Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 10

Track 1: A Plumb Line in Our Midst

Amos 7:7-17
Psalm 82
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

God had a covenant with Abraham. Israel was under this covenant, but they were not keeping his covenant requirements. Reading from the Prophet Amos:

This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,

“See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by;

the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”   (Amos 7:7-17)

When Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, became aware or this prophecy, he warned King Jeroboam. He then threatened Amos:

And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”   (Amos 7:7-17)

The prophecy of Amos did not follow the narrative of King Jeroboam. But God is a God of truth. He is not bound by any human narrative.

We are a covenant people under the new covenant of God in Christ Jesus. There is no temple. We, the Church, are now the temple of God. In 1 Peter we read:

For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?   (1 Peter 4:17)

As in the day’s of Jeroboam, God’s judgement is in our in our midst. Do we have any court prophets in our churches who want to protect the status quo? Do we have any Amaziah’s who elevate church doctrine over God’s Word?

How many churches has tacitly supported abortion. What does God’s Word have to say?

Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.   (1 Corinthians 6:16-20)

This word speaks against the sin that leads to abortion. There is no mystery about what the Word of God says about the unborn.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
    My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.   (Psalm 139:13-16)

What about the doctrine of once saved always saved? The is what the Word teaches:

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.   (Hebrews 10:23-27)

God’s word is clear. When we do not live up to it, what do we do? Do we hide in our doctrines, rituals, and false piety? Confession or coverup? Repentance or rationalized doctrine? What will it be?

God’s covenant people are called to live at higher standard than the world – a much higher standard. God is holding a plumb line beside us. He is a holy God. He calls us to be a holy people: The Church, the body of Christ, of which e2 are a part. has not fulfilled its responsibilities. It should be a moral compass for the world. But the world has crept into the Church.

God is calling us out:

For I am the Lord your God; sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.   (Leviticus 11:44)

We do not have to hide in darkness. Let us not hide from him, but run to him. The good news is that God is the one who can make us holy. The Apostle Paul wrote:

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.   (Colossians 1:11-14)



Track 2: Self Justification

Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Psalm 25:1-9
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37

If there ever were a question abput who is our neighbor, the Parable of the Good Samaritan should settle it. Reading from the Gospel of Luke:

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”   (Luke 10:25-28)

When Jesus told the lawyer to “do this” he realized that he had to do more than talk. He might be able to make a case for himself if he could narrowly close the category of neighbor. No offense to lawyers is attended, but he was looking for a loophole in the commandment:

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, `Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”   (Luke 10:29-37)

 When Jesus implied that we should treat every one as a neighbor, the lawyer realized that God’s Commandments are beyond human rationalization and self justification. They are required to be followed down to the very letter and spirit of the law.

Only Jesus could do that and he did. He fulfilled the righteous requirements by living a perfect life without sin – a lamb without spot or wrinkle, thus becoming the sacrificial lamb and just punishment for our sin. We do not need a loophole in the commandments. He fulfilled all the requirements of the Law. He justified us.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.   (Romans 5:1)

We no longer have to justify ourselves. We have peace with God. Now we can consider everyone our neighbor. No one is threat to our relationship with God. It is based on love, mercy, and forgiveness. Love is not puffed up. It does hot keep a record of wrongs. We do not need to compare ourselves to anyone. God has accepted us and we are to accept and forgive others.

Where do we stand to day? Do we love God with all our hearts? And do we love our neighbor as ourselves? If we fail to do so at times we can call on God for help. Jesus will live within us as he pours out the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. The Apostle Paul wrote:

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.   (Colossians 1:11-14)

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C

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