The Core Sunday Gathering

May 29, 2011

Love Life: It’s Complicated

Abraham & Sarah

-Last week I talked a lot about how God created relationships to look.

        -How to have intimacy… two features of Good Sex… to name a few

        -But how many of our relationships are actually healthy? 10% of the world maybe? Less?

        -Family is tough. Even friendships are tough. Romance is the hardest of all.

                -Because you’re only allowed one at a time. And somebody has to be your “soul mate”

                -Do you realize what a tall order that is? These are the expectations we put on each other.

                -Question: Why does it fail so often? Why do people break up? What are some of the reasons you know?

        -And when we break up it’s not like Jerry Seinfeld… You want to break up with me? Eh.

                -It kills us every time, right? Keeps us up at night.

                -We’re scared to death of severe relationship problems

                -And some of us carry the scars around with us for decades.

[Slides] POST-SECRET

        -[Slide] Even when it know it’s selfish, it doesn’t hurt any less.

        -[Slide] Which is worse, when the right one gets away, or when the wrong one marries you?

        -[Slide] Or maybe you wonder if YOU ARE the wrong one.

        -[Slide] Or you might be watching people get hurt from the outside, powerless to stop it.

-And sometimes this is what it feels like reading about relationships in the Bible.

        -You’re like “Don’t go in that door!” Don’t marry that guy, or that girl!

        -And you have to watch it all unfold and you can’t say I told you so. Everybody gets hurt.

-There’s a woman in 1 Samuel 25 named Abigail whose story actually has a happy ending

        -But the beginning and middle are hell on earth.

        -Tell the story of Nabal & Abigail

        -You might be able to imagine Abigail’s suffering, being a wise, beautiful woman married to a rich idiot.

                -Obviously Abigail had done her best to respect Nabal anyway, up to this point.

                -Otherwise Nabal probably would have blown up, ditched her or worse.

                -She holds her tongue and suffers quietly until she realizes Nabal is getting them all killed.

                -She had the opportunity to save the entire household because she picked her battles.

        -Question: Is it possible to respect someone you don’t respect?

                -Jesus calls us to love our enemies. In other words, love someone you don’t love.

                -In marriage, we’re called to respect someone we often don’t respect.

-This is what happens between Abraham & Sarah as well

        -Because Sarah gets put through a lot of crap, but doesn’t shine quite the way Abigail does in the end.

        -Sarah gets a sour reputation from Genesis,

                -since she loses faith in God’s promise, gives her servant to her husband, then ends up mistreating them both.

        -Although she’s responsible for her actions, it helps to take a look at her backdrop of confusion and mistreatment.

        -Sarah was culturally disgraced from the beginning, being unable to conceive

        -She had to leave home and travel hundreds of miles without knowing where

                -“Are you lost”? – “No. I know where we are. I just don’t know where we’re going.”

                -You can’t ask a guy to stop and ask for directions when he can’t name the destination.

        -Abraham wouldn’t stand up for her, said she was his sister to stay out of trouble

                -You might not want a guy to clock another guy over you, but you’d at least want him to speak up for you.

                -JEALOUSY: GOOD VS. BAD

                        -[SLIDES] Good Jealousy: selfless zeal to protect relationship and commitment

-Song of Solomon 8:7 Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

-Deuteronomy 4:24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

        -It seems to get equated with fire a lot… a purifying fire that burns the dross and leaves the silver.

        -We can express that kind of jealousy in our commitments

                        -Bad Jealousy: selfish possessiveness and paranoia

-Assign Scripture: Genesis 30:1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!"

        -What did Rachel do after that? The same thing her great aunt Sarah did. (which we’ll get to…)

        -She gave her servant to her husband. 

        -Bad Jealousy makes bad decisions. It’s irrational, and makes us unreasonable.

        -So ten years after arriving in Canaan, Sarah is tired of still not having a child

                -She thinks she can “adopt” by having her servant sleep with Abraham.

                -She chooses to rebel against God because she blames him for her childlessness

                -Abraham complies with her rebellion. Once again, he lacks a spine.

                -God’s desire was to create patience for a miracle. But they chose disaster instead.

                        -Are we prepared for God to do a long miracle in us and our relationships?

                -Sarah blames Abraham, when it was her idea.

        -This is starting to read like a textbook on dysfunctional relationships, with a long list of issues

SARAH’S ISSUES:

        -Self-pity (childless)

        -Isolation and Confusion (uprooted from Ur)

        -Insecurity (no jealousy from husband.)

        -Doubt (Unwilling to wait for God’s promise.)

        -Manipulation (pitting human wisdom against God’s plan)

        -Blame (absolving herself and blaming Abram – tries to get God to take her side)

        -Projection (misdirecting her anger toward Hagar and Abram)

        -Cyncism (laughs at the promise)

-But this is not her ending point. This is where she starts. It’s her raw materials.

        -And very little of it is her fault, but it all stems from her perception of being worthless.

        -You think, if only Abraham could have convinced her how priceless she was, things might have been different.

        -But he couldn’t fight the culture. He genuinely loved Sarah. He wasn’t always good at it, but it’s true.

                -Even if he was the strongest lover in the world, he couldn’t have fought the culture and won

                -And look at the situation we’re in now, in the present day.

                -Question: What does it take for a woman to be considered “valuable” today?

                        -What about for a man?

                -How can we fight that? We’re pairing up and breaking up and pairing up again

                        -looking for someone to tell us we’re beautiful, to tell us we’re valuable,

                        -to show us what it means to be really treasured and loved.

                        -We turn ourselves in to the culture when we believe we’re worthless

                                -You don’t see the president turning himself in to save his secret service agents

                                -Because he knows his life is priceless.

                -But we’re carrying around all this baggage and sporting all this scar tissue, and we don’t feel priceless

                        -so it’s an impossible cycle.

-If only we could know how priceless and precious each of us really is…        

[SLIDES]

Psalm 37:4 If I take delight in the LORD, he will give me the desires of my heart.

Psalm 139:13 For he created my inmost being; he knit me together in my mother's womb.

1 John 4:19 I love because God first loved me.

Romans 5:8 God demonstrated his love for me, in that while I was still a sinner, Jesus died for me.

1 Corinthians 6:19 My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in me, whom I have received from God. I am not my own; 20 I was bought at a price. (An impossibly high price.)

-Story of the 8-Cow Wife

        -Jesus purchased us… he redeemed us… for much more than 8 cows.

        -He sacrificed his eternal unity with the Father for me. And for each of us.

        -We so often try to make it complicated, but he’s made it simple. Difficult. Challenging. But simple.

        -I can love you because God first loved me.