Summary: A sermon that considers love as an antidote to the sin of murder that can embed itself in our hearts
The Bible reading
Exodus 20 1-22
Thou shalt not kill. How come the brief statements are sometimes the most profound?
Words like _ I have a dream – For God so loved the world and – All blacks - all conjure up images for us.
Thou shalt not kill evokes for us an unlikely to becrossed line in our eyes.
Let me tell you a story.
Mr Jackson everyday looked angrily towards his neighbours.
Fushia and Watt. What kind of names were they? It made him angry. Tattoos, and, she had a nose piercing, and, their dog chased his cat.
Mr Jackson sighed.
Parties sometimes, well barbeques, cars parked on his front lawn, Loud music, laughter, and, once, a bonfire that smoked his washing. Over the years Mr Jackson had come to resent them. They were everything that he didn’t like. When they had children he predicted that they wouldn’t be any good. And he was right!!! Runny noses, hand me down clothes, and, in recent times running barefoot in the rain and playing touch on his road. Mr Jackson searched his memory for adjectives. No hopers, hippys Bolschoveks, losers and wing nuts!!!
He had grown to hate them “Bet they smoke dope!” He said to his wife before she passed away. He took notes on them, made lists, recorded incidents. He checked out their yellow topped rubbish bin at nights and once slipped an unwashed milk carton in the bin in the hope that they’d get caught. They never did and Mr Jackson pouted. Councils not doing it’s work. Of course he never told the folk at church the story – Well not the whole story. He heard a sermon on love thy neighbour, but he was sure it applied to Mrs Murphy on the other side not – not them.
One of the elders suggest that he invite them to church. But what did he know? He laughed at the very idea and said that they were too far gone really.
Last December while Jackson, full of hate, was putting his red topped bin out for collection, square to the curb of course, not like them!!! Last December while putting his red topped bin square to the curb Mr Jackson had a heart attack.
It was a bad one .Light faded. Saw a tunnel. The pain incredible –Suddenly Watt the neighbour was pounding his chest his blond hair waving in the midst of the frenetic activity. "I’m a nurse." a womans voice entered his cloud of despair – "Don’t worry!!" roared Watt , " I’m a paramedic." check his pulse. With a compassion and empathy that Mr Jackson had never heard before Watt was saying into the haze – “Hang in there Mr Jackson hang in there.”
Jackson writhed in pain as his chest was battered by the compressions.
Last sight was the nurse screaming “I’ve got a pulse, I’ve got a pulse!!”
And Jackson leaning over him and in a panicking voice “Do you know Jesus Mr Jackson? Do you know Jesus?” I’m a Baptist – Ambulance screaming with it’s rescuing whine and Jackson sharply confronted by his own thoughts – He’d hated and murdered in his mind a fellow believer.
Killed him with them –He was no worse than than a real criminal.
Thou shalt not- rang in his ears.
Mr Jackson – not this one - the popstar -once sang. The man in the mirror.
We grieve at the thought of what many tyrants have done in the world. The world is never short of villans and killers but it shocks us when we realise that the man in the mirror may have been guiity of many of their traits in terms of our attitudes.
Thou shalt not rings close to Home.
Under the searing microscope of truth our deeper emotions reveal the stuff that Jesus referred to when he said the scriptures say Matthew chapter 5 verse 21 ff 21"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 22"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
For me, personally this raises enormous questions.
It seems to be about love and the ability to love even when the subject is apparently unloveable.
This morning I would like to encourage you, and myself, about things we can enculture in our lives to build a culture that grows us towards the character of Jesus and away from the dynamics that lead to us breaking the sixth commandment.
Hate is the precursor of murder.