Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday's Word...Rhythm (Part 4 of 4)

This is part four of a four part series called Rhythm. If you haven't read them, you can click on part 1 / part 2 / part 3)


God created people to be in relationship with each other. This is not an earth-shattering truth. We've looked at Eden and the rhythm that existed there. The Bible says that God made Eve because it was "not good for man to be alone." I think it was more than just about Adam wanting a pretty girl walking around naked. It's more than just the need to be able to make more humans. God made Eve because He knew that all people need relationship.

We weren't created for just any relationship. A tick can have a relationship with a dog. That's not the kind of relationship we need. We need rhythm with others. Right rhythm means that we need to be in right relationships. When our relationships are out of whack, our rhythm with those people is messed up and that spills over into our relationship with God (are you beginning to see how all of these--God, others, and self--are closely tied together?).

You can't say that you have a great relationship with God if you loathe someone at work. Hating people and having enemies are the opposite of having a right relationship with God. These two ways of living are incompatible. 

So, we find "nice" ways of handling this. We find "acceptable" levels of disdain. We avoid that person, talk about him or her when they're not around or vent to our close friends about how much we secretly really do "hate" them.

Jesus says, "you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'" (Matthew 5:21, NIV)

Jesus reached back into the Law (10 Commandments), to the ancestors of the people those laws were written to and says: "Y'all remember that one?" He's about to give a new interpretation of that law altogether!

“‘But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘”Raca,” [worthless] is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell’” (Matthew 5:22 NIV).

See what Jesus just did there? Jesus teaches that murder is bad, but that there are other ways to murder someone. If you hate that person...murder. If you've treated them wrong, if there is friction between you and someone else, then you have a big problem. He continues:

“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24 NIV).

Does this seem radical to you? That means if you are coming to worship and you don't like that man or woman or have belittled this person or refuse to give grace to that person over there--you might as well not lift your hands and sing the songs. God basically says, "I'm not going to hear you out until you make that right!"

To Jesus, our relational, emotional, and spiritual lives are all connected--in the same way musical instruments come together to play a song.

When you are out of rhythm with others it affects more than just the two involved. A fight between you and your wife affects how you treat other people. (I think you know what I'm talking about.) Ultimately, though, it affects our relationship with God. Our relationships aren't just indicators of our relationship with God, they are mirrors of our relationship with ourselves. 

I think, then, that you can begin to see why rhythm is such a big deal to Jesus. It isn't just about the other person. It's about you and God. It's about you and you. It's about the rhythm of your life being interrupted. 

Side note: Some of us have been on the receiving end of being belittled and broken by someone else’s words. The things people have said or done to you, how they made you feel--that hurt is very real. Some of you feel it daily. I don’t want to discount that pain, but what those people said or did had nothing to do with who you are. They made you feel weak, but you’re not. The only way you could really be weak is to lash out at them, returning cruelty with cruelty. But to be strong, return kindness for cruelty. See beyond your own pain and see the pain of your “enemy.” 
Today, you might need to go to someone and plead for their forgiveness. Some of us might need to grant forgiveness. 

To be in rhythm with God, we have to be in rhythm with one another. This is how it is supposed to be. God wants you to be in rhythm with Him, getting in rhythm with those around us is a step towards that goal.

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