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Following Jesus is Not About Good and Bad, It’s About Right Relationships

This morning I had to have a conversation with a clearly wounded teenager. My son did not live up to his end of things on all of his grades, and agreed that, if he should not, he would not be going on his end of the year band trip today. He worked hard in most areas, but could not get caught up, and did not live up to what was promised and expected. I didn’t yell. In fact, my words were gentle, but I knew they stung. We talked about not doing things because of grades and achievements, but how what we do is a reflection of the relationship we have with others. And by his actions, his relationships with certain subjects showed a deep lack of interest. And so, because of the breaking of that relationship, the consequence was that he was not to go on this trip he was looking forward to, as well as being grounded for the next week. This was not about right and wrong, nor was it about punishment, but it was about living out consequences of our actions.


I could see disappointment all over him, and the tears in his eyes, and it got me thinking of my own life. How often have I broke relationships? I shared some of that with him, how he and I were similar in that regard, and where it led me. I said that God used my brokenness, thank Him, but had I focused on right relationships instead of what I wanted to do, I would not have missed out on many, many opportunities.


On my way to the office this morning, I was thinking of this idea of broken relationships, and the consequences that follow. Too many of us want to be box checkers. We do right, so we expect good in return. How often does that happen though? How often do our good deeds go unnoticed or unappreciated? How often do we see bad people seemingly get away with doing bad? I think this gets us warped in our view of God. It is not about “good and bad” but our relationship to God. When we sin, we’re not merely doing bad, we’re breaking relationships, with God first, then with others. Our sin wounds us, and we always must face the consequences of it, whether the immediate guilt and shame, or, in the end, judgement. And it is because of these consequences that Jesus came.


Loved ones, we are creatures designed for relationship, with God and one another. And we all have the ability to choose what to do with that relationship. We can cling and cleave to God, let His great love for us flow into us, and then pour out into all others, or we can choose ourselves, and break our relationship with Him, and have broken relationship with others. And since all of us have broken that relationship with God, we naturally develop a broken view of everything. But God, being rich in mercy, at the right time sent His son to love us. Jesus left Heaven, was born of a virgin, and became like us. He was fully God, and yet fully man. He related to us in every way. And yet, He never broke His relationship with the Father, but, instead, sought His Father’s will in everything.


Jesus never failed or transgressed, but kept His relationship with the Father as the forefront of all things. And then, He offered Himself up in our stead, taking our consequences for our sins on Himself. He died a brutal and slow death for our sins, taking them in to eternity as He cried “it is finished!” And our sins, should we seek right relationship with Him, are dissolved forever. And because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and He was perfect, Death had no hold on Him. He was able to, on his own volition, rise on the third day! And because He lives, we too can have life, now, and in eternity. But we have to restore that right relationship. We have to give our lives up, and submit to His will as He submitted to the Father’s. And there is such a freedom in that relationship! Whom the Son sets free is indeed free!


John 8:1-38


but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst They said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.


Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.


So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.


So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”


Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

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