Sermons

Summary: The second of series on ‘Developing a Heart for God’

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(1) In the introduction to his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of the ‘statue that did not look right.’ An art dealer who had a very rare statue, called a kouros, in his possession that came from the sixth century BC, (that’s six hundred years before Jesus’ birth), approached the J Paul Getty Museum in California to see if they would like to buy it. The asking price for the statue was $10 million dollars. ‘Only about two hundred kouroi [were] in existence,’ according Gladwell. (The photo in the slide is not a kouros).

The Getty staff moved cautiously and 14 months after the first contact with the dealer, a scientific examination indicated that it was authentic. However, several different art experts who were shown the kouros believed otherwise. They felt that it did not look right for that kind of statue. Furthermore, the Getty staff could not verify the authenticity of the statue and not all the information related to its history was substantiated leaving much doubt as to the statue’s authenticity. As a result, the Getty catalog entry for that item has a notation next to it, ‘About 530 BC or modern forgery.’

There is a constant stream of stories on TV, in the paper, and on the Internet about deceptive practices in the art world as well as elsewhere. But the art world is not the only world that is affected by deception and betrayal.

We, unfortunately, become victims to deception and betrayal when it comes to helping those, especially children, whose illness has created enormous costs for their families only to later find out that it was a fraud. Such actions damage the hopes for the credibly needy people who truly need such aid.

One of the things that I have had to learn here is knowing whose needs are legitimate and whose needs are not, when I am approached for assistance from people in the community. I am not batting a thousand on this and sometimes have later realized that I have probably been taken advantage of, but simply turn it over to the Lord who knows the whole story.

Then there is the deception that comes when our desire for youth is over taken by the deception of vanity with some interesting consequences. Take for example the case of Melania Neubart.

In 1955, she decided that she wanted to be 10 years younger in hopes of paving an easier road towards marriage. So claiming an error in court records, she obtained a court declaration that she was born ten years later than she actually was.

20 years go by and, still single, she realized that she was officially too young to qualify for the national insurance pension offered in her county of Israel. She then returned to court to get her birth date changed back to the original and correct date. The judge refused to rule in her favor saying that she had made the court ‘an unwitting accomplice in the perpetration of a lie.’

Have you ever been betrayed? Have you ever been lied to? Stabbed in the back?

It hurts. It is very painful. Trust becomes an issue. We do not look at people the same way. We withdraw and wonder who is for us and who is not.

Have you ever betrayed someone? Have you stabbed someone in the back?

Why do we do it? Anger? Jealousy? Fear?

We find ourselves alone don’t we? We wonder if there is anyone who still likes us and that we can call a friend.

It is just a painful as being betrayed. A sudden insight penetrates our mind and heart and we realize the awfulness of what we have done to someone that has been important and close to us.

I think that betrayal comes out of the fear of being misguided about something, primarily, I believe, expectations. Expectations are very, very important in our relationships.

Yesterday, I officiated over Brent and Tiffany’s wedding. The wedding vows they took are statements of expectation.

‘I expect,’ they say, ‘to be there for you through the good and the bad.’ ‘I expect you to be there for me as well.’ ‘We pledge before God and all of you present, that we will stay together until death do us part.’

However, many have experienced the very, very painful betrayal of those vows that has resulted in divorce. We know that those vows can, and have, been easily tossed aside.

I believe that the same holds true for faith and our relationship with the Lord. We expect certain things from the church, the pastor, and God and when they are not forthcoming, we feel betrayed. There have been serious breaches of trust between church members as well as between pastors and churches.

But what happens when we betray God or feel betrayed by God? What happens when someone walks away from the faith that they have clearly demonstrated in their lives and says, ‘I no longer believe in Christianity or God?’ Or even, in a moment of weakness, make a choice to betray their Savior and Lord with a bad choice?

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