Tag Archives: 10 commandments

Not as the Gentiles Do

Biblical Text: Ephesians 4:17-5:2 NLT

Full Sermon Draft

We’ve been reading and working our way through the Letter to the Ephesians this summer, and we have come to the core of the back half of a letter of Paul. If you’ve read these enough you know that the back half of Paul’s letters tend to be concrete application. What he was preaching in a rhetorical way in his intro and main points meets actual life. Earlier in the series we identified three main points.
1. The Father through Christ has blessed us with every spiritual gift.
2. We are being built together though the Spirit
3. We are being built with the purpose of showing the rich variety of the wisdom of God

Last week’s sermon looked at the concrete examples for those first two. This sermon starts Paul treatment of the examples of that third point. What does the rich variety of the wisdom of God look like? Paul’s treatment is deeply tied into the 10 commandments and Jesus’ sermon on the Mount. The sermon brings in Luther’s catechism treatment. All of this demonstrating the remarkable consistency of the order or the wisdom of God. The biggest thing that might shock moderns (as it shocked ancients) is that Paul assumes that we can change. When we were Gentiles (i.e. separated from God) it was potentially reasonable to despair of actual change. But we are not Gentile. We have put off that old life and are being renewed in the Spirit. That is Paul’s emphasis. We are being sanctified which is wild in the variety the God bring out of his free people. So, I’d invite you to listen, and to come back for the next couple of weeks. Paul challenges us who have known Christ to imitate him.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Deuteronomy 19:1-20 and Matthew 15:1-20

Deuteronomy 19:1-20
Matthew 15:1-20
Lex Talionis, the humanity of the law
What comes out of the heart & Jesus re-iterating the 10 commandments
The need for a new heart & God’s provision

The Children’s Bread

81714wordle

Biblical Text: Matthew 15:1-28
Full Sermon Draft

Matthew continues his pairing of an explicit teaching with an indirect teaching. The actual lectionary only read Matthew 15:21-28 which is the indirect teaching – a living example of the direct words Jesus says to the Pharisees. The question is two-fold: what makes a person unclean which is the negative way or saying what makes a person one of the Children? First Jesus points at the 10 commandments or the moral law. Trespass of the moral law, coming out of the heart, is what defiles a person. With the Canaanite woman we have everything on the outside that would defile, but her heart is right, even with the hard teaching that salvation comes from the God who ordered her people’s destruction. Out of her heart comes confession and faith. This is what makes children. The bread that falls to the dogs would be enough, as the Canaanite woman believes, but God doesn’t leave us under the table, he invites us to sit.

Follow your passion?

NPR had a short segment on a question that was sent to Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution). The hook was for those upcoming graduates who are lucky enough not to get sucked into the maw of this economy, what should they pursue if they didn’t really have “a passion”? And Dr. Cowen expressed some inability to answer it describing it:

The fact that Max and other young college graduates can even entertain this question — “What is my passion?” — is a new conundrum, and still a luxury not everybody enjoys. Yet, Tyler recently told me, it is “a central question of our time.”

So what’s the best, most rational answer for Max? It seems like economics could help; after all, it’s about costs and benefits and modeling complicated decisions.

But, Tyler says, “it was a truly difficult, tough question to make any progress on.”

For Christians St. Paul has a simple answer. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, which is deeply rooted in the summary of the 10 commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. What are you called to do, even when you don’t feel a call? Love God and love your neighbor. What does loving your neighbor look like?

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Now given the difference between the 1st century and the 21st century, the working with your hands might not be a directly possible. I don’t think that St. Paul was saying everyone should be making tents or plumbing. What that meant was do something that was not just being idle. Work is important in itself. One of the large idols of the day is that there are only specific roles that are “meaningful”. That is a false and destructive idol as people idle away waiting for meaningful work. No, serving your neighbor, a proper thing to follow, consists in living quietly, minding your own affairs and doing something that allows you to walk properly before outsiders. How boring! How suburban! But there it is, the bedrock of Christian calling, rooted in the 10 commandments.

Postmodern Ditches & The Narrow Way

21713wordle

Biblical Text: Luke 4:1-13
Full Sermon Draft

The first Sunday in Lent brings the temptation of Jesus as the text. The text is usually turned into a moral lesson about knowing your bible. And there is some of that here. But as I worked through the text and the various inputs this week, that fit less and less easily. Especially given Luke’s text. The temptations come in a slightly different order here, and the Devil and Jesus flip-flop words. Jesus goes from “it is written” to “it is said” when the devil picks up quoting scripture. This is no sword drill bible quoting one-up-man-ship.

The postmodern world tells us that everything is interpretation. There are authoritative interpretations made so by power. There are deviant or subversive interpretations. But, there are no facts; there is no truth. In the first two temptations Jesus clearly refutes that as he both takes as true and binding the Word of God and refutes a power and authority’s ability to assert interpretation against fact. In the third temptation Jesus turns to the opposite problem. Instead of thinking that everything is interpretation, its opposite is often a too great a certainty. When the devil starts quoting scripture the temptation is to put a very precise interpretation on a poetic verse.

Applied to the modern church or would you have both the church that has abandoned the law because they hunger after the approval of the world, and you have the church that is uncomfortable with faith and hope and mystery. The narrow way lies between the two ditches. Letting the secret things be God’s, but claiming surely those things that have been revealed. Deuteronomy 29:29

This is an attempt to preach the text by connecting roots of post-modernism with how we see it playing out in events today. As such, as David Foster Wallace would once quip, I’m attempting to point out the water to the fish (what’s water?). It is preaching directly at a space that is probably never in questioned. As such it might have zoomed right past.