Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Impossible Loyalty

I hope you have been following this series with us...50 Day People!  If not, you can catch some podcasts online and also the sermon notes as well.  Enjoy!

We wrapped up the series this past weekend but did not get to our last point so I wanted to blog about that one.  The series has been a look at what it means to be a pentecostal church in our modern world.  Many of us have endured excesses and out of balance in pentecostal services throughout our lives and sadly, those experiences keep people away from pentecostal churches today.  At City Life, we believe in all the power without any of the pageantry!  Throughout the summer, we have examined the very first pentecostal church, the first century Jerusalem church.  The first church was birthed 50 days after Jesus's atoning death on the cross, thus our series title.

In Acts 2:41-47, we find a descriptive list of this church, what I refer to as the ten impossibilities.  This list speaks of what characterized the Jerusalem church, not just on their best day but every day, to the degree that it caused the world from the outside looking in to stand in awe!  They experienced growth, loyalty, community, prayer, power, generosity, service, gathering, worship, and favor to such degrees that it seems impossible.  That is for me the essence of pentecostalism, to have an unshakeable belief that God still makes the impossible, possible!  Mark 10:27 has been our anchor verse for the series, and for the past two weeks, we have been exploring impossible loyalty in particular.

When you and I are emotionally compromised, we are at risk of being disloyal.  The life of Jacob demonstrates this truth with great clarity.  When he felt disappointed, when he felt entitled, when he felt wronged, and finally, when he felt ashamed, Jacob betrayed.  There should be an internal alarm that we all have whenever we are emotionally compromised, especially any of the four we just mentioned.  This does not mean we will betray but rather we are at risk.  When we are hurt and wounded we often give ourselves a false sense of permission to do what we should not and not do what we should.  The podcasts will walk you through the first three, for now, let's talk about feeling ashamed.

Psalm 44:15 says, "My disgrace is before me all day long, and shame has covered my face..."  We find King David at a time in his life when he was overcome by feelings of being ashamed.  Those feelings led to one of Scriptures most egregious betrayals.  2 Samuel 11:15 records for us King David's command for Joab to send Uriah to a certain death.  King David's indiscretions with Bathsheba gave birth to an overwhelming sense of shame making him emotional compromised and ultimately vulnerable to the temptation of disloyalty.  Unfortunately, this held true for Jacob as well.

In Genesis 33:12-27, Jacob has been forgiven by his brother Esau and have before them the opportunity to restore their family.  Esau invites Jacob to return home and Jacob lies.  He tells Esau that because they have so much livestock, women, and children, their pace of travel is just too slow and that Esau should continue on to Seir and they will meet there.  However, Jacob travels to Succoth and settles there.  I can't imagine the shock of Esau when after waiting for hours, possibly even days, realizing that his brother has betrayed him yet again.  I believe Jacob was disloyal here because of his shame.  He knows that if he goes back to Seir, he has to deal with his lifetime of betrayals.

This is the lie people who are overcome with shame believe, that suffering the guilt of just one more moment of disloyalty is better than having to deal with all the cumulative pain of past betrayals.  The treachery of this lie is that it is partially true.  The past does outweigh just one more indiscretion.  But we remain enslaved to the ever growing pain our past instead of the liberty that confession always brings.  Dealing with the pain of our past is never easy but it is the only path to a clean conscience.

All of us need to have people in our lives we trust enough to share our secrets.  We must have people in our lives to whom we can confess our past betrayals and find there from them the wisdom, Godly counsel, and accountability to take further steps to confess and seek forgiveness from the Esau's in our life.  What are you hiding?  When will you seek out a trusted friend or pastor to divulge your betrayal?  The road to Succoth seems tempting but only in Seir will you find the peace that has always eluded you.

Pastor Fred