Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Bible Is About Real People!

I picked the story of David and Bathsheba for today because when we read it in confirmation the kids couldn't believe that this was a story from the Bible.
We have done such a good job over the years of sanitizing the Bible that we took out all the parts that make us uncomfortable.
We have made the Bible into a book with clear lessons, that show us how the "good" people behave.
In the process we have lost the real wonder and beauty of the Bible.
It is filled with real people who are sometimes good and sometimes sin.
It is filled with real stories about the ways that human beings try to mess up our lives.
And it is about how God is faithful through all of it.
In so doing we have given our kids the wrong idea about the Bible, and about our lives.
We have given them the impression that what the Bible tries to tell them is how to be perfect.
How do we do everything right like David?
Instead of seeing that the Bible is only the story of imperfect people pursued and loved by God.

This is not only our problem.
I was reading this week how some Rabbis who were pro-David didn't like that we interpreted this story as David being the bad guy.
So instead they point out that Uriah is actually insubordinate by not going to be with Bathsheba.
And so David is right in having him killed.
I simply disagree.
And the power of the story is in David's sin, and God's forgiveness.
Actually the story leaves little doubt of David's sin.
It is complete.
Not only does he committed adultery with another man's wife, not only does he try to lie and cheat his way out of it.
Not only does he do this while the other men are off fighting his war.
Not only does he pull in other people into his plan.
But then he has the man killed so he won't be found out.
By my estimates he breaks at least 5 of the commandments.
There is no question of his sin.
I would assume that he author of the story wanted it that way.
Wanted us to not be able to let David off the hook.

And there is no doubt that God is not deceived either.
God knows what David did.
And it was God who gave David everything he has.
All his power, money, glory are God's.
God raised him up from a scrawny, harp playing, shepherd boy.
God saved him from Saul.
God anointed him king.
God gave him victories over his adversaries.
And it wasn't enough.

It makes me think of us.
How much is enough for us?
What more do we need from God?
Are we ever satisfied?
One of the great spiritual disciplines is to be content with what we have.
To love the life God has given us.
To wake up every day and thank God.
And yet, often it is not enough.
We want more, or we wish we had something that someone else has.

I point this out because it is important in the story to understand God's actions.
We often point out in the Old Testament stories that God is giving out punishments, but we forget that God has given so much.
And in David's case God is really disappointed.

In our house that is the worst thing you can be.
"I am not mad. I am disappointed"
Disappointed that you didn't act the way I taught you.
Disappointed that what you have is not good enough.
Disappointed that my love seems wasted.
You would rather have mad than disappointed.
But that is God in our story.
I gave you everything.
I would have given you more.
"Why did you do this thing?"

What we see is that God does forgive David, but what cannot be undone is consequence of that sin.
And here is where we get to the heart of the matter.
Sin sets certain things in motion.
And we can't undo it.
We can be forgiven.
We can live beyond that moment.
We can get through the consequence, but it is still felt.

I want to be clear I am not saying, "Forgive but never forget."
I am saying that when we sin and we hurt others, the consequence of that is felt far beyond the moment.
It lives on, in the lives of our children, and their children.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately.
About how we pass on to others both the good of us, and the bad.
We pass on to others what trauma's we have.
I read a couple of scientific articles about how trauma effects different generations.
For example, In 2016, Rachel Yehuda of Mount Sinai hospital and her colleagues found that Holocaust survivors and their children both had evidence of a gene associated with stress, suggesting that the survivors’ trauma was passed onto their offspring.
We don't mean to do it.
We don't want to do it.
It is something psychological that happens in our subconscious.

My great grandfather died by suicide.
My grandfather grew up without a father, and told my Dad, "I will do the best I can but I don't know how to be a father, because I have no role model."
He did the best he could, but didn't always tell my Dad how he felt.
My Dad told me all the time he loved me.
And he also would hit me, because that is what he learned from his father as the best way to discipline his kids.
I know my Dad felt bad about it, and I have forgiven him.
I won't hit my kids, but I am sure that I pass on the pain and trauma to them.
This is all to say that no person is perfect, and we pass that on in ways we might know about and ways we don't.
Through all of it we forgive each other, and we try to do better.
That is the story of David and Israel.
Over and over again, God forgives and they try to do better, but the scares from the trauma live with them.

This is what happens with David.
His children carry this burden and it almost destroys all that God had given.
All the work David did, all the sacrifice.
If for not one thing.
God's love and assurance of the promise.
That is what keeps David going.
That is what keeps us going too.
Yes, we too have family trauma.
We have felt the burden of the sins of our parents, and our own sin.
But we can't say that all is lost, because God is pursuing us.
We can turn and face it, admit what is wrong, be forgiven, know we are loved.

The Bible doesn't smooth over the truth about our lives.
It is right here in the story we hear this morning.
We sin, we pass that on to our kids.
And the only way out of the cycle is facing our past, leaning on God's love and forgiveness.

In our lives let us remember what God has given us.
Let us remember God's forgiveness.
Let us reside in it, so that we can move forward knowing God's love for us.

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