Thursday, October 10, 2013

Banana-Fana-Fofana...The Blame Game

Sunday Message (October 6): A 3C Church
Message Audio: Listen HERE

In the first Connect message I named the obvious: things are not right in the world. Whether a Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Christian or atheist, we can all agree that we live in a fractured creation. Just recently...Nairobi Westgate Mall attack, Syria, Aaron Alexis, National Mall fire suicide, and the government shutdown remind us that "something is wrong out there." But if we are honest with ourselves we must also confess, "Not only is something wrong out there something is wrong in here." One of the contributing factors to a broken world is a broken ME.  That's why repentance lies at the heart of the gospel message.

John the Baptist (He gets my award for best preaching attire) prepares the way for the coming of Christ. The gospel writer Luke tell us John went into all the country of the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3).

Jesus shows up on the preaching circuit with a similar refrain: The time has come, the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15).

Peter, preaching the first sermon post resurrected-Christ, responds to the desperate crowd: Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

You cannot separate repentance from the gospel. If we do not need to repent, then we have no need for the gospel. The gospel is the "good news" of Jesus Christ, his coming to earth, his ministry, his death and his resurrection...ultimately his defeat of sin! The gospel is God's response to our helpless situation. Believing in the gospel story, accepting its claims and following Jesus begins with repentance. It begins by acknowledging that you have contributed to the fall of creation, that you are broken. It begins with the confession that you need to change while acknowledging that you are powerless to do so. The gospel must cross the threshold of repentance before it can take up residence in your heart. And repentance begins by taking responsibility! "Yes, I am at fault. I am the problem!" Unfortunately, our tendency is to blame rather than take responsibility. 

When my youngest son was 5 he refused to take responsibility for his bad behavior. He always responded to my interrogations with, "But..." I remember one incident in particular. I had caught him red-handed. He denied my accusations. I presented the evidence, "I saw you, YOU, walk in the room and eat that cookie after I told you not to! You are lying to me! I know you did it!" I had him. He would have to own-up now. After a few careful moments of reflection, "Dad, it wasn't me. An evil Pierson from the Devil walked into the room and got the cookie." With the twist of theology he blew holes in my bulletproof case.

My son is not alone. I'm guilty. All of us are guilty. Throughout my years of ministry, couples have invited me into their marital conflicts under the guise of helping their marriage, but many times what they really want is for me to fix their partner. They believe fixing their partner will fix the marriage. Reconciliation will not happen until both partners begin by taking responsibility for their own contributions to the dysfunction. 

Last Thursday I tried updating myself on the Government Shutdown. I spent an hour flipping back and forth between MSNBC and FOX NEWS and came away with nothing. MSNBC pointed the finger at the Republicans. FOX NEWS pointed the finger at the President and the Democrats. I would just like for someone to stand up and take responsibility.

We like the Blame Game, but my acceptance of the good news of Jesus begins by confessing that I need him. It begins by acknowledging that I have a problem and that I am part of the problem. Part of the reason things are wrong out there is because things are wrong in here

Are you misplacing blame? For what do you need to take responsibility? 
- A struggling marriage
- A negative work environment
- A destructive habit
- A financial crisis
- An estranged friendship
- A feeling of discontent
- A sinful act

Today let's quit blaming. Let's take responsibility because when we do we make room for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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