Epiphany 3A - 1 Corinthians 1:10

1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

 

When Adam was nailed by God, in the garden of Eden, he blamed the woman, Eve. Eve blamed the snake who didn't have a leg to stand on. We may joke about who was or wasn't responsible for sin in the world, but ultimately, each of us must accept the blame for our own failings. We can't pass the buck - it stops with us.

When we attempt blame someone else, we're in the blame game. The essence of blame is refusing to take responsibility. According to the New Zealand Oxford Dictionary, the definition for blame is: "assign fault or responsibility to”.

Fault or responsibility is usually assigned to someone else – another person with whom we are usually not united and not of the same mind with. To blame is to be divided and to "be lame".

Until we take responsibility for our own personal sin, we can't grow. As long as we blame someone else, we live with a "victim mentality" - this is childish and conceals our jealousies and hang-ups - things we'd rather avoid. It's like when you have a boil – it needs to be lanced and cleaned up - until you do that, the boil keeps growing and becoming more of a problem.

I had a snoring problem for years. Diane said I stopped breathing when I was asleep. I denied it was a problem. I was in denial for about l0 years. I had sleep apnea.

Speaking of denial – many people think deNILE is just a river in Egypt. But denial is a real problem for us. We often deny we have a problem until it's too big to handle and it explodes on us.

We may try to hide our problem, trying to cover it over, perhaps with substance abuse (alcohol or other drugs), working harder and longer - some are really good at this especially when there are marital relationship issues at stake.

It's like when we're driving somewhere, not sure of exactly how to get there, and we don't stop and ask directions - our pride gets in the way. Remember Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) 18  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

I was confronted with my sleep problem when I went to sleep in the middle of a conversation at a Church Council meeting one night about 20 years ago. I finally took notice of Diane's prompting to go to the doctor and have it sorted out. I could have avoided my dented pride and embarrassment in Church Council by listening to Diane about my sleep apnea when she first raised her concern with me.

King David, had a problem with denial. It wasn't until God's prophet Nathan confronted him with a parable about his sin that he recognized he had to be accountable. David's lust for another man's wife led to a string of sin - adultery, deceit, murder, and the arrogance of denial of sin.

King David did eventually recognize his sin. Nathan had in effect asked David the first of the three questions God asks in our confession of sin at the beginning of our Communion service: “Do you confess that you have sinned, and do you repent of your sins?”

In 2 Samuel 12:13 ESV David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." ...

The words of King David's prayer to God in Psalm 5l:2 could be David's response to the 2nd of the three questions in our confession of sin: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ has redeemed you from all your sins, and do you desire forgiveness in His name?”

King David’s prayer: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin!

These words can be our prayer too. We've been washed in baptism so that we may be clean of our sin - so it is important for us to remember our Baptism. We're reminded in Luther's Small Catechism that: "In baptism God gives us forgiveness of sins, freedom from death and the devil and life with God forever."

When we're asked: "Do you intend with the help of the Holy Spirit to live as in God's presence, and to strive daily to lead a holy life, even as Christ has made you holy?" We say in our liturgy. "I do”. We confess and we agree to attempt to live accountable lives.

David could "fess up" to people and to God for his sin because it was brought to his attention by the prophet, Nathan". ...David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die." (2 Samuel 12:13 ESV)

This accountability we have before God and each other isn't just a one off

occurrence. King David was constantly held accountable for his decisions. One day he held a census, contrary to the will of God. He counted military strength and power forgetting, that is was God who gives victory not the numbers in the army.

2 Samuel 24:10, NIV says, David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg You, take away the guilt of Your servant. I have done a very foolish thing. "

How do you go when it's your turn to "fess up" and admit that you have a

problem? Do you take responsibility for your weaknesses and failures - do you admit your sin to God or to one of His representatives? Or do you pile up your sin and hide behind your pride thinking, "I'm all right mate."

Are we accountable? Do we accept the consequences of our action or inaction? When it comes to a speeding fine we pay the fine and loose the points on our licence. But what about when we've promised to do something for someone and then re-nig on our obligation - do we apologise and make it up the person we made the promise to?

God made some promises to us and He honoured them. He said He would

save His people - and He has. Jesus took the punishment for our sin - let's call sin

what it is - our often blatant arrogance in ignoring God's authority in our decision

making is a problem because it has a capital "I" in the middle of it.

Even though Jesus didn't sin, He bore the consequences of our sin in His body on the cross, It cost Him everything! God said He would set us free - and He has.

Now He asks us to receive what we don't deserve - forgiveness. With the knowledge and trust in Jesus life saving and life giving sacrifice we can now take responsibility for helping others to see what God promises to all who hear and believe.

We may still have to bear the consequences of our actions - as King David

did. Remember the son born to him from his adultery, the boy died. And after David’s military census a "pestilence" decimated his army.

Remember, too, the consequences of Adam and Eve's sin - cast out of the garden, pain in childbirth and hard work to provide for themselves.

Remember what David promised as part of his confession - He was going to take responsibility in Psalm 51 so that others wouldn't make the same mistakes he did: I will teach transgressors your ways, ... Do we do this here at St Matthew?

We can take responsibility and be accountable. But we are only able to do so with God's help. When we realize that God has forgiven us - that when we blew it, we can have the security, courage and humility in Jesus to say, "Hey what I did was wrong. I'm sorry it hurt You. Would You please forgive me and help me to live in the grace You have given me and all who believe?"

Taking responsibility for bad choices and their consequences is about being

honest, so we don't, "bear false witness against ourselves" by living and believing a lie, that we are good and all right with God because we live a "good life", when in fact we fall short of God's requirements of us.

We can, in the power of Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us, be true first of all to God, to ourselves and to others.

Where does trust fit if we're not accountable. When you purchase a new cell phone you rely on it. If it breaks down you want either the manufacturer or the company who sold it to you to take responsibility through the promises of the warranty.

When the new cell phone breaks down you want it repaired at no cost to yourself because it should have been working, and remain working properly, for at least the warranty period. The invoice, receipt and warranty are all part of your security.

We should be able to offer the security of Jesus and His gifts of forgiveness to everyone we encounter, as much as to the stranger in the street, as to those close to us in our family and friendship circles.

Jesus offers us the security of fellowship with Him and each other in the celebration of Holy Communion. Here we receive the seal of His promises (that was in our Baptism) and the assurance that we have been accepted by Him - after all - who invites the unclean into their home?

God issued us an invitation through Jesus in our Baptism - we can't gate- crash or we incur God's wrath and judgment.

St Paul says, 1 Corinthians 11:28 (ESV) 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

Here we are accountable first of all to God and then to each other. We don't allow filthy hands at the dinner table in our homes but must be accountable to those who eat and drink beside us.

When we commune together we're accountable to God and to each other. What we do, we do in faith - confessing the same truths. Let's be accountable and

share God's gift of forgiveness together.

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Amen.