Sunday May 2, 2021 | Greg Boyd
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
This two-part sermon provides an update on the state of what God has been doing in Woodland Hills Church, followed by an exploration of Jesus’ teaching on the imagination and its relationship to adultery.
In this sermon, Greg begins by welcoming those who can gather in person for the first time in 14 months, and then provides an update on the state of our church during this time. It has been a difficult time, one that has led us to lament the reality of our situation, due to the pandemic and other circumstances like the blatant displays of social injustice.
However, in this midst of these circumstances, God has been at work to bring good out of the difficulties. As a church, we have grown both in numbers and in giving, but even more, we are growing spiritually in unexpected ways. One of the things that has arisen during this time is the vision to be a hybrid church that connects with people who are local and also those who live around the world. This time when we have not been able to meet in person has empowered us to be the church in the midst of life, as opposed to just attending church at a building. In a year with so much difficultly, seeing what God has been doing at WHC has been a shining bright spot.
In the second part of this sermon, Greg revisits Matthew 5:27-30. We learn that the end result of heading down a road in the opposite direction from God is Gehenna, or the garbage dump. When we imagine the act of adultery and lust after someone, we are actually acting upon it which puts us on that road. What we imagine is as real as what we do with our body.
If Jesus’ teaching on the imagination is correct, then most of us are adulterers, as we have all broken God’s ideal. Therefore, we are called to be a community in which each one of us considers themselves the worst of sinners. We know that we can never look down upon others as we are never in a position to judge others. We meet at the bottom, in our shared brokenness, not at the top with a claim to superiority. This is illustrated by Jesus’ encounter with the adulterous woman in John 8:2-11. Jesus said to the Pharisees who wanted to condemn her, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
This applies to the LGBTQ+ conversation. Most of the time, people enter into the debate with a supposed position of superiority. Those who are heterosexual sit in judgement of those who do not line up with their way of thinking, even though they also live in brokenness.
If we take Jesus’ teaching that imaginative behavior is just as real as bodily behavior, then everyone should enter into this conversation as people who do not stand above anyone else, no matter their sexual identity. We come together in our brokenness and with awareness that we are forbidden to rank one type of brokenness over others.
This applies to any topic where we might try to put ourselves above someone else. In the Kingdom, we are called to be a people who refuse to stand over and judge others. As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2:2. “I resolved to know nothing about you when I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” All we know is that Jesus died for them and that they have unsurpassable worth.