October 2, 2022: 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we ask that You give each of us some good old Christian backbone!  Enable us to honestly look at our own lives and hearts, to see our own failings, and to root them out.  Enable us also to openly and lovingly be willing to speak to others about their sins, too.  For that is true love in action.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO WAS NEVER AFRAID TO SPEAK OUT FOR THE TRUTH WHICH SETS PEOPLE FREE!

TEXT:  Luke 17: 1-5

Dearly Beloved By Christ 

          Love is the greatest of motivators.  Fear is the second greatest.  And since the fall into sin, fear has stalked every single human being throughout their lives.  Most fears are obvious.  People fear death and pain—both the physical kind and the emotional type.  We fear anything that upsets or upends our comfort zone, such as the loss of income, accidents which cause suffering, even recalcitrant children who bring heartache.  

          Satan is the father of all fear.  He’s the one who brought it into this world.  Satan is also cunning.  To keep fear alive and to keep its paralyzing hold on us, he has disguised it in seemingly innocent clothing.  One of those innocent looking robes has taken the form of the modern politically correct thinking that has become omnipresent today.  You see, for all its hype about being: open, caring, and non-judgmental,  political correctness often is nothing more than fear motivation.  We fear saying the wrong thing or acting in a way that people might take offense at.  We fear the social ostracism and condemnation that will result.  We fear being labeled as: insensitive to others.  The result of all this is that people have become very passive and uninvolved in each other’s lives.  We’ve been conditioned to never say: “That’s wrong,” or “I disagree with you” because then we’ll be guilty of the greatest sin in America today:  being judgmental. 

          Political correctness likes to hide behind the façade of: loving your neighbor.  Then it goes on to define what such loving is: never take a hard stand on anything, live and let live, don’t get too involved, and never, ever, bring religion into any discussion.  Or, or, you’ll find yourself labeled a bigot, a hate-monger, a religious nut, or judgmental!  As a result of this, loving your neighbor has devolved in the squishy nothingness of either laziness, complacency, or superficiality.

          I thought of all this when I read today’s text.  I wondered just what Christ would have been branded as because of His words?  I thought about St. Paul writing from prison in Rome to Pastor Timothy, knowing that death awaited him because he had spoken up for Christ.  I thought of Paul’s penning this sentence: “”For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  And then I thought about the fact that in modern America:

JUDGMENTALISM IS THE FEAR THAT STALKS THE BELIEVER

I

          The modern world has always hated the word: sin.  It conjures up images of God, of ultimate truth, and of inner guilt that a person cannot pass off or weasel out of.  Here Jesus begins by telling his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.  It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck that for him to cause on of these little ones to sin.  So watch yourself.” 

          Right here Christ takes aim at any of our words and actions which lead others, especially children, to walk away from Godly truth.  Here He uses the word: skandalon for sin.  In English it comes to us as: scandal.  That is, something that causes another to stumble and fall in their faith.  So, He begins by forcing each of us to look inside our heart and examine whether our words and our actions coincide when it comes to speaking, leading, guiding, and mentoring young minds about the way of salvation.  If you preach to your children about the importance of church and then stay away for months at a time, they will see your hypocrisy.  If you tell them not to steal and then take “sick days” from work when you’re not sick, they will make the connection.  Well, you get the point.

          God is a perfect Judge.  He sees all, hears all, knows all.  So, the need to sweep your heart clean and get your own house in order is paramount if we’re to escape His just judgment. 

II

          But, of course, the only real way to escape God’s judgment for our scandal-filled life is: forgiveness.  It is to plead for and receive the mercy of Jesus Christ.  It is to grasp with our whole heart that God’s Son willingly died on a cross to pay our eternal death sentence for us.  It is to embrace with your whole heart that God loved us so much that He was willing to rip His own heart out—send His beloved Son to death—in order to save you and me.  And now, armed with such thankful love we earnestly seek to share it and to apply it because it’s so freeing from guilt!

          And so, Jesus now continues as to how we are to do this.  “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

          Here Jesus uses another synonym for: sin.  The word is “amartia” which literally means: shooting an arrow at a target and missing it!  The target which all humans shoot at daily, or are supposed to, is God’s holy law, the 10 commandments.  They are not our notions about right and wrong, they are God’s eternal truths.  So, when another person obviously breaks a commandment, what should your response be as a loving human being?  It is to tell them where they are wrong.  It is to rebuke them on the basis of Godly truth.  Talk about politically incorrect!  Isn’t that the height of being judgmental?  Won’t they respond: “Doesn’t God say: “Judge not lest ye be judged?”  Yes, God says that.  But it doesn’t apply in this situation because ultimately you’re not doing the judging, God is, His word is.  Think of it this way, isn’t it loving to tell a child not to touch a hot burner on a stove?  Isn’t it loving to warn another about getting drunk, taking drugs, or hanging out with known criminals?  Likewise, warning about sin and confronting it in another is the ultimate form of love, isn’t it?  You cared enough, you loved them enough to risk their disfavor and their insults because you wanted to save them from lasting heartache.

          Since we’re all impatient people, and since people are prone to learn life-lessons slowly, He adds that phrase about rebuking and forgiving “seven times” in a day.  The point is: we should always be patient with others because God is so very patient with us.  As long as they say they are sorry and try to bring forth some sort of fruits of faith, we keep applying God’s forgiving love—again, and again, and again. 

          This whole lesson is about acting on Godly love and saving lives eternally.  It all sounds good to modern man, until you realize just how involved in others you need to be.  And then political correctness is thrown into the mix and since we fear judgmentalism, often we become timid, silent, and passive.  The disciples response to Jesus’ words were an enthusiastic: “Lord, Increase our faith!”  To that I’ll add: Now more than ever!  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

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