090315 Beat Him, Join Him, Or Crucify Him 03 Frowning On Fun


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A sermon on Matthew 5:27-30 presented March 15, 2009, at Palm Desert Church of Christ by Dale Wells

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090315 Beat Him, Join Him, Or Crucify Him 03 Frowning On Fun

  1. 3. What adjectives describe Jesus? <ul><li>What about fun ? </li></ul><ul><li>Too bad we don’t think of it </li></ul><ul><li>Jesus had a spirit of joy & humor & warmth </li></ul><ul><li>Others enjoyed selves around him </li></ul>
  2. 4. Children don’t hang around someone who isn’t fun <ul><li>Gospels picture Jesus surrounded by kids </li></ul>
  3. 5. Adults don’t leave jobs to road trip with someone who isn’t fun <ul><li>Commercial fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James, John </li></ul><ul><li>Government workers: Matthew </li></ul><ul><li>Political activists: Simon the Zealot, Judas </li></ul><ul><li>Left jobs for 3-year road trip with Jesus </li></ul>
  4. 6. People looked forward to his arrival <ul><li>Women like Mary & Martha kept lights on hoping he’d drop by </li></ul><ul><li>Businessmen like Zacchaeus took extraordinary steps in hopes of meeting him </li></ul><ul><li>People found him an entertaining speaker </li></ul>
  5. 7. Regaled with marvelous images <ul><li>Camels grunting to get through needle eyes </li></ul><ul><li>Old women scavenging under tables for coins </li></ul>
  6. 8. “ Did you hear the one about … <ul><li>… the Florida State player who got mugged on his way to play North Carolina” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Guess who stopped to help him. It was that guy, Samaritan, from North Carolina.” </li></ul><ul><li>Crowd: “You’re kidding!” </li></ul>
  7. 9. Teaching filled with humor & satire <ul><li>He described God as: </li></ul><ul><li>Father willing to forgive stupid acts by his children </li></ul><ul><li>Judge who forgives criminals, when they come to their senses </li></ul>
  8. 10. Kingdom of God as a place where <ul><li>People’s tears dried & replaced by singing </li></ul><ul><li>Rejoicing over people coming home </li></ul><ul><li>Banquet tables overflowing & chairs hauled out of the closet, so that anyone can find a place there </li></ul>
  9. 11. First miracle: Changed water into wine so a wedding party could on
  10. 12. Last act: Hosted a Passover feast <ul><li>Told friends how eager he was for this meal </li></ul><ul><li>Spoke of his hope that they might know his joy </li></ul>
  11. 13. If Jesus was so much fun, why did they crucify him?
  12. 14. You can say a lot about Jesus <ul><li>Sacrificing Savior – gave his life to save the world </li></ul><ul><li>Greatest teacher who ever lived </li></ul><ul><li>Most brilliant ethicist this world has ever known </li></ul><ul><li>Son of God </li></ul><ul><li>God in human flesh </li></ul><ul><li>Right on every count </li></ul><ul><li>One thing you cannot say </li></ul>
  13. 15. You cannot say Jesus wasn’t fun <ul><li>If you know what people are drawn to & what gospels say about him, you can’t say he wasn’t fun </li></ul><ul><li>Not kill-joy </li></ul><ul><li>Not red-faced prude </li></ul><ul><li>Not sponsor of a pinch-lipped religion </li></ul>
  14. 16. Helps us see why he bugged the Pharisees <ul><li>Heard joy-producing teaching of Jesus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t be God speaking </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Saw Jesus embrace imperfect people </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t be God acting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>His critique of them & claims about himself </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Got to get rid of him </li></ul></ul>
  15. 17. Second reason to keep this side of Jesus in focus <ul><li>Understand why Pharisees wanted to kill him </li></ul><ul><li>In a few minutes we may want to crucify him, too </li></ul>
  16. 18. There are times when Jesus is not much fun
  17. 19. Times when he says things that are inconvenient to us <ul><li>Looks us in the eye and says: You’ve got to learn to patrol your pleasures </li></ul><ul><li>Matthew 5: one such time </li></ul><ul><li>Moses: Good news & bad news </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Good news: I negotiated to Ten Commandments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad news: Adultery stays! </li></ul></ul>
  18. 20. We’re generally okay with the idea <ul><li>When I was still doing weddings, no couple ever asked me to leave a “multiple partners” option in the ceremony </li></ul>
  19. 21. Some may wince when Jesus says: <ul><li>“ You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery’” </li></ul><ul><li>We may know we’ve failed someplace </li></ul><ul><li>But most of us, in principle, understand the importance of faithfulness to spouse </li></ul>
  20. 22. The next sentence is harder to take <ul><li>“ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” </li></ul>
  21. 23. Is Jesus really saying what it sounds like he is? <ul><li>A little fantasizing is not okay? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s wrong with “looking but not touching”? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s so bad about a little porn or cyber sex, so long as we’re not actually breaking our vows? </li></ul>
  22. 24. If those things aren’t temptations to you, how about this? <ul><li>We’re not to be possessed by possessions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it okay to lust after things we see in ads & on the internet & on dealers’ lots, so long as we don’t pull out the credit card? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What could be wrong with “innocent” fun? </li></ul>
  23. 25. The battle is for the human heart
  24. 26. The Bible describes the “heart” as the executive center of our lives <ul><li>Proverbs 4:23 NIV Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritually healthy heart pumps choices & conduct that improve relationships & activities </li></ul><ul><li>I am a better husband & person </li></ul>
  25. 27. Spiritual heart is influenced through two arteries: reason & emotions <ul><li>Spiritual heart disease comes from the invasion of ideas, images & impulses that clog our reason and corrupt our emotions </li></ul>
  26. 28. The preeminent example is the Fall recorded in Genesis 3 <ul><li>First, the Serpent attacks the artery of reason: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can’t really trust God. He’s making unreasonable demands. He wants to keep everything for himself. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Then the Serpent attacks the artery of emotion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Genesis 3:6 NIV … the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The heart failed when the will fell </li></ul><ul><li>So Eve “took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” </li></ul>
  27. 29. Another poet put it this way: <ul><li>“‘ Who’s there?’ I cried, ‘A little tiny sin.’ ‘Enter,’ I said. And all hell came in.” </li></ul>
  28. 30. Victory is won at the perimeter
  29. 31. The battle for the heart must be waged at the perimeter of our lives <ul><li>You can’t retreat into the sanctuary of comparative righteousness: “At least I’m not like so-and-so … or at least I haven’t done such-and-such yet.” </li></ul><ul><li>You’ve got to post guards at the perimeter of your life </li></ul><ul><li>You’ve got to patrol even what appear to be innocent pleasures </li></ul>
  30. 32. This is the point of Matthew 5 <ul><li>Jesus’ words sound draconian: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away … And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” </li></ul></ul>
  31. 33. Jesus is not really advocating self-mutilation <ul><li>Origen took Jesus literally & castrated himself, but still had challenges with lust </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Later realized that Jesus was saying that, if we are serious about having healthy hearts, we have to be willing to take extreme measures to control what our minds dwell on </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The problem of lust is nothing new </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Augustine struggled with it all his Christian life </li></ul></ul>
  32. 34. Few things so affect our reason & emotions as what our eyes gaze on <ul><li>Experts on compulsion and addictions, suggest a rubber band around your wrist </li></ul><ul><li>When your eye or your hands stray in the direction of trouble, give it a snap </li></ul><ul><li>The pain will make you forget about the pleasures you were contemplating! </li></ul>
  33. 35. What ideas & images do you replace the destructive ones with? <ul><li>Philippians 4:8 NIV Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. </li></ul>
  34. 36. Maybe we’re not that interested in winning the battle for our hearts
  35. 37. A titillated, adrenaline-rushed life feels better <ul><li>Maybe we’re not that motivated to pursue life that is noble, pure, lovely & admirable </li></ul><ul><li>A life like everyone else is fine with us </li></ul>
  36. 38. James says: <ul><li>James 5:16 NIV Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. </li></ul>
  37. 39. But maybe we’d just like forgiveness, not healing <ul><li>Then let’s just keep doing what we’ve been doing with our eyes and our hands </li></ul><ul><li>And while we’re at it, look at that guy Jesus over there, will you </li></ul><ul><li>Can you believe his nerve in saying what he’s saying – telling us to patrol our pleasures? </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s just crucify him! </li></ul>