A certain man once embarked on a sea voyage around the world. Partway through his journey, he encountered a terrible storm. His vessel capsized and was ripped apart, but luckily he was able to swim to a small island. After a bit of exploration, he discovered that he was the only inhabitant of the island. He also discovered, though, that there was sufficient animal life and vegetation on the island to support his life. So, in true Gilligan’s Island fashion, he built a new life for himself on that island.
Ten years passed. One day, the man was stunned to see a ship approaching the island: He was being rescued! Before long, a team of rescuers strolled onto the island, and the shipwrecked man met them on the beach.
They said: “We are here to rescue you and the others.”
The man declared, “That’s fantastic! …but there are no ‘others.’ I am the only inhabitant of this island.”
The rescuers looked confused. They said, “Sir, just ahead of us we see, not one, but three buildings. How is it that you live on this island all alone, yet have constructed three different buildings?”
The man said, “I will explain. The first building? That is my home. That’s where I eat and sleep. The second building? That is my church. That’s where I pray and worship.”
He paused. The rescuers prompted him: “Well, then, what is the third building?”
The man replied, “Oh, that’s the church I used to attend, until I got mad at ’em and moved my membership…” (pause)
This morning I am going to talk about the things that cause us to have stumbling blocks. We often call these stumbling blocks – Obstacles to Grace. They are “barriers to a relationship with God”. We can say obstacles to grace are what the Bible refers to as sin. I am sure we all have an idea what sin is. From early childhood most of us were taught that sin is “all the bad things we do.” Sin is what separates us from fellowship with God, causes us to break fellowship with our neighbor and makes us forget that we are all born sinners.
The Bible shows us that “Sin is pretending that we are the center of the universe.”
Wanting to take God’s place at the center of the universe was the basic temptation of Satan that led our Fore parents Adam and Eve into sin in the beginning. Satan told Eve in Genesis 3:4, “For God know that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” and from that time on each of us has “wanted to be like God.” Sin – pretending that we are the center of the universe. Instead of being God-centered, we are self-centered. You and I both have been there, and perhaps, continue to battle that temptation even now.
The New Testament word for sin is an archery term that means “to miss the mark or target.” Sin is any obstacle that causes us to miss the target of God’s will for our lives, anything that would separate us from loving God and our neighbor as commanded by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’’
There are two primary types of obstacles to grace: those that hinder our relationship with God and those that hinder our relationships with other people. We were created to enjoy both of these relationships.
This morning we will focus our attention on the sins that cause a break with our neighbor.(page 1 of 4)