we acknowledge that it is sin when we don’t trust God? Or do we just look at the rules? Are we trusting Him today or questioning and complaining? Is that why it took the Israelites 40 years instead of 10 days because of their murmuring and complaining? Is that attitude impeding your progress to move forward, deeper?
Sin translated from both the Greek and the Hebrew mean the same thing, missing the mark or falling short of a standard. Sin is breaking the spirit of the law not just the rule. The law was to show us what a relationship is like. If I love you, I won’t steal from you. If I love you, I won’t covet what you have. It is all about relationship: Divine power vs Unilateral power, The Spirit vs the works of the flesh (that which is against God). Divine power is relational power. Is not that the reason God put enmity between us to repair the breech. He could have just started over but He still wanted to be in relationship so He went to plan B. Unilateral power is control and having to be right.
God – All sin is against God and against Him first. (2 Samuel 12:13)
Self – Sin also affects the sinner. Going back to our scripture reading, the reaction was shame, blame, hiding, lack of transparency, and communication and intimacy avoidance. Looking back at Genesis, we see that pattern. We still react to sin the same, we are embarrassed and ashamed, we blame others, hiding and masking our true self with the false, the mask; committing sins of omission or partial truths because the question was not specific enough? Do we shut down when we get angry? Scripture says to be angry and sin not. Don’t let the sun go down on our anger. Anger is neutral!! How we deal with it is the issue is the problem. I heard a great quote called 5X5 which says: If it is not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it. Do we react or respond? Or give the other the silent treatment? Are we still afraid of intimacy and commitment because we don’t trust?
Community – These sins (sins are actions and sin is the condition we are born into) ripple through the community sending shock waves, conflict, and undercurrents of discord. We have to call it out.
UNDERSTANDING RELATIONSHIPS AND STAYING CONNECTED
When I spoke to you some time ago at the Potter’s House, I talked to you about the relationship cycle and how to move through the land mines of being together. The stages in the cycle are infatuation, disillusionment, conflict, resolution, and re-choosing. I am just going to do a quick review because I want to focus on conflict and confrontation. We are born into relationships starting with our parents and families. Some of us have parents that reflect God and His character. Since sin is a condition of this world we are all born into, often we get ill-equipped dysfunctional parents, absent parents, and those who are trying but are just too young. Every relationship goes through cycles and if we understand where we are in the cycle we can face the challenges and the blessings of that stage. In review, if we don’t move through the stages and get stuck in conflict, we bail out, and start over with a new partner, new church, or new friends. The church nor our parents have equipped us to deal with conflict or confrontation in a caring, loving way.
God – We go through that cycle with our faith and experience with God. Looking at all the prophets and patriarchs, you see the same pattern, Job, Jonah, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus. Even Mother Teresa, with her depth of faith went through conflict and fighting with God. It is ok to fight with God. He can take it and it is good for you. (STORY: different kind of tears release different kinds of chemical and even show up differently in photographs-Goggle it)
Self – we go through it with ourselves. Even Mother Teresa with her strong faith went through the cycle many times.
Community – These ripple effects from sins against God are like shock waves through the community of faith. However, Christ has given us ways to deal with conflict in the church. Matt. 18:15-17 is clear. However, I have seen few if any practice the scriptural guidelines. The two that strike up the most discord is the tongue, being right, and anger. Scripture says: Be angry and sin not. Anger is neutral. A falsehood is not.
We are called to care: confront in love and gentleness our brother or sister alone. Listening and verifying what we heard, being open to a different interpretation though the facts are the same. (In my chaplain training, I learned to listen to the facts and help the patient reinterpret the event, not change the facts, but a different perspective on what they could mean). People generally change partners or churches and start over again. Members become revolving doors. The parents and the church need to teach how to handle confrontation and conflict for it will always be as long as there are people and sin.
If there is no reconciliation, then take 2 Elders or members with you and revisit the issue. Then if there is no resolution, then tell the church. And if they still refuse to listen, be polite but be at peace for you have done what is required. This might mean a structure to be set up in the church to deal with conflict in a loving, but care-confronting way with an extra dose of humility. Is there something in place, do we need to set up some structure? The beginning point for unresolved conflict is love, it is the identifying mark of Christ’s disciples. We must always walk and act in the Spirit with love and humility.
A covenant is a contract, a legal document between two parties that outline the responsibilities each has and the privileges, much like a marriage contract. In biblical times, this is how a covenant was made (STORY: the physical aspect of a covenant in Biblical times = animal cut in half and often dismembered, walk through the blood to visualize what would happen if covenant was broken)
God – God had a covenant of understanding because of their connection. When that trust was broken God gave his promise to save the relationship by putting enmity between Him and man to reconcile the relationships. He made 5 covenants after that with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus. Each extending the circle wider to include the world and giving each a choice. Symbolically, God shows us through the Ark of the Covenant, that relationship, His Presence, was above the law because the Shekinah showed up on the Mercy Seat. So His presence shows up when we show mercy.
Self – The covenant you made with Christ was your baptism of profession of faith. It was also sealed with his blood even though he did not break the covenant, we did.
Community – You have made a covenant with this community which is evident by your being here, being engaged in each other’s lives, and ministering to one another. Christ has called you and your community the ministry of reconciliation first with God, then ourselves, and lastly others. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having [i]committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
So, in conclusion, be aware of sin. Be intentional about looking and reflecting in your life so that your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees because you understand the law is about how to have healthy relationships and being connected to the Vine, your true self, and others in the community. We are inclined to break and be dysfunctional in relationships, therefore we must be intentional and faithful to work through the conflict confronting it as scripture has instructed us, getting help when need. And last, we must renew our covenant with God to be connected, walk in The Spirit, moment by moment and judge our sin as the disconnect from God’s Spirit. Therefore, all I do, be, and think, needs to be judged by my connection to God and I will bear, as a byproduct, not by effort, The Fruit of the Spirit. He will renew and transform my mind and finish the work He has started in me. My work is to stay connected. My work is to be in His Presence. My work is to love as He loved: God, Myself, and Others. My work is to stay connected to the Vine. Amen!
 Scripture in appendix for Genesis 3
 Scripture in appendix
 Chart with challenges and blessings in appendix
 Answer in appendix when she ask Mother Superior why she was suffering so much.
1. Proverbs 3 The Message (MSG)
- Don’t Assume You Know It All
3 1-2 Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you;
take to heart my commands.
They’ll help you live a long, long time,
a long life lived full and well.
3-4 Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.
The Fall: Genesis 3:1-13
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
- The Ten Commandments
Exodus 20 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lordmade the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
20 For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21 Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, [b]Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother [c]shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, [d]Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, [e]Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire. 23 If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, 24 leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Asked Mother Superior, why was she suffering so much? She answered, “Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus - a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you.” Mother Teresa responded by says, tell Jesus not to kiss me so much.
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin;
- If Your Brother Sins Against You
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[f] in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
22 And the glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one; 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that thou didst send me, and lovedst them, even as thou lovedst me.