Laws Made To Be Broken

Originally preached on 3/7/2021

Message Title: Laws Made to Be Broken
Theme: Record Breakers & Redemption
Season: Lent
Main Text: Exodus 20:1-17;
Scripture Reading: John 2:13-22
RCL Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
Focus: God makes a covenant with Israel through Moses.
Function: To separate ourselves from the legalism of religion and enter into the spiritual journey of a faith focused on Christ.
Other Notes: Guinness Records in Indiana https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/

SCRIPTURE READING: John 2:13-25 13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. 15 He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. 16 He said to the dove sellers, “Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written, Passion for your house consumes me.[a] 18 Then the Jewish leaders asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things? What miraculous sign will you show us?” 19 Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I’ll raise it up.” 20 The Jewish leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” 21 But the temple Jesus was talking about was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered what he had said, and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. 23 While Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, many believed in his name because they saw the miraculous signs that he did. 24 But Jesus didn’t trust himself to them because he knew all people. 25 He didn’t need anyone to tell him about human nature, for he knew what human nature was.

WORLD RECORD: longest high-five chain

  1. Temporary Record Holders: From September 2nd of 2014 to November 30th of 2016, Indiana State University held a world record for the Longest High-Five Chain. About the record: 1,647 participants gathered at Indiana State University’s Hulman Center in Terre Haute to set the record. The event, sponsored by High-5 for The Kids, doubled as a fundraiser for the United Way.
  2. Current Record Holder: Indiana only held this record for 2 years before a group from Arizona surpassed the record by more than double the participants.
    1. The longest “high five” chain measures 3,473 participants, and was achieved by Fiesta Bowl and UnitedHealthcare (USA) in Avondale, Arizona, USA, on 30 November 2016. The third to eighth graders attempting the record were Playworks students; participants in a non-profit program focused on encouraging active play in schools.
  3. “Record Breakers” – I was told that the term “record breaker” was coined because they used to literally break the record of the previous champion when a new record was created. To be a record breaker was to literally break the record. Now I tried to find a source to prove this was more than anecdote but unfortunately was unsuccessful. Please let me know if you can find a source to prove the history of the term “Record Breaker.”
  4. Sources:
    1. https://www.tribstar.com/news/local_news/world-record-for-longest-high-five-chain-set/article_8f908f88-1e27-592d-908b-aaf5b3b9573c.html
    2. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-high-five-chain

AUDIENCE ENAGEMENT: COVID has made greetings and physical affection weird. Hugs, handshakes, and high fives used to be our social norm for greetings. Now I see awkward smiles or fist bumps or people wondering what is an acceptable greeting.

  1. What type of greeting do you wish would make a comeback after COVID-tide?
  2. What type of greeting do you wish would go away forever after COVID-tide?

TRANSITION: We make records to break records. However, it seems the only records easily broken are the ones easily accomplished? Do you think we could surpass 3500 people for a high five chain?

In our text for today, we will see a new covenant established. This covenant builds expectations of humans perpetually breaking the contract. As we dive into this covenant, I want to look at God’s design rather than dissect the route to perfect holiness.

SCRIPTURE READING: Exodus 20:1-17 Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3You must have no other gods beforeme. 4Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. 5Do not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. 6But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generationof those who love me and keep my commandments. 7Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way. 8Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. 9Six days you may work and do all your tasks, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. 11Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13Do not kill. 14Do not commit adultery. 15Do not steal. 16Do not testify falsely against your neighbor. 17Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

EXPLAINATION: The 10 commandments

  1. Moses got them on a mountain (Mt Sinai)
    1. Not the first time we see something significant happen on the top of a mountain.
    2. Moses first interacted with God on the top of a mountain (burning bush).
    3. Moses continually communed with God on a mountain.
    4. Mountains were considered high holy places.
  2. Covenant for the people of Israel-
    1. Eventually the Jewish laws expanded to 613 (Footnotes)
    2. Jesus simplified the laws into two categories: “Love God” and “Love Others.”
      1. Matthew 22:34-40
      2. Mark 12:28-34
      3. Luke 10: 25-28

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Jesus has not gotten rid of the Law (10 Commandments)
    1. Matthew 5: 13-20 God’s people live the law to be an example for the world
    2. But the law isn’t a gradebook.
  2. Guidelines for how to live: God gave us the 10 Commandments to show us how to flourish in relationship with others and with God. However, these laws became a grading book to determine the holiness/righteousness level of God’s people.
    1. We love a grading scale, don’t we? “Yeah, you love me God, but am I better than that person?”
    2. These aren’t easy laws to follow but standards to strive towards because they lead to a fulfilling life.
      1. Jesus spends time in the gospels pointing to the root of the laws (Do not murder à do not hate. Do not commit adultery à don’t even lust)
        1. Don’t use God’s name in vain is not about avoiding saying G-D or Oh My God! Don’t put words in God’s mouth. Don’t make promises on God’s name and then not fulfill them.
  3. God doesn’t find joy in grading our behavior or plotting consequences. God wants our flourishing. We forget that the essence of the law is about God’s intention for creation when we follow the letter of the law. The letter gives us a score card to judge each other on. The essence of the law gives us stronger relationships with God and with our community.

APPLICATION: To separate ourselves from the legalism of religion and enter into the spiritual journey of a faith focused on Christ.

  1. Lent is a time of reflection and re-centering our lives around Christ. Two weeks ago, we talked about the different ways you could participate in Lent. How has your reflection time been going?
    1. Audience engagement: Have you tried to incorporate one of the Lenten practices?
      1. Fasting
      2. Charitable giving
      3. Confession/repentance
      4. Incorporating a new spiritual practice
      5. Unconventional: Joy Jar
    2. Deconstruction: Sometimes as you are reflecting, meditating, or praying, you may discover parts of your faith that you struggle believing, don’t believe any more, or trigger painful memories.
      1. Naked Pastor- “Deconstruction is the erosion or crumbling of our beliefs. It is unlearning. It clears space for wisdom.”
      2. Lent can be a season of deconstructing beliefs (maybe even decluttering) to bring us back to the truth of Christ. Don’t be afraid as questions arise.
      3. Don’t be scared if you consider setting down some old teachings or practices.
        1. Jesus simplified the laws into: Loving God and Loving Others.
        2. Sometimes our faith gets over complicated and needs to be brought back to the truth of Christ.
    3. Encouragement to try to engage your faith spiritually.
      1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What are other ways we can love our neighbors or love God that don’t show up on the 10 commandments?
  2. COMMUNION: Jesus set an example in his life. Jesus removed the grade book with his death and resurrection. We remember his life through communion and the life we are called to live.
    1. Invite a deacon to pray over the elements.

CONLUSION

  1. The Law isn’t about legalism. The law is about setting us free to love more fully and experience enriched lives.
    1. As you continue to dive into your faith and examine things during the season of lent, share with us ways we can support you.
    2. Follow up on commitment cards – if you didn’t hear this last week, hear this now: These cards are not a gradebook or score card. They are a commitment to practice a new aspect of your faith. They are a way for me & the deacons to encourage you as you grow.

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