Taking Responsibility

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Genesis 3:9-13

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

Then he said, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid, so I hid, because I was naked.”

And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?”

Then the man said, “The woman, whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate.”

And the Lord God said to the women, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”

Adam’s second sin, following the original, was the sin of irresponsibility. In fact, Adam was so irresponsible that he actually blamed God for his sin. Did you catch that? He first pointed the finger at Eve and then at God, saying, “the woman that you gave me.”

Really Adam? You threw Eve under the bus and then blamed God for the whole mess? Does this remind you of anyone you know? The fact is that this glaring flaw in Adam, like sin itself, has become intrinsic to human nature. It is the single most important issue for discipleship in the church and thus, the major issue for all of us in the community of Christ and the wider community in general. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the situation is getting worse, not better.

In any community there has to be rules of behavior. Without them, things begin to fall apart rather quickly. There are thousands of illustrations of this principle, in the Bible, in history, in life and in literature. One such example comes to mind in the novel, “Lord of The Flies”, by William Golding. If you’ve never read this book, I thoroughly recommend it to you. But among the rules that make a community function well is the rule of responsibility.

Be Responsible: Take responsibility for your words, your actions, and your thoughts, they all have an impact, positive, or negative upon the community in which you live, work, worship and play. Be responsible in the words you choose. If you said it, own it. Speak words that build up and heal rather than words that tear down and injure.

The Bible has much to say about our words, advising that we should let them be few and that our “yes” should mean yes and our “no” should mean no. The reason is that, in the image of God, He gave us the power to create the nature of the world around us, unfortunately, now, that power is exercised through the knowledge of good and evil. By our words, our actions, and our thoughts, we have the power to evoke the Kingdom of God as the nature of our community, or to make its nature as the Kingdoms of This World. If something you’ve said has hurt someone, or caused derision among us, then you need to own it and take action to correct those things. Remember that what you speak cannot be recalled, but, in God’s image, it can be forgiven and forgotten.

Further, in being responsible, take responsibility for your actions. If you got it out, you put it away, if you broke it, you fix it, if it’s your duty, you see that it’s done. Don’t be slothful. In every relationship, carry your part of the load, remembering, that Jesus calls you to more than just that. (ref. Matt. 5:38-42)

It’s really a simple matter to render the Kingdom of God out of the chaos of this world, but to do so requires us to do battle with our worst and most powerful enemy, that is, SELF. You see, we are our own worst enemy. We make the title, “Sleeping With The Enemy”, a true statement. Jesus said, “…and love your neighbor as yourself.” I wonder if you’ve ever thought seriously about that command and all that it entails. Certainly it involves the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” (ref. Luke 6:31) But Jesus’ full meaning goes much deeper, going as far as to say that we are to put our neighbor before ourselves, to act unselfishly toward our neighbors, as our Lord acted unselfishly in all that He did.

When the Pharisees challenged him asking, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the parable of the good Samaritan. (ref. Luke 10:29-37) Notice that Jesus made the hero of the story a Samaritan, not the religious pharisee, who despised the Samaritan as unorthodox and a sinner. There is great significance for the church today, in His choice of heroes. How about you? Are you a self righteous pharisee, who prays standing, thanking God that you are not like those sinners you see around you? (ref. Luke 18:10-14). Or do you live your faith in action each day, humbling yourself before God in the knowledge that you are no better than the lost world that surrounds you.

Finally, be responsible for your thoughts. It is said that, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” If you take that proverb, as I do, to mean that ideas, well communicated, are the force that wields the sword, then you see the importance of controlling your thoughts. Joseph Stalin said, “Ideas are more dangerous than guns. We wouldn’t let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?”

Stalin recognized that, throughout history, indeed his own history, ideas have been the force that drives change in this world for either good or evil, change that is only brought about by sacrifice, violence and death. Hundreds of millions have died for the evil thoughts that consume men’s minds. In fact, when you think about it, the whole story is about poor thinking. It begins in the Garden, when Satan tempted Adam and Eve to think for themselves, to think of themselves. That self awareness led to covetousness and distrust which, in turn, led to disobedience and disobedience to the sad history that leads to men such as Joseph Stalin, men who lead whole nations to murder millions.

The Bible tells us to, “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” (2Cor. 10:5b), because no one understands the importance of responsibly in filtering our thoughts than Christ himself, who has suffered greatly for our sin. Our thoughts lead to our ideas and ideas to words and words to action. These things are intrinsically connected in a positive, or negative feedback loop, a loop that can lead worlds to wickedness and death, or to life, with peace, hope love and joy. Our choice, our responsibility.

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About B. James Wilson

Author, Artist, Teacher, Apparent Illusion...
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