Brad opened the breakfast discussion with something that was passed on to him from this summer’s 125th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church in St. Paul earlier this summer. Peter Cha, an associate professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, gave a message about the questions college students are asking as pertains faith issues.
Forty years ago, Paul Little of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) recorded that the four most prevalent questions asked by college students in the modern era were these:
1. Is there a God?
2. Is Christ God?
3. Is the Bible reliable?
4. Is it full of errors?
In our own time Rick Richardson, an IVCF evangelism associate, has studied the recurring questions college students are asking in a post-modern era. They are these:
1. How can I trust the Church that has done such terrible things in the name of Jesus?
2. Does your religion help society, especially those who suffer and are marginalized?
3. Aren't you just another self-serving group?
4. Doesn't the Church justify and maintain racial and gender hierarchical structures in the society?
It was a thought provoking opening to our Roundtable discussion, and like all of our discussions this summer, mentally stimulating and challenging.
The discussion this morning centered on the importance of health and vitality in the church. Churches need to remain vital, which means that they must be in a constant state of renewal. “Churches need to invest in their own vitality,” Brad noted, which is not dependent on size, location or the age of the congregation.
Each of us has a personal responsibility in this regard.
After another good discussion, we moved upstairs to prepare ourselves for worship.
Brad welcomed us warmly and noted that today would be the last message on his summer series about the life of David. He said he would be talking about sin today. He noted that we are all sinners saved by grace, hence as we gather here we are forgiven people, not perfect people.
Announcements included the upcoming Harvest Fest to be held in two weeks at the Twig Town Hall. There are still some volunteers needed to help pull it all together. Also, there are some oranges left which can be given to your neighbors inviting them to our community event. Be sure to take an orange when you leave next week... and to share it.
Wednesday night Adventure Club is also in need of volunteers for the coming year. Please contact Brooke if you have a passion for working with the young people in our church.
Also, Brooke keeps a calendar of events so that we can coordinate our various activities. If you have something planned, notify Brooke so she can get it placed on the calendar.
And finally, Gail noted the the church rummage sale is just around the corner and we need a couple volunteers to help price things.
After a time of worship, offering, Scripture reading (Luke 14:1, 7-14) and prayer, Brad presented his sermon from the front of the sanctuary.
Today's message was drawn from the account of David and Bathsheba, as recorded in II Samuel 11 and 12. Brad opened by saying that if you are not struggling today, one day you will be struggling with sin. Whether it's a habit of cutting sarcasm or Internet porn, sin is damaging.
When we look at the story of David and Bathsheba, one wonders how a guy who was called "a man after God's own heart" and who loved God have behaved so badly. Brad showed us how this kind of thing happened in David's life and how it can happen to us.
Keep in mind that we are mistaken when we categorize sin into acceptable and unacceptable. All sin is sin in God's eyes.
The metaphor Brad use was of an intersection with a traffic light. Green means go, red means stop and yellow caution. The lights were red but David blew right through three of them. Here's the first.
II Samuel 11 begins with the first clue. It was the spring, a time when kings go off to war, but "David remained in Jerusalem." Here was the leader of Israel not being where he was supposed to be.
There are a variety of reasons we sometimes don't follow the rules. It may be we think they no longer apply to us. We know that we should follow the rules, but when push comes to shove we often slip because we don't trust that God has our best interests in mind. Brad had us jump over to II Samuel 12:7-8 where we see how God wants to give us even more than we could imagine.
One evening while David was walking on the roof of his palace he saw a beautiful woman named Bathsheba bathing on her roof. David, who was married, ignored any warning lights and sent someone to find out more about her. The man came back stating she was married to Uriah the Hittite and the daughter of Eliam. None of this hindered David who then sent messengers to get her. David disregarded the warning light and proceeded to sleep with her.
This sending is typical of people who play God, treating others as pawns in the service of their own needs. But we're not God, nor are we in control of all the variables. There are always consequences for sin. In this case, Bathsheba becomes pregnant.
David had two choices at this point: (A) Cover up... and thus perpetuate the problem. Or (B) Confess and repent, which is the path to restoration.
In verse 6 David does more sending, this time having Uriah retrieved from the battlefront, in the hopes that he will solve the pregnancy problem by sleeping with his wife. But Uriah is a man of integrity. Instead of going to his wife, he stays at the palace, sleeping with the servants. David attempts then to get Uriah drunk and send him back to his wife but Uriah, even when drunk, continues to behave honorably, stating that as long as the armies of Israel are sleeping in tents and open fields, he will not go home and sleep in his bed.
So David becomes cold, calculating, and let's Uriah return to the front, but gives orders to Joab that will ensure that Uriah dies in battle. David's heart has become cold.
Brad made the point here that David thought his biggest danger was getting caught. But there is a bigger danger, and that is not getting caught. The biggest danger, when we have sin in our lives, is getting away with it.
The Last Crossroads
Up till now David has done all the sending. But in chapter 12, God sends the prophet Nathan to confront David. Nathan, who is confronting a man who just killed someone to cover his tracks, uses a parable to get David's attention. The story riles David's righteous indignation. Then comes the twist, and God's voice broke through.
This is the last crossroads. God's judgment is next. "Some of you have gone down the road of sin for so long that you don't even know what the truth is," Brad said. "Listen to God. He wants to bless."
It's important that we get this right. Confession and repentance is the door to restoration and life.