Sunday’s sermon was about sin. I know, that seems almost blasé doesn’t it. But let me be honest, sin makes me uncomfortable.
Now, I probably need to explain that statement. Sin in my mind is something one consciously does that is against one of the Ten Com- mandments. And I have long struggled with the philosophy that one can sin unconsciously and/or that one is born with sin.
Therefore, when Scott Griffith, associate pastor at Sedalia, Missouri’s First United Methodist Church, admitted that he was gong to be talking about sin, I put up my guard. But I listened.
And I was impressed. Sin should not be a topic that causes my guard to go up or to squirm in my seat. Sin, especially as a licensed pastor, should be something I can openly discuss. So I listened.
Sin does not have to be a topic that immediately sets off a minister into a hellfire and damnation style of sermon, and Griffith certainly did not do that. Instead, he calmly handled it and reintroduced the Ten Commandments via the Emoji characters that now dominate social media and our smartphones.
I quickly shot to the internet and found his graphic and copied it for future reference. Why? Think about how our society has become so focused on visual images. The emojis have personified emotions in such an open forum that they are immediately understood and even in a non-specific language manner.
I suggest spending a few minutes reviewing the simplified version of the commandment and then study the emoji that is associated/assigned to that commandment. They communicate the effect of the sin so effectively: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwje7OOwr4LjAhVKDq0KHWYGBF0QMwhTKAAwAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F70016969189628034%2F&psig=AOvVaw2nL2na3i5GQuMwTMe737LC&ust=1561474350157640&ictx=3&uact=3
Certainly I could now go into a long essay reflecting upon each one, but I want to shift to how much simpler life is when one has to only follow onecommandment rather than ten.
When Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question as to which commandment was the greatest, he replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
–Matthew 22:36-38, NLT
In other scriptures, Jesus repeats the commandment in a range of simplified versions. Look at this list found with a search on BibleGateway.com:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must loveone another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
[Love Fulfills the Law ] Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
[Final Greetings ] Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace
[Life by the Spirit ] You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.
[Thanksgiving and Prayer ] We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
[Suffering for Doing Good ] Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
[More on Love and Hatred ] For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.1 John 3:23
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
[God’s Love and Ours ] Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.
So I ask you: Wouldn’t you rather prefer living life simply following only one commandment rather than ten?
And If I could identify an appropriate Emoji for the one commandment, it would simply have to be . . .
Please join me in prayer:
Dear loving Father,
You loved us so much that you sent your son
To teach us how to live with one another in love.
Forgive us for all the times that emotions flare up
Causing us to risk breaking the one commandment:
Love one another.
May we fill our love for one another
into our hearts and minds so no sin creeps in.
And with our lives devoted to loving others
Let us share our love for you
In as many ways as we can.
With the love and grace from you Our Heavenly Father,
through our belief in your son Jesus Christ
and the power of your Holy Spirit within us,
grant us peace and joy
that comes from loving one another. –Amen!