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Will You Plead Your Case?

• Greg Boyd

Greg has been showing us how our desire to judge others and ourselves actually prevents God’s love from flowing in us and through us toward others. The primary text has been Gen. 3 with the story of Adam and Eve and the two trees.

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In verses 8-13 we see the pattern emerge. God questions Adam and he has a choice to make, he can either acknowledge his sin by expressing his trust in God and confessing, knowing that God will be merciful and just, or he can hide and shift the blame away from himself. Of course, we know that Adam hides and shifts the blame to Eve. Eve in turn hides and shifts the blame to the serpent. Each thing that is said by these two is “technically true” but is not the real heart of the matter. The opportunities to trust God are passed up and the emptiness that results from this mistrust creates the need to protect themselves. Adam and Eve become their own defense lawyers.

Greg then offered a hypothetical situation about a man named George who wanted to be the perfect husband. George studied books, observed successful couples and worked very hard to replicate the behaviors that he saw that a good husband is to have. He was good at it. He was always asking himself, “What is the right thing to do?” and he would do that good thing. His wife, Sue, eventually began to realize that even though the behavior was all good, there was something very important missing from her relationship with George. Actually it was the relationship itself that was missing! George was paying all of his attention to the “rules” of behavior for successful husbands and basically ignoring Sue! She was merely an opportunity for him to perform his rules. His passion was about the rules—not Sue, his desire was to fulfill the rules—not Sue. Sue was beginning to feel this. She began to realize that the rules and George were really about George seeking his own self-fulfillment and success regardless of how Sue felt about it. George know how to defend his behavior, he knew these were good things to do, but they were not expressions of who George genuinely is expressed to who Sue genuinely is! There was no reality in it! What Sue wants is George! (See the diagram below for an illustration of the difference between George and Sue sharing real intimacy on the one hand or George holding Sue at a distance by relating directly to the rules and ethic he has learned and only indirectly to Sue.) Not the rules dressed up as George. What Sue wants is George as he is, with all his bumps and bruises and imperfections. Love takes everything and hides a multitude of sins (We must not hide our own sins! After confessing them to God and others, their love will begin to hide our sins). Sue wants what is real. Greg repeated the line several times: “get out of your head and into your heart—and give your heart to me!” These are the words that Sue would express to George. These are the words that God is expressing to all of us.

Religion is relating to God the way that George was relating to Sue. Following the rules, defending our own behavior, hiding our mistakes. Rather than trusting that God’s mercy is greater than our sin and throwing ourselves at the feet of that mercy. Religion is the most devastating enemy to God’s desire to have a relationship with us. We establish acceptable patterns of behavior and expect that God will be satisfied when we succeed at fulfilling those behaviors. God knows that we cannot be perfect. God loves you anyway. God knows that you are afraid of failing. God loves you anyway. God knows that you have sin that you don’t even want to get rid of! God knows all this and loves you anyway. Trust this love that God has for you, the mercy extended through Christ. God will transform you from the inside out! God will give you new desires to replace the ones you currently have, but you have to yield your heart to Christ, invite him into the darkest corners of your life. Let God become your defense lawyer—he’s never lost a case!

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Sermon Series: Love & the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil

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Focus Scripture:

  • Genesis 3:8-13

    8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?"

    10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

    11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

    12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."

    13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?"
    The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

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One thought on “Will You Plead Your Case?

  1. richard says:

    i wonder if “mercy” is all we can see and understand if we don’t know and understand “Grace”.
    After all, Mercy is a legal position that wouldn’t be out of place in a court of law.
    Mercy can only be given to those who totally agree with the accusations made against them, and offer no excuse for themselves.
    In a legal sense, Mercy is to NOT get what you deserve.
    When we stand beneath the tree of knowledge Mercy is assumed to be what you just received if you didn’t get the judgement you deserved.
    Contrast this perspective with living our lives from the tree of life where we understand we just received is Grace, an expression of God’s love.
    When we receive Grace, we are receiving what we could never deserve.
    Mercy is a function of the law and a decision of the judge, and grace is the relationship we have with our Father.
    I have come to this perspective after understanding my own position as being a left wing extremist living in the shade of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
    I sometimes feast at the tree of life and love of our Father, but even after receiving his abundant overflowing love and grace I returned to the judgement tree to find “rest” in legal reasoning.
    There is no rest there, there is only extreme left wing judgements.

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