Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sermon--Symptom: Murder

          I don’t know if you remember the show Diagnosis: Murder, it starred Dick Van Dyke, ran for 8 seasons… well, I don’t so much want to talk to you about the show, as talk to you about the title.
Diagnosis: Murder.
If Jesus is right, and I think he is, then…
Murder isn’t the diagnosis—only a symptom,
Adultery isn’t a diagnosis—only a symptom,
False oaths aren’t a diagnosis—only a symptom.
          Today we’re going to go beyond symptom to diagnosis.
          Going beyond symptom to diagnosis is an important thing, one is descriptive, the other prescriptive
I think about all the obituaries in this sad little town in Texas I once lived in—the cause of death in every case was “Heart stopped.” While not untrue… maybe unhelpful.
          And so too, Jesus looks at the commandments—you know, the ones that he fulfills—and suggests that the thou shall nots, unmoored from their deeper cause, become about as useful as the diagnosis, “heart stopped.”

          So, let’s think about these a bit.
          Murder, as a rule, doesn’t come out of a vacuum, it is the ratcheted up result of growing resentment, choosing not to reconcile.
Every insult and jape and jest and accusation
—a step along the road to snuffing out the life of a Child of God.
          Yes, anger is a sickness, left untreated we hold hate toward another human being; not reconciling with our neighbors, becomes natural… small murders and steps toward murder, multiply.
          As for us, we are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.

          Affairs rarely start, or end for that matter, in the bedroom, and when we lead with lust we rarely have the best interest of the other person at heart.
-And, to be clear—because some of you out there right now are squirming,
Squirming on account of your own divorce or for those of family members—there are times when divorce is the greater good, sometimes the only option even, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that broken relationship is a tragedy, and has lasting consequences for the soul, body, and community.
          Yes, lust is a sickness, left untreated it makes marriages brittle; it transforms people we are in relationship with, people we love, into things, which we lust after.
          As for us, we are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse.

Symptom—False Oaths
          Isn’t it strange that in court we swear on a bible that we’re telling the truth, we often say things like, “I swear to God,” to indicate something is true, even if it is far fetched? We do so because the danger of spreading falsehood is every-present… if we told the truth, and were known as being trustworthy, we’d have no need of oaths.
          Yes, falsehood is a sickness, left untreated it allows for lies and truth to be interchangeable, for the two to be interspersed in such a way that oaths and swearing and threat of perjury are the only way to discern if someone is lying—no one can trust anyone else, and all the words in the world are nothing more than babble.
          As for us, we are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.

          All these diseases dehumanize.
-You aren’t worth the time and humility it takes to reconcile with.
-You are nothing more than a sex object to me.
-You can’t handle the truth.
          In the Kingdom of Heaven, we are called to really take other people seriously.
Would you really do that to him if you saw him as created in the image of God?
Would you really treat her like that if she’s a beloved Child of God?

          Think of the word disease
—dis, ease…
doing kingdom work, is hard and it is uncomfortable.
Reconciling with someone is hard. There are after all plenty of people out there who will gladly help you nurse a grudge…
Working on marriage and seeing your relationship with a person as it is, can take a toll.
Speaking clear truth, even taking the time to know what the contours of the truth are, is exhausting.

Finally, this kingdom work is ongoing. There are no quick fixes
—while Jesus admonishes us to go and reconcile with someone quickly, he does not say reconciliation itself is a quick process.
We need to hold close to our hearts the reality that these diseases are out there, and in here… and that we’re always stumbling, we’re always susceptible to them.
I say this, not to frighten us into paralysis, but to prepare us for temptation, and ready us to serve our neighbor in their times of trial.