Summary: This sermon is about the dangers of pursuing the wrong things in life.
"Living La Vida Loca (the Wild Life)" - Judges 16
Reverend Antonio L. Torrence,
Pastor of the Cross of Life Lutheran Church
I yet believe that it is equally important that the saints are socially relevant as well as biblically correct and theologically sound. It is important for us to be some earthly good while also being heavenly bound. I say that preliminary introduction to inform you that there seems to be no better song that captures the atmosphere and context of our text than that of the popular – Ricky Martin’s Living’ La Vida Loca. Now for us English bound people and those of the older generation– ‘Living the wild (crazy) life.’
In essence many of the people in the book of judges were living the Vida loca – the wild life. We are told that during this era of Israel’s history every man consistently did what was right in his own eyes. Human judgment was placed above the divine law. This third and fourth generation of Jews was benefiting from the efforts of their ancestors who came out of the wilderness and conquer the Promised Land. This generation of Israelites had the promise land but did not know how to properly use it. The social barriers and economics walls came down but they still were oppressed and in poverty. And because they lack leadership of a Joshua and Caleb, the people would sin and worship false gods until punished by for their disobedience by Yahweh. When God raised up a judge – a military or civil leader – to help deliver the people of Israel out of their oppression, like Gideon, Debra, and our own Samson, the people repented and worshipped God. They would enjoy peace and prosperity until the judge died. As soon as the appointed leader was gone the children of Israel would sin and go back into idolatry and the cycle would begin all over again. Through seven cycles of sin, repentance, and sin again, Israel would experience crazy events. From incest to gang rape, to decapitation, to superstition, the book of Judges was an era of sex, greed, and violence. Life seemed to be out of control.
Even some of God’s of chosen vessels in this book seem to have lived a life without boundaries. Let’s consider our hero – Samson and his antagonist Delilah. From the time we hear of Samson we can see the chaos in his life. Although he was a godly man, Samson was living a crazy and wild life. Because of his gift of strength he got to do what he wanted to do in life. When he wanted a wife, he demanded that his father get him a wife. He destroyed those who angered him for good reasons and bad reasons. He traveled freely among his kinsmen and his enemies with complete fearlessness. Samson also liked to instigate trouble – for example our text begins as he strides into an enemy city, sees a prostitute he likes, sleeps with her, then takes off with the gates of the city upon his shoulders, terrifying everybody around him. No one ever forbade Samson to do whatever he wanted. Samson did what was right in his own eyes.
It is still the same story today. Many are using their own definitions of ethics and morals that make their decisions. WE are a people still doing what is right in our own eyes. We say that if it feels right and makes you happy then you should do it. We see such ideologies on talk shows and read about it in the tabloids. Our relationships nowadays are based on what seems right in our eyes. Married or just living together, mates are being chosen because it feels right. Divorces and Separations are occurring because it feels right. Teenagers are having sex on the premised that it feels right in their own eyes. Anti-abortionists are bombing clinics because it seems right. The frustrated and angry gun-shooters in Atlanta, Littleton, Arkansas, and Fortsworth, Texas acted on what seems right in their own eyes. And because many live according to the principle –do what’s right in your own eyes – they are caught in living a wild, crazy life – a life that is out of control.
Now, we many of us may think that we have things under control. I mean we haven’t had a nervous breakdown or gone on a shooting rampage. However, it may be that we have become excellent jugglers of the many tasks in our lives and we haven’t dropped a ball. We’ve learned to joggle the high stress job, the managing of the children, the role of being a mate to someone else. We have it down to a schedule. Wake up a 6 am. Get the kids up and dressed while getting ourselves ready for work. Everybody piles in the car about 7:15 or 7:30. Drop junior off to the daycare. Hustle through rush hour to hectic job environment where everyone seems to call your name at once. At 5 PM hustle through rush hour to pick up the kids and drop them off for dance, piano, or art lessons. Get home at about 6:30 to start a quick dinner. At 8pm- make sure the kids homework is done are still being done. At 9 or 10 PM get those little ones to bed. And get yourself on bed only to do it all over again the next day. For us, we have it all under control. We can handle being super mom and a career woman. We can handle being part of the corporate team and a wonderful dad. We can do it all.