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The Blame Game June 10, 2012

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Genesis 3:9-15

Proper 5

June 9-10, 2012

Focus: God does not leave us to our sin but takes charge, rescuing us through His Son.

Function: That the hearers accept responsibility for their sin and truly receive forgiveness.

Structure: This is the problem…this is the response of the gospel…these are the implications.

The Blame Game

            It’s the classic tale.  Two boys rough-housing when they know they’re not supposed to.  One pushes the other.  He pushes back.  Until one of them falls and bumps the end table, sending grandmother’s vase crashing to the floor.  Mom comes rushing in to find that family heirloom in pieces.  With one glance at the boys, they both respond immediately and identically, “He did it (point)!”

We’ve all seen it in some form or another.  And likely, many, maybe most, have done it.  We learn at a very early age to pin the blame on someone else.  We don’t want to get in trouble and have to face the consequences.  So we blame a sibling or a friend instead.  We blame the dog when the homework isn’t done, or our parents keeping us up late when we fall asleep in class.   We blame work for ruining our families.  Stress for tearing apart marriages.  Busy and hectic schedules for poor parenting.

The blame game goes on and on.  It’s a never-ending cycle when we allow ourselves to get caught up in it.  We lack the desire to accept responsibility for our own actions, mistakes, and faults.  But we’re not alone.  When we look to our text today, we learn that the blame game has been around for some time.

All the way back to the fall.  The day that Eve gave in to temptation, took the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  From the moment she sank her teeth into the flesh, sin began its work in this world.  Eve ate, Adam ate.  Together they disobeyed their God and Creator and instead went after their own desires.  Together they plunged into the depth of sin and evil.

We see the result.  God comes walking along in the Garden, looking for Adam.  And we get the question.  “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  And to Eve, “What is this you have done?”  God questions both, gives both the opportunity to confess of their sins, take responsibility for their actions.

But notice neither does.  Both Adam and Eve cast the blame somewhere else.  It’s not really my fault, the serpent made me do it.  Like you and me, Eve is quick to cast the blame on someone else, on the serpent, fearing God’s judgment.  But Adam goes a step further.  He doesn’t just cast blame on someone else.  “The woman You put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Adam blames two people.  He casts the blame on God first and the woman, also.  This is her fault.  She’s supposed to be my helper; she gave it to me, so I trusted her.  This is all Your fault God.  You made her.  You put her here.  You decided to give her to me as a wife.  It’s as though he forgot how excited he was when he first laid eyes on her.

Have you ever noticed are tendency to blame God for things?  In a book called “Reaching for the Invisible God”, Philip Yancey talks about just this topic.

“When Princess Diana died in an automobile accident, a minister was interviewed and was asked the question “How can God allow such a terrible tragedy?” And I loved his response. He said, “Could it have had something to do with a drunk driver going ninety miles an hour in a narrow tunnel? Just How, exactly, was God involved.”
In our weakness and wavering faith, God often gets blamed for things. And we need to be careful about that.
Years ago, boxer, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, killed a Korean opponent with a hard right hand to the head. At the press conference after the Korean’s death, Mancini said, “sometimes I wonder why God does the things he does.”
In a letter to Dr. Dobson, a young woman asked this anguished question, “Four years ago, I was dating a man and became pregnant. I was devastated. I asked God, “Why have you allowed this to happen to me?”
Susan Smith, the south Carolina mother a couple years ago who pushed her two sons into a lake to drown and then blamed a fictional car-jacker for the deed, wrote in her confession: “I dropped to the lowest point when I allowed my children to go down that ramp into the water without me. I took off running and screaming, ‘Oh God! Oh God, no! What have I done? Why did you let this happen?”
Now the question remains, exactly what role did God play in a boxer beating his opponent to death, a teenage couple giving into temptation in the back seat of a car, or a mother drowning her children?  Is God responsible for these acts?”

 

You and I can come up with more examples for sure.  At any given funeral, there is usually someone blaming God for the death.  Whether it’s the idea that God took them, needed them, or merely blaming God for not stopping it from happening, blaming God is common, but it’s wrong.

When bad things happen in this world, when you suffer, hurt, or die, God isn’t the one at fault.  We learn in Romans 5 that “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”  Bad things happen in this fallen world.  Death happens in this world.  But all of it is a result of sin.

When it comes to blame, when we’re looking around for who’s at fault for our problems, we only have one real answer.  There’s really only one person to blame.  As I remember hearing a couple times growing up, when you point a finger at someone, where are most of your fingers pointing?  The others are all aiming right back at you.

Truth be told, when push comes to shove, we are all responsible for our own deeds, words, thoughts, and actions.  Sin is ours.  We do it, not someone else.  Pastor uses this mindset when talking about why we baptize infants.  Some of our Christian brothers and sisters claim that God doesn’t hold kids accountable for their actions, that somehow they are perfect until they reach the age of accountability.  So they don’t baptize until that point in life.  But there’s a problem.  Infants die.  Babies don’t always make it.  Children don’t always live to the age of accountability.  And so we remember Romans 5, and that death is a result of sin.  When a young child dies, they died because of their sin.

This sermon so far has been depressing.  The text thus far is depressing.  It’s the fall of mankind into sin.  It’s our history and our life.  We’ve seen God dishing out punishment, though so far only to the serpent.  Adam and Eve’s punishment is in the verses just following our reading.

At this point, God had every right to blame us for our sin.  Every right to banish us, or simply do away with this now fallen creation altogether.  And if He had, you and I would not be here today.  But instead, God chose to give hope.

In the final verse of our reading today we see an example of two-fold prophecy, something with a double meaning.  On the one hand, God is referencing the behavior of man and snakes in relationship to one another.  We don’t get along.  They try to bite, we try to crush.

But there’s another meaning to this verse, a meaning with far greater power and purpose.  In reference to Eve’s offspring, the second meaning is Christ.  The same can be seen in God’s punishment of Eve, that the woman’s pains in childbearing would be increased, but also that she, Eve, would be saved through childbearing, through the offspring, that is through Jesus.

The battle between Jesus and Satan, the offspring crushing the head, and the serpent biting the heal, is a theme picked up by Mark the gospel writer, and we even catch a glance of that in our gospel reading.  But the idea is simple.  There is a battle between good and evil, God and Satan, and Jesus crushes Satan.

See, when God had the opportunity to cast blame, and the opportunity to disown us altogether, He chose differently.  He decided to take responsibility for us, like a parent will sometimes do for their child’s actions.  God sent His One and only Son into the world to take responsibility, to bear on His shoulders the punishment for our sins.  Jesus Christ, the perfect One, suffered and died on account of our sins.  He took on our punishment to give us life.  He crushed the serpent to restore us to God.

God accepted responsibility on behalf of His creation.  He took on our sin and forgives us.  In Christ, there is forgiveness, life and salvation.  As Christians, children of God, we are not to cast blame on one another or anyone else.  God calls on us as His people to take responsibility for our own sins and faults.  He calls on us to repent, that is to confess our sins and turn away from them, to give up sin and return to His love and care.  Through the workings of the Holy Spirit in us, we are able to truly repent.  And through the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.  So now we take a moment, we reflect and examine ourselves, we take responsibility for our own thoughts, behaviors, and sins.  We confess and lay them down at the foot of the cross.  And we hear the words of our Savior.

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