This is the message that Maria Busse of the Monroe United Methodist Church will present at this Saturday’s (February 16th) morning worship at Grannie Annie’s Kitchen. We open the doors at 8, begin with the worship and then serve what some say is the best breakfast in Newburgh. You are welcome to come for the worship and the breakfast.
After hearing those verses I am sure that some of you out there are sitting there squirming just a bit…I know I squirmed when I read them myself. Immediately what came to mind was that old cartoon “Scooby-Doo, Where are You?” with the voice of Scooby speaking in dog talk to his pal Shaggy – “Rut Ro Raggy!”(meaning-Uh-Oh, Shaggy!) which surely meant that trouble was coming.
I am also sure that some of you now are thinking- “Great, now I have to sit here and listen about all the things I am doing wrong because of my sin to my flesh…Couldn’t she have picked another set of verses that won’t make me feel guilty about how I live my life? The excuses we make to ourselves may now be forming a list in your head and growing so rapidly that you are not hearing me even now. I’m here to tell you now…RELAX… because just like anyone in this room and for that matter anyone who has ever walked this Earth besides Jesus is guilty of misdeeds to the body.
So very quickly let’s get the list out of the way so that we can put it up on the shelf to be worked on at another time. Let’s all be bold and fill in the blank. In your minds I would like you complete the following statement- “When it comes to sins of the flesh-what I need to put to death is my addiction to_______.” In my research for this sermon I needed to answer my own curiosity (an addiction in itself) about how many different types of addiction there are out there. I can’t and won’t read the list now…it would take waaay too long! Here are a few I came across: Body building, applause, self-help books, coin collecting, husbands, people pleasing, X-Box and even prayer without action. I bet you thought I was going to read the usual suspects didn’t you?
Put plainly – anything that we overly do is in itself an addiction. Why? Because all addictions simply block positive energy flow to the body. Even something as harmless as coin collecting can become an obsession that leads to other negative behaviors for example- stealing to buy a rare and much sought after coin that has come on the market. ALL addictions usually start with a positive result but end up becoming a commitment in themselves. Chocolate cake? Very yummy, but if you are eating it morning, noon, night and in between, going to sleep dreaming of it- that is what we can say is overdoing it.
Paul says this in verses 10 and 11:
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
In these verses Paul says if we believe that Christ is in us then our bodies are righteous beings, living a life that is right with God. That the Spirit of God lives in our earthly bodies.
So why do we sin? Why do we sin to the flesh especially? Is it about control or is it about situations we can’t control? We try to cover bitterness in our lives with any and everything out there that might take it away. Be it drinking or smoking or overeating or promiscuity…these separate us from those around us who we don’t want to hear anyway or get no answers from. And they separate us from God who in our own self righteous need for control are not listening to anyway. There is a saying that goes like this: “If God seems far away…who moved?”
Michael Jackson, with all his afflictions, sang a song called ‘The Man In the Mirror‘. One line in it says; “I’ve been a victim of a selfish kinda love.” When we sin against the flesh that is just what we are-selfish. We think only of ourselves and forget how much God truly loves us. We forget how wonderfully we were made to be everything that our Father wants and means for us to be. We separate ourselves and forget to trust in something else Paul taught us later in Chapter 8 of The Message Bible, states it as so; and I am paraphrasing…
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worse sins listed in scripture….None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us…Absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our master has embraced us.
Paul says that we have an ‘obligation’. That if we live to the flesh surely we will die. But if we live by the Spirit we will live. This can be a very easy thing to do when we are around those whose opinions we value and care about. But when we are alone and those old or even new, what I like to call demons show up-What do we do?
We all have what is called ‘good face’ and ‘bad face’. Good face is the bright and shining one we show to our loved ones, to our friends and family and to those in the public life who can enhance our own lives. This public face for the most part is easy to show because it gives value to our lives and uplifts us in one way or another be it love, friendship or even a paycheck.
Bad face though turns it’s ugly face on us inward. It, through our own self-vision does not see the beauty in ourselves. It only sees our doubt, confusion, rage and frustration…leaving us defenseless, willing and able to do anything not to see what we perceive to be our true hearts. This view is not seen through rose colored glasses but with spectacles that are tarnished by hurt, self hate and low self esteem. Bad face also has a voice. This voice tells us it is O.K. to try anything that will fix our hurt. This is when the separation of our souls from God begins.
What can we do when those voices start their whispering; perhaps even building to a loud roaring voice that tears us away from those we love and most important- a God who loves us? First and foremost-pray.
Reach out and up to the God who has loved you so much since before you were born. Reach out to others to stop the isolation. Be it a trusted friend or family member. Remember- you are not alone, even if you think you are. Do all in your power, to as Pink Floyd once sang about, turn away. Turn away from the feeling that you are all alone, turn away from the coldness inside.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with the words of another song called The Words I Would Say by Sidewalk Prophets. I hope that these words fill you with hope and the realization of the Spirit of the one who lives in you. “Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re going to do great things, I already know. God’s got his hands on you so don’t live life in fear. Forgive and forget, but don’t forget while you’re here – Take your time and pray. These are the words I would say.