Flourish // Part 2


Series: Flourish

Speaker: BJ Chursinoff

God designed our relationships to flourish, and yet we all experience brokenness in our relationships. What happened? Why is there such a big gap between what God intended for us and what we experience in our relationships today? In this message, we’ll look back at where it all went wrong, and see some of the ways we’ve been experiencing the fallout in our relationships ever since. But don’t worry - we’ll also discover that God has always had a plan to fix everything.

Transcription (automatically-generated): 

We're taking a few weeks to look at and think about God's good design for our relationships. Quick show of hands. I just want to make sure that I'm preaching to the choir here. You want your relationships to flourish, right? Raise your hand.

Okay. That's what I thought. I just want to make sure that we're tracking together. We're going to pick things up from where we left off last week. If you missed part one of this series, you can catch up by watching last week's sermon online.

But since you don't have time to do that now, here are the Cole's notes from last week. God created the heavens and the Earth, and he designed them with the intention that every aspect of his creation would flourish. Every aspect. This means when it comes to our relationships, God designed them with flourishing in mind. We looked at five aspects of God's design for human relationships.

In Genesis one and two, we saw that mankind is binary, both male and female. We saw that man and woman both have the exact same value because both are made Amago day in the image of God. We saw that man and woman have different roles. That man was designed by God to lead and woman was designed by God to help. We saw that the family is God's plan for relationships that flourish.

And we daydreamed what our families and relationships would have been like if the events of Genesis Three never happened. And finally, we saw that God must be at the center of our lives if we want our relationships to flourish. The designer designed it so that he had to be in the center of everything he designed in order for flourishing to occur. And that brings everyone up to speed. And now we can ask this question, what happened?

Where did it all go so wrong? When did everything begin to fall apart? Why don't our relationships flourish today? Well, God pinpoints for us in his word, the exact moment in human history where we threw away God's perfect design for our lives and for our relationships. Remember, everything was perfect in Genesis One and Genesis Two.

It's in Genesis Three where everything goes sideways. So if you have your Bible with you, go ahead and turn with me to Genesis chapter three, verses one to six is where we're going to start. And we're going to see that Adam and Eve, we're going to see what Adam and Eve did that jacked up everything so badly for us. So let me read that passage for us. Genesis three, starting in verse, is now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, Did God really say you can't eat from any tree in the garden? The woman said to the serpent, we may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden, but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. God said, you must not eat it or touch it or you will die. No, you will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman. In fact, God knows that when you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Okay, so what happened? They had the rules which weren't unfair by any stretch of the imagination.

God commanded them not to eat from that one single tree. The serpent came and deceived Eve, and then they did what God commanded them not to do. Eve ate first, and then she gave some to Adam and he ate too. And it was from that exact moment in human history that everything began to fall apart. If you're new to the Bible, you might be hearing this and thinking to yourself, that seems like a little bit of an overreaction on God's part.

You're telling me that they ate one piece of fruit and the penalty was that the whole creation was consigned to ruin? Yes, because eating a single piece of fruit wasn't the issue. The issue was that when they dismissed God's command, they dismissed God. They Dishonored God, they didn't trust God. They rebelled against God, they committed crime against God, they sinned against him.

They rejected him as the center of the design for their lives. And like when you pull on a loose string on a sweater, everything began to unravel. Adam and Eve's rejection of God broke something in them, and that brokenness has been inherited by every single human being since then, with one glaring exception, of course. And though our first parents were the conduits that ushered sin into this world and into our lives, we can't blame them. Only we can choose to have our lives revolve around God.

But when we don't choose that, we suffer the same kind of consequences that Adam and Eve experienced in their life and relationships. There was relational follow that came as a result from this episode in the Garden of Eden in Genesis three and four. We can see four specific ways that rejecting God has affected our relationships, not just back then. We can see how we experienced the same follow in our relationships to this very day. And so here's the first silly on your outline.

Because of sin, we experience shame in our relationships. Because of sin, we experience shame in our relationships. Here's what the dictionary has to say about shame. It says Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Can I ask you a question?

If you ever felt painful humiliation because of something that you did that was wrong or foolish. Would you want other people to know about what you did? Of course you wouldn't. Your first instinct would be to hide the thing that you did from others. I think it's very interesting that this is the exact course of action that we see Adam and Eve take after they sinned in the garden, they hit themselves.

So let's pick things up. In Genesis three, starting in verses seven, just in the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze. And they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, Where are you? And he said, I heard you in the garden. And I was afraid because I was naked. So I hid. We see Adam and Eve hide in two ways.

First, we see them hiding from each other. They did this by hiding their nakedness from each other when they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. And second, we see them hiding from God. They did this by hiding behind some trees. Adam and Eve hid from each other and they tried to hide from God too.

And here's the thing. We do the exact same thing today. When we are ashamed of something, we hide. We try to we hide from one another when there is something in our life that we are ashamed of. But we're not sewing fig leaves together to hide ourselves today.

So what does our hiding from each other look like? Well, we can hide from each other in a literal sense. We do this when we isolate ourselves and stop physically interacting with people in our lives. We reason like this. I don't have to feel ashamed around other people if I'm never around other people.

Now, we can hide from each other figuratively too. We may still put ourselves in positions where we are around other people on a regular basis, but we will hide the specific details about our life that we don't want anyone else to see. We just won't talk about it. We won't bring it up on our own, and we'll deflect or downplay or deny. If someone ever asks us about the thing that we're ashamed of and why do we do it?

Why do we hide when we're ashamed? Well, we believe a narrative that plays in our head over and over, and it sounds something like this. If anyone ever found out about this thing I did, then they would finally know what kind of a person I really am. And then no one would love me or accept me. I'd be rejected and alone forever.

We believe that narrative, and so we hide. And our hiding has a negative effect on our relationships. If we hide from everyone in our life, we won't have meaningful relationships with anyone in our life. The people in our life will get a version of us that we feel safe enough to project to them. They get the Instagram version of our life where everything is shiny and glossy and filtered and perfect.

They get half truths about us, but nobody gets the whole truth. The truth that includes my failures and struggles. No one gets that. The truth that the things I'm ashamed of actually affects me on a daily basis. They don't get that either.

And here's the irony. We're scared we'll lose relationships, that people know what's really going on in us, but because we're hiding all the time, we don't have any real relationships to begin with. I'm going to wrap up this point with a necessary nugget of wisdom when we're talking about hiding and sharing. I'm not suggesting for a second that we share all of the hardest parts of our life with every single person we know or to come into contact with. That wouldn't be wise.

That would be foolish. There needs to be a healthy level of trust with the people we share these parts of our life with. So I'm not saying to stop hiding everything from everyone. But what I would be curious to know, though, is that there is anyone who you share any of these things with, or do you hide at all from everyone? It's because of sin we have shame, and shame has negative ramifications on our relationships.

Here's the next filling on your outline. Because of sin, we play the blame game. Because of sin, we play the blame game. Whenever we blame someone for something, what we're doing is assigning responsibility to them for a fault or wrong that we have done. We've done something wrong, we're at fault.

But instead of accepting the responsibility for my actions, I'm going to try and pawn that responsibility off to someone else instead. And again, we see this play out in Adam and Eve's relationship in Genesis Three. After they sinned, we'll pick things up in verses eleven, then he God asked, who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? The man replied, the woman you gave to be with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate.

So the Lord God asked the woman, what have you done? And the woman said, the serpent deceived me and I ate. So there are three examples of blame we can see in these verses. In verse twelve, Adam blames God. I hate the fruit, but guess what?

It's the woman you gave me just turned this back to you, and if you didn't give it to me, there would be no fruit ending fiasco in the garden. Also in verse is Husbands take note of what not to do. Adam blames Eve. God, you're coming at me. She gave me some of the fruit from the tree and I ate.

So it's you and it's her. But this is not me. Don't put me on the stage, on the spotlight here. And then in verse 13, Eve gets in on the action and she blames the serpent. What have you done?

No, not me. The serpent. So God, each other and the serpent, but none of it is pointing at us now. It doesn't matter how they got to this place where they have forbidden fruit juice dripping down their face and the skin of forbidden fruit stuck in their teeth. It doesn't matter how they got here.

The fact remains, nobody forced them to sin against God. It was a free will decision of theirs. No one else was responsible for their actions. Satan didn't put the fruit in their mouth and physically forced their jaws up and down so that they chewed it and swallowed it. They made the choice to eat.

They chose to disobey, but then they tried to pass the buck after the fact. So what does blame reveal in a person's life? How does blame impact our relationships? Well, blame reveals a denial of the truth and refusal to own our parts in the problem. It's my fault.

But I don't want to admit that it's my fault, because if I can somehow show that it's not my fault, then I have nothing to be ashamed about and I have no responsibility to make things right. The person who's at fault is the one who has to make it right. And that person isn't me is you or someone else. We tell ourselves, and blame has a negative impact on us and our relationships because blame divides us. If the problem won't be acknowledged and owned up to whatever the problem is, then the problem can't be addressed and then the problem will never go away.

Now you have a problem in the middle of your relationship that's causing a divide, and you have a relationship that is constantly marred by division. When blame is the go to coping mechanism after sin, there could be no fixing a problem when there is no acknowledging the problem. Adam and Eve started playing the blame game after they rejected God in the Garden, and we've been playing the same game in our relationships ever since. Okay, here's your next feeling on your outline. Because of sin, we claim roles for ourselves that aren't ours, or we claim the right role in the wrong way.

This particular example of the follow from The Sin in the Garden takes place specifically within the confines of the marriage relationship. In a couple of weeks, we're going to spend a whole message on marriage. So I'll keep this point simple and focus on what we can see in only one verse. Really, only half of a verse is the last half of Genesis, chapter three, verses 16. After Adam and Eve sinned, God pronounced curses upon them in relation to their role in the sin.

He pronounced curses upon them in this order, the serpent, and then Eve, and then Adam. But we're going to focus our attention on what God spoke to Eve. So here's Genesis 316. It reads like this. He which is God said to the woman, I will intensify your labor pains.

You will bear children with painful effort. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you. What does it mean that Eve's desire would be for her husband, but he would rule over her? God is not saying that she would have positive feelings toward him. Honey, I desire you so much.

I want you and I like you and I just want to be. I desire you. He's not saying that, and God is not saying that he would rule over her in a good general way as the head of the family. What God is saying in Genesis 316 is that one of the consequences of sin is that there would now be tension in the marriage relationship that wasn't there before the fall. Woman is now going to try and dominate her husband, and man is going to try and dominate his wife.

She's going to try and claim a role in the marriage that isn't hers, and he is going to try and claim the role in the marriage that is his, but go about it in the wrong way. John Piper weighs in on this discussion in a clear and concise way. Speaking on Genesis 316, he says this, this is a description of the curse. It's a description of misery, not a model for marriage. This is the way it's going to be in history where sin has the upper hand.

But what is really being said here? What's the nature of this ruined relationship after sin? The key comes from recognizing the connection between the last words of this verse, Genesis 316, and the last words of Genesis four seven. In Genesis chapter four, verses seven, God is warning Cain about his resentment and anger against Abel. God tells him that sin is about to get the upper hand in his life.

Notice at the end of chapter four, verses seven, Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. The parallel here between Genesis 316 and 47 is amazingly close. The words are virtually the same in the Hebrew, but you can see this in English as well. In Genesis 316, God says to the woman, Your desire is for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

In Genesis four seven, God says to King Sin's, Desire is for you and you shall rule over it. Now the reason this is important to see is that it shows us more clearly what is meant by desire. In Genesis 47 says that sin is crouching at the door of King's heart and that his desire is for him. It means that sin wants to overpower him, it wants to defeat him and subdue him and make him a slave of sin. Now, when we go back to Genesis 316, we should probably see the same meaning in the sinful desire of woman.

When it says, Your desire shall be for your husband, it means that when sin has the upper hand in woman, she will desire to overpower or subdue or exploit man. And when sin has the upper hand in man, he will respond in like manner and with his strength subdue her or rule over her. So what is really described in The Curse of Genesis 316 is the ugly conflict between the male and female that has marked so much of human history. Maleness as God created has been depraved and corrupted by sin. Femaleness as God has created, it has been depraved and corrupted by sin.

The essence of sin is selfreliance and selfexaltation, first in rebellion against God and then in exploitation of each other. End Quote It was a long one. It was a long one, but it was a good one. You ever wonder why there could be so much tension in marriage? Well, it's a result of the rejection of God that took place in the garden and it is plainly shown to us in Genesis Three, verse 16.

We're going to talk more about marriage in a couple of weeks, but for now we can see that because of sin we claim roles that aren't ours or we claim the right role, but in the wrong way. Now, a fourth follow up from sin that negatively affects our relationships. We maim each other. This is going to be the next feeling on your outline. Because of sin, we maim each other.

I hope it's obvious. I chose this word name because it rhymes with the other three words. And so here's a dictionary definition. If you don't know what name means, it means to wound or injure someone so that part of the body is permanently damaged. Again, we see this play out in the early pages of Genesis.

We can see this dynamic playoff between the first two brothers, Cain and Abel. Let me read this next passage for us. Genesis, chapter four, starting in verse, is the man was intimate with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, I have a male child. With the Lord's help, she also gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now, Abel became a shepherd of flocks, but Cain worked the ground. In the course of time, Cain presented some of the Land's produce as an offering to the Lord, and Abel also presented an offering, some of the first born of his flock and their fat portions. The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but he did not have regard for Cain in his offering. Cain was furious and he looked despondent. Then the Lord said to Cain, Why are you furious?

And why do you look despondent. If you do what is right, won't you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. His desire is for you, but you must rule over it. Cain said to his brother Abel, let's go out to the field.

And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Cain maimed his brother Abel. He maimed him so bad that he killed him. Why? Because his brother's actions were righteous and his weren't.

What was praiseworthy and able highlighted what was dishonorable in Cain. But why kill him over that? Well, if I look bad when compared to someone verse is have at least two options. I can change and do the right thing to like them. Or I could eliminate that other person and then I won't look bad compared to them anymore.

Now it's rare and extreme that a person would kill someone else like Cain killed Abel in Genesis four. So in what ways do we name each other in our relationships today? What would it look like for us, for any of us to be like King? Well, it would mean that anytime some weakness or bad habit in our lives is exposed by contrast to someone else's goodness, instead of dealing with our weakness or bad habit, we keep away from those whose lives make us feel defective. We don't kill them, we just avoid them.

Or worse, we find ways to criticize them so as to neutralize the part of their lives that was making us feel convicted. We feel like the best way to nullify someone's good point is to draw attention to their bad point. And it's in this way that we name each other. I will tear you down so that I can be lifted up.

Shame, blame, claim, name. We see these things affect human relationships immediately after mankind rejected God. We see this in just the third and fourth chapters of Genesis. And by the time we get to just Genesis six, we read this in Genesis chapter six, verse five. When the Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the Earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, the Lord regretted that he had made man on the Earth, and he was deeply grieved.

You see, removing the designer from the center of the design caused everything to unravel very quickly. And if we're honest, we can testify that all of these issues have affected us and all of our relationships in some way, shape or form. These aren't just examples from a bygone era captured for us in Genesis three and four. These are things we know all too well of today. So that's the problem.

And that's the fallout from the problem. God diagnoses it for us in his would he reject the designer and the design falls apart. So what's the solution? I want you to think about this with me. If the problem can be pinpointed to the time in human history when mankind rejected God and then everything began to fall apart, then the solution should be the reversal of that event, shouldn't it?

If when we rejected God and our relationships began to fall apart when he was no longer at the center of our lives, then if we can somehow be reconciled to God and he is once again placed in the center of our lives, our relationships can begin to be put back together again. It's got kind of a Humpty Dumpty feel to it, and that's the solution. It's the beginning of it anyway. Mankind needs to be reconciled to God. So how do we do that?

How do we get reconciled to God? We're going to jump from the Old Testament and we're going to jump into the new and listen to what the Apostle Paul says about reconciliation in Two Corinthians, chapter five, verses 17 to 21. I put this passage on your outline. Here's what the Apostle Paul says to us, speaking of reconciliation starting to verse 17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old has passed away and see the new has come. Everything is from God who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the Ministry of reconciliation that is in Christ. God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ. Since God is making his appeal through us, we plead on Christ's behalf be reconciled to God.

He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Now, a couple of observations from this passage. First, God is the one who reconciles us to Himself. We see this in verse 18. We don't reconcile ourselves to God.

He reconciles us to Him and thank God he offers us this reconciliation because when we rejected Him, he could have just let us have what we wanted. All of us wanted a life without Him at the center of it. And he could have said, Fine, do it. And even if we came to our verses and wanted to come back into a relationship with God, we couldn't do it if he wasn't a willing participant in our reconciliation. We can never demand that or force that from Him.

Hey, God, I'm back. Hey, remember me? I know I messed up pretty bad before, but can we try this relationship thing out again between me and you? I want you back at the center of my life right now. And if God was like, no, I don't think so.

You already had your chance. We'd be hooped. We couldn't make him take us back if he didn't want to. So good thing. Our reconciliation with him is his idea.

God knew we would reject Him when he made us, and he made us anyway. He made us with a plan already in place to reconcile us to Himself after we rejected Him. And that plan was Jesus Christ. Which brings me to the second observation from our passage in Two Corinthians five. And it's this we are reconciled to God through Christ and in Christ.

So in verses 18 and 19, Paul tells us that Jesus is the way that sinful mankind is reconciled to a Holy God. Jesus is the Means of Our Reconciliation Now I'd like us to take a moment to think about Jesus, and I want us to think about Jesus in light of the four things that have plagued us and our relationships because of our rejection of God. Let's consider Jesus through the lens of shame, blame, claim, and name, because when it comes to shame, Jesus didn't have anything in himself to be ashamed about because Jesus never sinned against God or anyone else for that matter. Jesus lived a sinlessly, perfect life. Jesus never blamed anyone else for his sin because you have to have sin in your life to blame someone else for it.

He never had any of his own sin to deal with, but he did end up taking the blame of others upon Himself. See, we are to blame for our own sin. But Jesus took upon Himself the sin that we all should have been blamed for. He took our sin when he was on the cross, and Jesus never wrongfully claimed a role that wasn't his as a kid, he honored the authority of his parents and submitted to them. And all throughout his entire life, Jesus submitted to the authority of his Father in heaven, even though Jesus was fully God too.

Listen to how Jesus describes the way that he lived in submission to the Father. John, Chapter 519 Jesus replied, Truly, I tell you, the Son is not able to do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Sun likewise does these things. And John 1249 Jesus goes on to say this, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. Jesus only did what he saw the Father do.

Jesus only said what the Father told him to say. It wasn't beneath Jesus to take the role of submission and to defer to the Father in everything. He embraced the role of submitting to the Father, even though that submission meant him going to the cross. We hear Jesus's famous words uttered in the garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed. In Luke 22 42, Jesus said, Father, if you are willing to take this cup away from me, nevertheless not my will, but Lord, I'm going to submit to your will.

Yours be done, Father. And when Jesus came to the Earth the first time, he didn't come to maim anyone, even though humanity deserved to be punished for its sin. He didn't come to condemn the world, but to save the world. The world deserved to be maimed for its sin. We rebelled against the Holy and eternal and awesome God.

We deserve to die for our sin, but Jesus let himself be maimed in the world's place. We rejected God and deserve to be cut off from relationship to Him, both now in this life and forever in the next. But God loved mankind so much that he didn't want to give us what we deserved. So instead, the Son of God was given as a substitute for us. He was cut off so that we could be brought back into a relationship with God on the cross.

All of our rejection of God, all of our rebellion, all of our crime and treason against him was placed upon Jesus, and Jesus suffered the punishment for all of it in our place. Two Corinthians 521 says he speaking of Jesus became sin, and when he did, the Father Port out his righteous wrath against our sin on his Son, who stood in our place. Jesus was maimed to death on the cross, and he was buried. And on the third day he rose to life. Anyone who receives the resurrected Jesus into their life will be reconciled to God through him.

Jesus is the means of our reconciliation to God, and we can see how awesome he is against the backdrop of shame and blame and claim and name. Those things plague us, but against the backdrop, Jesus shines so bright. So how do you receive Jesus into your life if you've never done this before? Well, you believe on him. You turn your entire life over to Him, all of it.

So, there's no scenario where we would receive Jesus into our life. And he's not the center of every aspect of it. He doesn't come into our life as a fringe, part time God. We are not reconciled into a relationship with God, where we pick and choose what instructions of his we will obey or disobey. The designer only comes in to be the center of the life he designed for us.

Do you want him like that? Then receive Him. Tell him your sorry for rejecting him and ask him to forgive you. And he will. And then spend the rest of your days learning how to follow Him.

This is how a person is reconciled to God the very first time. This is how someone becomes a Christian. But what if you're already a Christian and you're still experiencing some of the relational fallouts from the sin that took place in the Garden of Eden? What if you've been a Christian for a while now and you still experience some measure of shame and blame and claim and maim in your relationships? Well, a couple of things to consider if this is you first.

When Christ reconciles us back to God, God is placed in the center of our lives, and we begin to heal and our lives begin to come back into the rhythm that God has designed for them. It takes a lifetime to align ourselves with God's way of life. We can and we will experience a certain level of flourishing in this life. But we won't experience his life perfectly and fully until we get to heaven. We can have some now, but the full meal deal is still to come.

And second, when God takes his place at the center of our lives, our life is not set to autopilot. We have to choose to walk with him. We have to daily decide to do life his way. This is what the Bible calls abiding in Christ, and we don't always do this well as Christians. So what happens if God is in me?

But I choose to do some things in my relationship, so he says not to do. Will I experience blessing as a Christian if I don't obey Christ? Of course not. And if you find yourself in a season like this in any of your relationships, the solution is not to become a Christian all over again. The solution is to repent and turn that area of your life over to God's care and control.

And then we can begin to experience health there again, maybe for the first time in some instances. So how does receiving God into your life impact you and your relationships? Whether you're becoming a Christian for the very first time or you're coming back to him after some wandering? Well, here's a snapshot of how a reconciled relationship with God can influence how we deal with shame, blame, claim and meme. See, with God at the center of our lives, we have nothing to be ashamed about anymore.

Why not? Because everything we should rightly be ashamed about was taken by Jesus and paid for on the cross. We've been made clean, spiritually. My sins are gone, Christian. Your sins, they're gone.

Yes, I did those things in my life, and yes, I'm not proud of them. But those things aren't on my life anymore. They're gone. Praise God. This leads me to being able to share those things in various relationships that I'm in.

I used to hide that part of my life from others, but now I don't have to hide it from anyone anymore. I can be truly known by other people. That's one of the impacts of the gospel. With God at the center of my life, I don't ever have to blame anyone for my sins ever again. Why not?

Because the sins that I've committed have been forgiven, and any sin I commit in the future already has forgiveness secured for it. All I need to do is bring it to God and he's, like I got that one too. Dealt with it at all, with the it's covered all your sins in the past, all your sins in the present, and all in the future were put on the Son of God and he paid for them. All this means that I don't have to blame anyone in my relationships for the things that I do wrong in them. I can own my own stuff and receive forgiveness from God for it.

Can you imagine what kind of peace we would enjoy with each other if we never blamed anyone for anything ever again and we just owned our own stuff? With God at the center of my life now, I can claim the role that God has designed for me. I can find contentment and joy and purpose in my role. Husbands, you can reclaim the role of leader in your family and do it in a way that honors God and honors your wife. Wives, you can reclaim the role of helper in your marriage and do it in a way that honors God and honors your husband.

And with God at the center of our lives, we would never have to maim anyone in any way in order to make us feel better about ourselves. Why not? Well, because now we have a new identity in Christ. I'm not perfect, but this is so great. We have a perfect person living inside all of us.

I have a perfect person living inside me now and his name is Jesus and his perfection makes me right in God's eyes. I don't have to compare myself to anyone anymore. God accepts me perfectly on the merits of what Jesus has done and now I'm good in God's eyes all because of Jesus. And not only do I not need to tear others down so I can be lifted up because of what Jesus did for me, I can turn around and now do the same thing for others. He offered himself up to be maimed for my sake.

He was torn down so that I could be lifted up and blessed in my new relationship with God. Now I can choose to sacrifice myself in certain circumstances within my relationship so that those around me can be blessed. I can walk in Jesus footsteps. I can go low so other people can be lifted up. When mankind rejects God shame and blame and claim and maim are sure to follow.

But when mankind is reconciled to God, shame and blame and claim and name are redeemed in a way that glorifies God and blesses us in the relationships that we have with others, isn't that amazing? But this reconciliation doesn't end with our vertical relationship with God. Believe it or not, when we get reconciled to God, the reconciliation party is just getting started. Getting right with God is the first and most important reconciliation that we need. But just because we're made right with God doesn't mean that all of our other relationships are automatically fixed.

They aren't. The damage that exists in our relationships horizontally needs to be addressed. And the way that God provided vertical reconciliation in Him with Jesus or with him in Jesus serves as the way we can experience reconciliation in our horizontal relationships, too. Sin fractures our relationships. But Jesus is the means to reconciliation in our relationships.

So, here's the pattern that we see in our own reconciliation with God. See, God initiated the reconciliation process with me, and he initiated it with you too. God forgave us, and then we receive his forgiveness, and then we're reconciled. And if we want healthy relationships, we need to be the ones to initiate reconciliation where it's needed, like God initiated it with us. I need to forgive others when they've wronged me, and I need to be the one to ask for and receive their forgiveness when I've wronged them.

We need to be the ones to initiate reconciliation in our relationships where there is a fracture. This is what Paul instructs us to do in Romans chapter twelve, verse 18. Concerning this matter. He says, if possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

In Matthew in The Mount, Jesus also says this. He says, Blessed or happy are the peacemakers, not just the ones who enjoy peace. He's the ones who give themselves to constructing peace and bringing about peace. To initiate peace, you'll be the blessed ones. You'll be the happy ones if you pursue that end, but be prepared.

Not everyone will respond positively to your attempts at mending the broken relationship, but you're not responsible for how others respond. You are only responsible for your choices and your actions. Sometimes others will reciprocate your efforts and meet you halfway in the reconciliation process, and other times they won't. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what they do or don't do. You do the right thing anyway.

You pursue reconciliation if possible, as far as it depends on you live at peace with everyone. And we've just scratched the surface here. How to forgive and how to receive forgiveness really needs its whole, entire own message. I think we'll need to come back to this at some point in the future and spend more time here, because I am convinced utterly that unforgiveness lies at the root of so many of our personal problems today in the Christian life. But we just keep justifying our unforgiveness, and then we keep having brokenness Mark our life and our relationships.

So we'll have to talk more about that some other time now, because we're in the final stretch of this message, I'm actually going to invite Jeff to come back up. We need to be reconciled to God. We need to be reconciled to each other, and lastly, we need to reconcile others with God. This is the outworking of our text. In Two Corinthians, chapter five, halfway through verse 19, Paul says, and he, the Lord has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

Therefore, we Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ. Since God is making his appeal through us, we plead on Christ's behalf be reconciled to God when we see brokenness in other people, especially in people that we have a relationship and in the people that we love. And we know that the solution to their problem is that they need to be reconciled with God. If they haven't had that happen yet, what should we do? We should let ourselves be used by God to point them to the reconciliation they so desperately need.

We should share the gospel with them. We should share with them what God has done to make reconciliation with Him possible. We should tell them about Jesus and invite them into relationship with Him so that they, too, can enjoy him at the center of their life and so that his life can begin to flow through them into all their various relationships as well. That's the pathway to relationships that flourish. You bow your heads and pray with me, Father?

I call it the Christian life. Life, the way that you designed it, it really is simple. It's just not easy at all. It's like impossible. It's simple.

You're everything, period. You're worth everything. You're the point of everything, Lord. Everything exists because of you and through you and for you. You're the designer, and you design this whole thing.

You rigged this whole thing for you to be the nucleus of it, the center of it, where everything revolves around you. And when it does, there's Shalom, there's peace and prosperity and blessing and honor and joy and purpose and meaning. It's really simple, but it's just not easy, Lord, because there's something in us that is broken. And we reject you. And we just think we know better.

We think we could do it without you or on our own way or on our own timetable, with our own methods. And we reject you. And then we wonder why things are such a mess.

I pray, Lord, for the supernatural work that has to take place in any of our hearts, in all of our hearts that says that our hearts begin to awaken and cry out to you and for you, Jesus. I want you at the center. Whether you've been at the center of my life for five decades, I want you to still stay there. Whether I've wandered for five minutes, Lord, I wander wander back to you where you're the center, whether I don't even know you yet. I have heard about Christianity and Jesus my whole life.

Maybe I've never turned my life over to you, Lord. Do that in someone's life today. Right now, it's simple. You have to be at the center, and you have to stay there. And so give us the Grace, Lord, that we need to have you in the center of our lives.

And then give us the Grace that we need in order to walk and to live and to plan and to order our lives around you as the center. And open up the windows of heaven and give us the blessings that we so desperately want to experience with you. And in the relationships that you've given us in our life. Heal those relationships, Lord, we pray. Bless them.

Fix them and show us how to be used towards that end. Glorify yourself in all of these things. Jesus we pray. Amen.

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