“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 25, NO 30 & 31 – UNDER THE CLOUD
I find it interesting that the Old Testament never talks about original sin. Nowhere do the O.T. writers say Adam’s (humankind’s) slip-up resulted in the advent of sin. Of course, sin is a reality, and it had to start somewhere, hence in the beginning with “Adam.”
Such a passage as Psalms 51:5, where the author says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” is an exaggerated, poetic statement of lament within the context of the writer’s reflection on his sin.
It is no more literal than Psalm 40:2 where it says (God) “lifted me out of the slimy pit; out of the muck and the mire…” Or that Psalm 90:10 literally means we can only live to be eighty years old with good health. The list could go on and on.
In Judaism, the bar mitzvah is not the recognition that a boy is accountable for sin. It is the time the young man has the full responsibilities to the Law and the privileges of adulthood. Any sins are seen as the result of free choice. This is different than traditional Christian thinking (not supported by scripture) that at some point around puberty, the child becomes a sinner, accountable to God, and any rejection of that means being eternally lost.
The first thing a Christian should do is get “it is a fallen world” and “original sin” out of their minds. The world did not fall. Not only does the story of Genesis not say that, but it declares that when God was done creating, the announcement was that it was “good.”
As you know, in simple terms the story of Eden is told something like this: God created everything, including humankind, male and female. Everything was pure and good, there was no sin, and it would seem humans were to live forever, at least by some interpretations. Then the humans sinned and God’s plans were changed, and so did everything else. It wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. The humans destroyed God’s plan. At least that’s how it is often told. While actually, according to scripture, especially the writings of Paul, the world turned out just as God knew it would before creation took place. In Ephesians 1:4,5 Paul writes: “For he (God) chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ…” (For the fullest expression of the thought, read through v14)
Please notice that Paul says God chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight, before the creation of the world. Does that sound like Paul believed something went wrong with humans? Or does it go along with the straight-out fact that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”? If we did not fall short of the glory of God, what would we be? God. Or an exact replica. If we were that, would we not also be God? And isn’t it interesting that being like God was the temptation in the story of Eden? Were humans ever intended to be sinless? No, not according to Paul. As humans created in God’s image, we will reflect that image, but not perfectly. Sometimes humans don’t even get close to reflecting God’s nature. In other words, they fall well short, like in another country short.
Paul’s comments were given to those who wanted to be in relationship with God, not those who did not. His explanation is that whereas we fall short, that’s who we all are, and God is not disappointed with that. God created us with free will and knew we had to have it and to use it, even sometimes very badly with horrible results.
But what about sin? What about missing the mark, which is the literal meaning of “sin.” Since we were never intended to hit the bulls eye of God’s perfection, why should that fact burden us? Good question. It shouldn’t. But it did, and not just for the Hebrews. Most civilizations had a belief in a creator, something higher in every way than were they. There was the need to be sure this “higher one” was appeased and working for them. So lots of ideas about gods developed, as well as how to avert their displeasure.
In the Old Testament there are five categories of sacrifice. Surprisingly, three of them are for thanksgiving and are voluntary. The other two, one for sins and one for trespasses, kind of blend together. They are mostly about breaking the purity code, or the social code of the people. The general sins of the people were handled by sending the scapegoat off into the wilderness, in a symbolic way of carrying away the people’s sins.
In the New Testament we are told the blood of Jesus purifies, cleanses, us from all sin. (I John 1:7) In Colossians 1:20 it says Jesus made peace through his blood shed on the cross. What peace? In Romans 8:1 Paul says “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Even though we miss the mark?
What does this all mean? If the blood of Jesus cleanses (and continues to cleanse) us from all sin, why do we still ask for forgiveness of sin? If there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, why do we keep condemning ourselves as sinners? What peace did the blood of the cross bring?
Remember, this is all written for Christians, to assure them of the grace and love of God. It is not that we become sinless when Jesus died for us. It means we no longer have to carry the weight of believing because we sin, (miss the mark) God rejects us. The continual cleansing of sin, is the removal of the fear (See I John 4:18) that since we have and will fall short of showing God’s complete reflection in our lives, we are continually condemned by God.
What the blood (the death) of Jesus does is set us free from the slavery of believing we could never be worthy of God’s love because of our lack of being all God is. So “in Christ”, in what Christ has done, there is no condemnation, either by God or oneself. We have the assurance that God does not want us to live under the cloud of failing to be God, because we were never meant to be. What we need is to know the love of God, the acceptance of God, and from that freeing relationship we can better reflect God’s glory because we have been set free from the “burden” of sin.
CONCERNS: Leena’s brother Nick is very ill. She will be going to visit with him on the 28th. Rich Crites continues to improve. Mary Smith’s recovery is taking some time, but each day she improves. Gary Overstreet eyesight is failing. Judy McWhorter’s brother-in-law is responding very well to cancer treatment. A friend and classmate of Garrett Lee Williams named Hannah, is being treated for leukemia. Ruby Stahl has died. She was a relative of the Beach’s. Ten year old Regan, is in serious condition s the result of a brain tumor. A friend of Martha Foy, Gil Richardson is dealing with muscular dystrophy. Dealing with or recovering from cancer are: Connie Crite’s brother, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, Deana McRoy, Jim Hunter, Philip Pierce’s mother, and Sharon, a friend
of Del Bolin. Remember also Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Ron Matney, Alma Martin and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 19-24
Monday: I Peter 1:13-25
Tuesday: Psalm 95:1-11
Wednesday: Matthew 14:13-33
Thursday: Romans 12:9-21
Friday: I Timothy 1:12-2:7
Saturday: Psalm 116:1-19
OUR DAILY BREAD: AUGUST 26-31
Monday: John 1:35-51
Tuesday: Revelation 1:4-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 6:7-20
Thursday: Luke 17:11-19
Friday: Philippians 2:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 98:1-9
THE ANNUAL BAR B QUE
The Labor Day Weekend Bar B Que will be on Saturday, August 31. A sign-up list is on the foyer table. Sing it as soon as you know if you and how many others will be attending.
Remember, the meat (pork, beef and chicken and sauce) will be furnished. Please bring buns, chips, beans, potato salad and such for the meal. We plan to eat about 4:00 PM.
FOR THE TROOPS
Wayne and Susan Phlegar’s son, Chris, is part of the troop withdrawal effort in Afghanistan. They do not receive regular kinds of breakfast food, so the Phlegars will send what we bring. The items needed are: Mixed cereal, (small assorted boxes) Granola bars, breakfast bars, Pop tarts, instant grits, instant oatmeal, and Little Debbie’s (no chocolate). Place the items in the foyer and they will be sent.
A THANK YOU CARD
In response to a potted plant sent regarding the death of Jim’s sister and Mary’s illness, Mary sent a card with the following note: “ Dear Christian Family, Thank you for the many cards, phone calls, food and the beautiful plant. It graces our entry hall. Thank you for your prayers, your love and concern. In Christian love, Mary Smith.
The card is on the downstairs bulletin board.
We are upgrading the email list of those who attend here. A list is on the foyer table with the names. Please stop by and make any corrections. One reason for this is so we can better communicate information such as weather related closures, illness and other news via email. Of course, the phone chain would still be used as well.
If your email is the same as in the last directory, just write “same” on the line following your name. Even if you think the office has your new e-address, write it down.
Today, August 18 is Super Sunday. Plan to stay and enjoy the meal following the service. The will also be a steering committee meeting following the meal.