Monday, June 11, 2007

Sin Is Not...

Imagine – Close your eyes. Imagine your looking at the world around you through sin-goggles. You can’t see people, all you see are the sins that are right here in this room. What do you see?

What does sin look like? How do you “get rid” of sin?
Where does sin go when we get rid of it?

To help us look at this question…we go to two stories most of us probably grew up hearing.
Both stories were used to keep me away from girls for a while when I was young…
The story of a man named Samson. – Judges 13-16

Samson was born to Manoah and his wife. An Angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife, and basically told her Samson would be a Nazarite

Nazarites: (Jesus was from Nazareth (a Nazarene), but we do not think He’d taken a Nazarite vow)
• Abstain from wine, wine vinegar, grapes, raisins, and according to some - alcohol and vinegar from alcohol
• Refrain from cutting the hair on one's head – Samson’s hair was longer than in the cartoon. 
o Hair seen as a sexual organ, and feminine. Would’ve been mocked by Gentiles.
• Avoid corpses and graves, even those of family members, and any structure which contains such
• Several other rules/observances, and 3 sacrifices made at the end.
• You could declare a nazarite vow for anything over 30 days, and as long as a lifetime. – Even with lifetime, different levels.
• Samson and Samuel – both declared before born, strength and prophecy.
Nazarite – means literally – one separated or one consecrated
Samson and Delilah – Bound with bowstrings, new ropes, weave the hair, finally…covenant broken.
- BUT SAMSON’S HAIR WAS NOT MAGIC!! There was a relationship and a covenant with God as a Nazarite before birth even.
2nd Story we’re looking at this morning, even more crucial to our understanding of sin…
ADAM and EVE – I’ve talked about this before, but please bear with me… - Genesis – God creates, lives among Adam and Eve in perfect relationship.
We’ve heard the story before, Eve was fooled by the snake (a symbol of immortal evil – shedding of the skin, etc) into taking a piece of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – This was not a magic fruit! They had been instructed to not eat from that tree, as a part of their relationship with God.
2 Trees – This one, and the Tree of Life. We don’t understand completely what either tree is/was. But we know that before things happened…they ate from any tree, including the tree of life, and lived together and with God. After disobeying God, and having a broken relationship, they were cast out of the garden, so that they could not eat from the tree of Life anymore (Genesis 3:22-23)
A relationship between us and God had been broken, and God did not want that to become something that lived forever (hell).
You see, Samson didn’t have a thick coat of sin over his eyes, so he couldn’t see anymore.
Adam and Eve didn’t ingest sin, and have “it” become a part of their physical being. They didn’t “look” different.
SIN – A few different forms used in the New Testament. But the form most commonly used by Jesus was from the root verb “hamartano”, meaning “to be without a share in” or “to miss or wander from the path of God, by a single person or by many”.
So many times, when we talk about sin, we talk as if it’s this “thing” that exists. We “collect” so much of it…it gets “heavier and heavier”…we “let go of our sins at the alter”. We worry about how free we are from having any sin on us, as if it’s something that others or even God sees when they look at us.
But “SIN” does not exist separate from a human being. You will never come home, or go to work, and find a big pile of “sin” laying around. You can’t shove it in a closet. You can’t sell it on E-bay. Because of that, we MUST focus on the our relationship with God, and stop being so afraid of this “thing” that sin is or isn’t.
“I live in a small, rural community. There are lots of cattle ranches around here, and, every once in a while, a cow wanders off and gets lost . . . Ask a rancher how a cow gets lost, and chances are he will reply, 'Well, the cow starts nibbling on a tuft of green grass, and when it finishes, it looks ahead to the next tuft of green grass and starts nibbling on that one, and then it nibbles on a tuft of grass right next to a hole in the fence. It then sees another tuft of green grass on the other side of the fence, so it nibbles on that one and then goes on to the next tuft. The next thing you know, the cow has nibbled itself into being lost."
Americans are in the process of nibbling their way to being lost. . . We keep moving from one tuft of activity to another, never noticing how far we have gone from home or how far away from the truth we have managed to end up.” - Mike Yaconelli, "The Wittenburg Door."
And so, our reading of the words of Jesus become a little more clear, as we see sin not as this “object” – like a piece of clothing we can put on or take off…but a broken relationship, a separation from God’s plan.
John 5:14 – the man at the pool “you have been made well! Do not (separate yourself from God) anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you!
Matthew 5:29 – “if your right eye causes you to (have a broken relationship with God), tear it out and throw it away.”ETC…
Romans 3:23 – “for all have (broken their original relationship with God), and fall short of the glory of God”
And the same could be said for many aspects of our lives…

Love does not exist. Love Happens. – “agapao” – to love dearly or be well pleased
- Corinthians – “If I speak in tongues of men and angels….”
- it does no good for me to collect all the love I have for you, and put it in a measuring cup, and say “I have this much love for you”.
Holiness does not exist. Holiness Happens. – “hagiazo” – to consecrate to God, to purify
- It’s impossible for me to hold my life up to a holiness ruler, and measure just how tall my “Holiness Height” is. It is something from God, alive and moving through my life in relation to others.

And there lies the challenge to us, the Church.
- If we’re doing NOTHING with our lives…we’re not even good sinners.
- God the Father (Giver), God the Son (Gift), God the HS (the Giving)
- We must act. We must live. We must allow God to transform us and move through our lives. We must DO based on Love. We must MOVE based on the Spirit of God. He calls us to nothing less…

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