The Devil Made Me Do It
Sermon by Rev. Steven McClelland on Genesis 3: 8-15, Mark 3: 20-35. Focus on how we blame everyone but ourselves for sin and trouble. Check out Rasaan Bourke & The First Presbyterian Church Choir following the sermon.
The story of the Garden in Genesis is the story of brokenness. And, as such, it’s a story that we know all too well. We know it in our bones. It’s the story of how brokenness comes into being in the first place.
In the beginning it was good. It was very good. And then we broke it.
Yes, we ate of the tree. And, that was bad enough. But, it was not the end.
We felt our nakedness, and because of that we were afraid when God came around.
We were never afraid before. That was new. And that was bad.
And then, we tried to push off the responsibility. “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”
I didn’t give myself this woman. You gave her to me. What were you thinking? If she hadn’t been around trying to trick me…
It was the serpent or as Flip Wilson used to say: “The devil made me do it.” We couldn’t even own up to our mistake. We couldn’t just stand there naked and reveal the naked truth that we had screwed up.
Who knows? Perhaps if we had the fortitude to confess our wrongdoing, and ask for forgiveness, things might not have been as broken. Or at least the broken thing could be addressed, and the painful process of repairing the brokenness could have begun either in Eden or East of it.
But, no, what began was fear and finger pointing.
Or put it another way “A house divided cannot stand.”
Which if you think of it describes what is going on today be it in the households of home, church, work, community, nation, our world.
It’s hard to live together.
And whether we like it or not we are the ones who do the bidding of the one we call Diablo when it comes down to how we choose to deal with the truth. If we choose to allow the inevitability of division to dominate our way of being in the world, then what Jesus’ claims will indeed be our world – A house divided cannot last and will not last.
You see, there are people in our lives who seem to thrive on disagreement and division. There are churches, institutions like Congress that would rather find any and all reason for discord – to prove themselves right, to justify their own positions, beliefs – than to do the hard work of searching for possible agreement.
We know these people. We know these churches. We know Washington. And they offer the real possibility of destruction from which no reconciliation becomes possible. Because that is the issue, is it not? To seek paths and possibilities that lead to relationship means that the end result will be the hard work of relationship maintenance, which means truth telling.
Life after disagreement and reconciliation is not about forgetting. It is not about pretending that nothing ever happened. It is about letting go of the fact that the past can be changed and choosing to live in the present reality that the relationship has changed.
It can never go back to the way it was before. Yet, many would rather sever the ties altogether than live with the memory of ties that were broken. Many would rather abandon people and community for their own self-justification than to admit their own contributions to the problem. And many would rather stir up the proverbial pot than sense opportunities for kindness, graciousness, and gratitude.
The fact is, we are in a constant state of relational negotiation. The question is, how we choose to live in that state – to pretend that it does not exist or to recognize its constant existence; to ignore its difficulty or to search in the difficulty for love; to fear the challenges or to accept and deal with its reality.
Here’s the thing: We all stand naked before God. God knows who we are and what we do. We might fool everyone around us. We might even fool ourselves. But, we will never fool God.
But, we need not stand there in fear. And we shouldn’t do anything but realize our own fault when it is in fact our fault.
Only then can the brokenness be repaired. And then it’s not the devil made me do it, but Christ who made me. Amen