Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sinning Like A Christian: Lust

This week we end the sermon series Sinning Like a Christian with the last deadly sin: lust. The sin of lust is the trickiest of them all. Sex or lust specifically is the least talked about subject in the Bible. Money is the most talked about subject but you will hear more preachers in many mainline churches speak on the evils of sex or sexual orientation more than they will address money, hunger, helping those in need.  Church and sex have been sort of taboo. However in this day and time we have more curiosity in sexuality or sex than Jesus did. We often overlook the simple fact that for survival all creatures must procreate. It’s natural part of our humanity. Lust has always been around from King David voyeurism of Bathsheba to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Today the highest grossing commerce on the internet is porn. Addiction to pornography is the fastest growing addiction for both male and female.  This is because accessibility, no accountability, and full anonymity.  50 Shades of Gray sold over 100 million copies as well as one of the highest grossing movies.  What use to be only a male dominated consumption now there are as many women as men indulging in porn commerce. This is a way of saying that even though sex has been always been around since creation, none the less, times are a changing. Lust has expanded over time and generations.  The problem with the sin of lust is the simple fact that according to Jesus, there needs to be no action. Jesus says the sin of lust happens in the heart. It is no difference from sleeping with a person than looking at a person lustfully.  Desire is good. Desire is a God given thing. But desire misdirected, misused, leads to sin. Sexual improprieties will be the leading headline every time. As a society we are intrigued by headlines of celebrities, politicians, and famous people caught up in sexual wrong doings. The church and society rather spend time debating, defending, and arguing over sexual orientation than sharing God’s love, mercy, and grace with those struggling in life. The thing about lust is that it doesn’t grow. You hot for someone or our not. But love grows. And as love grows in a committed relationship, lust doesn’t increase; true love will intensifies and sustained the desire throughout time.
So no matter what our sin is, whether it is one of the seven or another, God wants to hear about our sin. God wants to hear it so we have to tell it to Him in order to be forgiven of our sin so that we might compass the full depth, the great height, and the breath of God’s love. Confessing to God, or repenting whatever you wish to call it, releases us of the burden of sin. We are saved by God’s grace just as we are. Not how God or others want us to be. Jesus Christ said upfront and honestly “I have come to seek the lost, to save the lost.”  And here he found people like you and me. Christ seems to have rather remarkable transformed a basic deceitful person into sort of a saint or a better person. That makes us a miracle. We are a surprising work of God. Yet we are still learning how to see ourselves as God sees us. We are still transforming. We are still holding up the mirror of truth that makes us look at ourselves. We are still learning to see the imagine God sees in us. Mired in the muck of sin and yet destined by God to stand up and shine as the blessed children of God. There will always be tension in the Christian life as we find ourselves stretched between two poles, having two natures, torn between two alternatives. Yet there are also the quiet convictions that gradually, day by day, decision by decision with God in Christ leading us, coaxing us, sometimes dragging us kicking and screaming into a better life and into a better self.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Gluttony: Sinning Like a Christian

Gluttony is a hard sin to grasp. Even though it’s hard to define it can be more than we think. The church has forced this link between food and sin. It may come from Genesis and the whole eating of the fruit thing. Regardless we should take it serious because Jesus took it seriously. If you recall the first temptation of Christ was after he had fasted for forty days in the wilderness was the temptation of food. The first charges against Jesus by the church leaders were not his theological principles, his teaching, or his preaching. The first charges brought against him were surrounding the eating habits of his disciples. The religious leader asked Jesus why does John the Baptist disciples fast and your disciples eat and drink? Jesus answer was vague but we cannot deny that Jesus talks a lot about parties, feasts, and eating in his parables. When Jesus ended his ministry, not his life but his public ministry, he did it with a meal: Bread and a cup. He said that the food and drink stood for everything he was and is.
So what is gluttony and why is gluttony a sin? Jesus' concern is not what gluttony does to your body but what it does to your soul. There are times when the gut becomes more important than the soul. Most of us believe that we are created in the image of God. When we indulge of excess of food we exchange the image of God in us of that of a slug and a pig. We become purely eating machines. Just like every other animal. We lose self-control. We lose the only thing that singles us out from other animals. Here me clearly. This has nothing to do with weight, body image or body size. It’s about self-control or the ability or inability to stop when we feel satisfied.
Gluttony is sinful to the degree that some of us consume too much in a world where others don’t have enough of the bare necessities of life. I heard somewhere by someone a lot wiser than I say “in the world we don’t have a hunger problem only a compassion and distribution problem.” But sin of gluttony is not limited to food. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Netflix, can be just as harmful or more harmful as over eating. Addictions are the umbrella of gluttony. We have food network channels, people take pictures of their food and share it with their friends, there is even a term called Food Porn and Foodies. But gluttony is not about overeating. People who obsess over food, people who count calories, people who try to tell you everything that is bad in the food that you are eating. Obsessing over food in either way is gluttony. So when does our concern for food become too much concern? That is what concerns Jesus C.S. Lewis describes gluttony as “getting what you want regardless however troublesome it is to others.” So where’s the sin? We all have to eat to survive. We can’t quit cold turkey or we will die. It is not the sin we despise as much as it’s the results of the sin. It’s not that we eat too much or obsess over food too much but the fact that the result is an overweight or unhealthy body that makes this sin unpleasant.  It’s the guilt, shame, and sadness that accompanies gluttony that makes it similar to other sins. How many of us would be the first to admit to the fact that if we could eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, as much as we wanted and never gain a pound or still have a healthy functioning body? I am all in. If we could indulge and not feel the after affects we would never see it as a sin. The problem is when we look in the mirror and sin looks a lot like us.


Monday, May 11, 2015


If we look at our current social climate it is one can see that greed is worst enemy. Out of the Seven Deadly Sins greed is the one that hard to grasp because it fuels other sins. Greed is the gasoline on the fire to sins. Greed turns love into lust, leisure into sloth, hunger into gluttony, honor into pride, righteous indignation into anger, and admiration into envy.  Greed tends to be private, stingy because there is something about Greed that puts us in competition with our neighbors and ultimately in alienation from them.  We all want more. We live by the motto of is a little is good then a lot is even better.  Simply stated the more we have the more we want. To feel better about our own greed is we tend to justify it by deflecting to corporate greed.  Isn’t the real problem of with our society is those fat cats on Wall Street? They are greedy, not us in church. The problem is desires have a way of mimicking need. In the marketing game the trick is to move us from what we desire to what we need. We live in a society ruled by the Constitution that gives us all certain rights. The sole purpose of this democracy is to give us our rights. Perhaps we are among  the first generation in our society to realize that desire has a way of being elevated to the level of need and needs gets further inflated to the level of rights. Our rights are this ever expanding list because our desires are bottomless.  I means isn’t it everyone’s right to own a cell phone. Perhaps we should starting thinking about the church as teaching us about our desires. It is here we learn how to want the right amount, things in the right way and in the right proportions. We need the type of character that is able to look at the world and all it has to offer and at certain key moments simply say, “Thank you but I am now satisfied.” It takes a huge amount of moral stamina to say, “yes I can afford it, but we are not going to buy it, because it does little to contribute to the basic goodness of our lives.” The Christian faith says that church is not about getting what we want but rather getting what God wants. When we do this God has a good time. We grab and consume, to a great degree, because we do not really know what we want, and so we grab everything in desperate fear that we might say no to the one thing that might give our lives some meaning. We need to as Jesus put it “have in mind the concerns of God and not the concerns of humanity.” Jesus reminds us that while the two maybe as one, the world in which we live in will constantly try to stretch, wear down, or erode their commonality. Greed will slowly drag us into other sins. Let us not be trapped. Let us teach our children and grandchildren well and let us receive the joy and peace that is only found in God’s way.. Join us as we uncover the dangers of sin and what we can do so God can have a good time..
Hope to see you in service..