The stars in constellations are thousands of light years apart (well, some of them are). And some of these stars may even no longer exist. They are so far away that if they blew up, we wouldn’t know about it for a thousand years.
But because we are where we are, when we are, together they look like a cup. Or like a bull. Or a guy wearing a belt. They make sense to us, and may even help point us home if we were lost.
Orion is one of the best examples of what I’m talking about here.
Betelgeuse, the bright red star that is Orion’s left shoulder, it is about 640 light years from earth. Bellatrix, though, the other shoulder star, is only 200 light years from earth, three times closer. Mintaka, the rightmost star in the belt, is 1200 light years away from the earth. If you look at it tonight, the light that hits your retina left the star around 600 AD.
Orion only looks like a guy wearing a belt because we are, where we are, when we are. If we lived in a different part of the universe, he wouldn’t look like much of anything.
Constellations have helped people for a long time find their way home.
We are talking about constellations during Advent, the time of year when we remember the promised birth of Jesus, because there is a star that plays a prominent role in the Christmas story. It will help some people find their way home, find their way to Jesus. But it’s not at all what they think it is.
Adultery, infidelity, cheating, is wrong. It is sin. Full stop. Jesus tells us today that engaging in it means you are on the path to hell. And it starts long before it becomes obvious. That also means it starts long before it’s too late to turn back.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28
There’s something about lust that can never be satisfied.
“Lust is the craving for salt of a person who is dying of thirst.” – Frederick Buechner
This word for lust is the same word that was used for coveting in the 10th commandment that says “You shall not covet”. And we all know that coveting is not a desire that can really be satisfied is it? When you want, you can always want more. When you are discontent, you can never really be content.
It’s the same with lust. Jesus isn’t talking about healthy, normal sexual desire here. Jesus isn’t trying to neuter us of our God given desire. He’s using a particular word here. And Buechner unfolds it perfectly. It’s a craving that can never be satisfied, and one that will kill you if you try.
Jesus isn’t condemning sexual desire. That’s important to know. God made us as sexual beings. It isn’t the desire that’s the problem. It’s the direction of it, the object of the desire. Desire within a marriage is exactly where it is supposed to be.
But when the desire God gives us gets pointed in the wrong direction, it gets us in trouble.
Why? Why is Jesus so concerned with your desires, your thoughts?
What harm can this lust, cause when it is toward someone who is not your spouse if it’s only in your heads?
What is it about looking that messes people up so badly?
Not in a moralistic, “I’m good and you’re bad” kind of way. Definitely not in a fault finding, you should be ashamed way.
It’s wrong because no one gets married hoping it ends up in divorce. It’s wrong because it’s painful.
To say divorce isn’t wrong is to deny the pain and hurt of those who have to go through it.
To say divorce isn’t wrong minimizes the heartache and grief of two people who have to start over.
So yes, divorce is wrong, in the same way anything that breaks us and turns our lives upside down is wrong.
Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9
You’ve probably read that before, or heard it before. It can be a hard thing to hear. And if it stings you personally, or makes you feel guilty, please don’t let it. Stick with me, because we’re going to put Jesus’ teaching in context this morning. Continue reading “Divorce”
(For the sake of this question, I don’t know exactly how you got this million dollars, but you got it legally and ethically. Let’s say it was an inheritance from a relative you didn’t know you had, so you’re not really sad about it. It’s just $1 million that fell into your lap!)
So you pay taxes on it. Now, what would you do with $600,000?
Would you take an amazing trip? Would you pay off your house? Pay off your student loans?
Maybe you’d something really good with it?! Maybe you’d tithe on it, or go above and beyond the tithe on it!
But the real, most-likely possibility of coming into a million dollars is that it would ruin your life. You would probably have no idea what to do with it, and it would hurt your relationships and cause a whole lot of resentment, and you’d end up wishing that you never got to begin with.
But guess what?
You will see a million dollars in your life, just not all at once probably, and it holds the same risk that it will ruin your life.
It’s a risk that is commensurate with how much money you make, or receive.
And the real problem for Christians is that the more money you get, the more likely you are to rely on it, and to let it pull you away from your relationship with God.
In fact, most of Jesus’ teachings about money are precisely about that.
But it’s not all bad news. It never is with Jesus.