Summary: Good reception with God requires right relationships with people.
Intro: During the last couple of weeks up at Camp Elkanah near Starkey, I found myself a bit cut off from the rest of the world. I’m really not all that attached to our cell phone, but needing to check messages at the office, I found myself wandering around camp with my phone up in the air searching for a signal. There were a few high spots where I’d get a signal for just a few seconds and then it was gone. The signal was being blocked by trees or a hill, or buildings or just distance. So I started climbing up the hill. As I did, I’d get the signal to hold a little bit longer. The higher I went and the further around the hill, the stronger the signal became. At last, the signal became strong enough to sustain a phone call and I was able to get through.
-Have you ever felt like the connection between you and God just wasn’t strong enough to sustain a conversation? Have you felt like something was blocking the way? Here’s the heart of what I want to communicate today:
Prop: Good reception with God requires right relationships with people.
TS: Let’s look at some of the relational dynamics from this passage that will give us some guidance in getting closer to God.
I. Obstacles to Good Reception with God (Matthew 5:21-24)
-Anytime we disregard what is important to God, we hinder our ability to connect with Him. And guess what is most important to God? People! Who or what else has He made in His own image? Even angels do not experience the closeness of God on the level that humans can. Angels might be considered servants, but humans are considered as sons of God- made in His image. When we attack another human verbally, emotionally, physically, we are attacking one who bears God’s image. When we withhold our love and blessing from those around us, we are operating at cross purposes with God, who pressed His image into them at conception.
-With that in mind, let’s look at a few of these hindrances or obstacles that may cause us to lose our reception with God.
A. Anger (5:21-22)
21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ’Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother [Some manuscripts add without cause] will be subject to judgment.
-Anger is generally the root cause of murder. Many murders are committed out of rage and hatred for another person. Jesus is going back to the heart of the issue and instead of saying, “Thou shalt not murder, He says, “Control the anger that leads to violence.”
-Anger can be a good thing. Apparently it is a God-given emotion. However, it has a destructive side to it that can hurt people and disable your connection with God.
-So being angry can create problems, but venting anger with words or actions can create all kinds of connection problems as well.
B. Disrespect (5:22b-c)
22b,c Again, anyone who says to his brother, ’Raca, ’is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ’You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.