Sunday January 16, 2005 | Greg Boyd
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Everything in our lives is connected in some way to every other thing in our lives. We must be aware of this if we are truly to root out sin and manifest the Kingdom of God. The biblical image is that of yeast leavening a whole lump of dough, which is used both positively (Mat. 13:33) and negatively (2 Cor. 5:16). Sin—including festering anger, unforgiveness, resentment—works like yeast to penetrate deep into the lives of those affected; likewise, the Kingdom of God works like yeast transforming the whole for good as well. Therefore, we cannot really compartmentalize our lives. And as we begin to cooperate with the yeast of the Kingdom of God in our lives, we quickly find the world resisting us.
The primary theme of today’s message was that everything in our lives is connected in some way to every other thing in our lives. We must be aware of this if we are truly to root out sin and manifest the Kingdom of God in our lives. The biblical image is that of yeast leavening a whole lump of dough, which is used both positively (Mat. 13:33) and negatively (2 Cor. 5:16). Sin—including festering anger, unforgiveness, resentment—works like yeast to penetrate deep into the lives of those affected; likewise, the Kingdom of God works like yeast transforming the whole for good as well. These two, sin and the Kingdom of God, are not on equal footing. The Kingdom of God is the very presence of God come down (incarnated) to bring about a new reality. The Spirit of God is the medium in which we live and move and have our being. It assures that everything is indeed connected to everything else. In Christ we are made aware of this reality and empowered to participate fully in it. We are invited to walk in the Spirit (see Romans 8). Because God is omnipresent, we can be assured that all things are indeed connected in God. Nothing is beyond the loving reach of God’s awareness, presence and transforming power.
Since this is true, we cannot really compartmentalize our lives. We cannot ultimately separate relationships we are in now from those we have been in previously. We cannot separate our home lives from our work lives from our church lives from our inner lives when we are “alone” before God. All of these aspects of our lives penetrate deeply into the others. Greg used sex as an example of the connectedness of these seemingly various aspects of our lives. Sex is the one of the most intimate ways a human being has of relating to another human being. It approximates the full transparency the Father, Son and Spirit share with one another. It represents a sacred covenant. But it is not merely an act between two people! The parents, stressors, anxieties, fears, hopes, dreams, joys, so many things get expressed in subtle ways in this moment. Greg described sex as a microcosm of our lives. Of course, sex is not the only way that our various relationships influence each other. We have keen descriptors for particularly acute occurrences like “rebound,” which we use to describe someone who is still actively dealing with the results of a previous relationship, and the needs felt in that situation throw them into another one. The interrelations are not always this obvious, but they are this present nonetheless. This is why it is so important to intentionally cooperate with the healing power of God’s transformation (recall Paul’s words from Eph. 4:31and forward). We are, with God’s help, to rid ourselves of everything that is not consistent with the Kingdom of God. We are to be the first fruits which anticipate the new way of life that God is bringing forth in the world!
As we cooperate with the yeast of the Kingdom of God in our lives, we will find that the world resists us. For the world—as a whole—does not share the same goal of cooperating with God’s transformation. For this reason, we will likely suffer at times for doing what is right. The Bible anticipates this all over the place (one example is 1 Pet. 3:14-15). Many of the disciples of Jesus died as a direct result of the world’s resistance to them! We are not to resist those who threaten us (Matt. 5:39). Don’t sink to the violence that so poisons our world (Rom. 12:17, 21). Don’t let the violence of this world poison you. No doubt, you will at times fall victim to it, but you don’t have to allow it to have power over your spirit. Do not fear the one who can kill the body but take care to live consistently with the Spirit of the Kingdom of God. This is what it means to walk with a clear conscience before God, having put away bitterness, malice, hatred, slander, etc. God is the author of justice and can be trusted with it (Rom. 12:19-20). When we suffer wrongly for upholding what is right and true, there is a powerful and persuasive witness to the world that good is stronger than the violence that opposes it. This is demonstrated by people like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, one of King’s mentors in nonviolent resistance.