Sunday, June 07, 2015

Ties That Cannot Bind

Today in church we heard about the fall of Man in Genesis 3:8-21 (the link will include the expurgated vs. 1-7), a plea for mercy in Psalm 130, words to comfort us in our times of woe with the promise of what is to come in 2 Corinthians 4:13-18, and we finished up with the seemingly out of place story of Jesus and the house divided from Mark 3:20-35.

 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family[a] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.  In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” 
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.  
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” 

While today's sermon ignored the fall, the need for repentance, and the promise of eternal life, found in the first three readings, and only gave a passing reference to the Gospel with something to the effect that we, like Jesus, must be crazy to follow him, I would like to take a few minutes to focus on the strong man and his house.
 " one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up."
I see the strong man not as the last named individual in the story, Satan, but instead as representing the Church which can only be plundered when Satan is the one doing the work of binding its strongest asset, the Bible.
"Then he can plunder the strong man’s house."
What things can possible tie up the Bible? Let me list a few,
1) Revisionism: By this I mean injecting strange interpretations into the text as well as re-writing of the texts.
2) Excisionism: The systematic removal or silencing of certain passages that might offend.
3) Translationism: Confusion over the meaning of individual words leads to loss of trust in the entire text.
4) Relativism: the relegation of most if not all of the Bible to something applicable only to the ancients.
5) Relevantism: Ignoring those parts that don't seem relevant.
6) Divisionism: By dividing the Church into factions where one side interprets the Bible differently from the other, outsiders feel that there is no reason to bother with it.
There may be more, but this is just my quick take on it.

Things that tie up the Bible close it to our hearts and minds and must surely be products of both the fall and of something seeking to destroy and plunder, namely, Satan.

But the word of God will not be bound by the fetters of Satan forever, and while the present day Episcopal church seems to have handed over the keys of the house to forces that seek to twist the words of scripture and to tie theology into knots in order to advance an agenda of sexual immorality, we can trust in the power of the Lord that those ties will not bind the One who overcame the nails of cross and the darkness of the tomb.

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