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Dangerous Assumptions

Dangerous Assumptions

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Published by Joseph Winston

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Published by: Joseph Winston on Oct 25, 2009
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12/07/2009

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Dangerous Assumptions
The Rev. Joseph WinstonOctober 25, 2009
Sermon
Grace and peace are gifts for you from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Perhaps you have heard a story that goes something like this. Once upon atime, there was a student studying today’s lesson from Jeremiah.The days are surely coming, says the L
ORD
, when I will make a newcovenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will notbe like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt – a covenantthat they broke, though I was their husband, says the L
ORD
. But thisis the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after thosedays, says the L
ORD
: I will put my law within them, and I will writeit on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
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Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3.
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No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Knowthe L
ORD
”, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to thegreatest, says the L
ORD
; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remem-ber their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NRSV)No matter how hard he tried, this young man just could not understand the wisdomof writing the Law on a person’s heart. So, like all good students, he turned to histeacher for the answer. He asked the well-respected rabbi, “Why does God placethe Law on the outside of the heart? Would it not be better to put the Law insidethe heart where it could be used?” As it was his custom, the rabbi sat quietly for awhile before answering difficult questions. Finally, with the sound advice broughtby the difficulties of life, he turned to his favorite student and said to him, “Godplaces the Law on the outside of our hearts so that when our heart is broken by theproblems of this life, God’s Law will fall into our hearts and take root.”This brief story involving the student of the Law and his wise rabbi makes itseem as if the heart is the place where we experience emotions. It goes on andtells us at that time when our capacity for feelings is finally overrun with all thepainful suffering that the world throws at us, only then will our heart be open todoing God’s will.Unfortunately, this cute tale that attempts to explain God’s actions in our livesis completely and totally wrong. Here is why. This story makes one fatal assump-tion that needs to be clearly stated for all to hear. It is this. Everyone thinks andacts just like us.Here in the United States, this idea might seem to be the most natural thing2
 
in the entire world. After all, we are one of the last superpowers. Nations fear theforce we can quickly bring to distant shores. Our currency still drives the world’seconomy. Immigrants want one chance to live the American dream.We have been so successful as a nation that we no longer question any of the ideas we take for granted. If I were to ask you what part of your body givesyou the ability to think, without a doubt everyone here would quickly respondwith,“Your brain.” If the question then turned to feelings, your answer to whereyou experience emotions such as love and hate would be your heart.But, this is not how the world of the Bible operates. In the New and the OldTestament, the people of Israel believe the ability to control yourself resides in thehead. Your will is here. The heart gives a person the power to think and to reason.This is how you make decisions. The stomach and the bowels provide a personwith feelings. Your emotions move you.When you apply the idea that the heart is where you learn, you no longer haveto make up ways to interpret the text. Instead, the lesson suddenly starts makingsense. Everything starts to snap into place.With this information on how the body functions firmly in hand, the verbs toknowandtoteachintodaysOldTestamentlessonnowtakeoneveryday,ordinary,meanings. Knowing the Law simply means you how to apply the Law in life.Teaching the Law is nothing more than instructing others on what God expects of you.The most striking conclusion from this way of thinking is that the Law God3

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