Fake news in the garden of Eden

Homily 289 – 26th Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
December 3, 2017

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

St. Paul could have been writing to us today. I’m not one to watch the news, but you cannot have missed the convergence of so many things in the past several weeks.

Race, sex, gender, truth itself – all is questioned.

The difficult part for us as followers of Christ is that everything is so different from the world in the way we are taught to deal with everything.

When we hear of the actions of others, we can’t simply walk away. Nor can we just say something, pointing the finger.

The only person we have the ability to change is ourselves. So when we see these events, we have to do two things in my view.

First, examine ourselves. We don’t have to have done some of the outrageous things we hear about – but if we look closely, we have done something.

We deal with others inappropriately. We exploit others, we seek our gain and their loss.

Or maybe we didn’t actually do anything – but our thoughts could easily travel down that path.

We see someone of the opposite gender, and immediately evaluate them on our opinion of their appearance. Or we see and covet what someone else has.

Or we struggle with our own sense of missed opportunity, our own sense of well-being, and look to blame others for our distaste of the situation.

If we don’t care for the information we receive, we simply dismiss it as fake. And, lest we deceive ourselves, we’ve been doing this since long before our current president began saying “fake news.”

This goes all the way back to the Garden, folks.

Genesis 3 verse 3: God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

Only three verses later, after the serpent says his piece, the change is set into motion.

Genesis 3 verse 6: So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

They rejected God – the ultimate Truth, the creator of everything – and substituted their own judgement.

They called God, in essence, fake news.

The rich ruler in the Gospel lesson did the same. Sorry Jesus, fake news. I’m not buying that. “Sell everything” – sheesh. I worked hard for what I have!

At least the Gospel records he went away sad. Perhaps there was hope.

St. Paul offers us the remedy, if we truly choose to live our own life, by our own standards.

Discern what is well-pleasing to the Lord. Have no fellowship – that is no intimate association – with the vain works of darkness.

Don’t stumble blindly as a sleepwalker, or a zombie, but come to life, and to your senses. Decide what is important to you, and follow that.

Which leads to the second thing we must do.

We must decide to follow Christ.

But Father, we are here! We follow Christ! But do we really follow Christ? 24/7?

Because following Christ means that those around us, even our loved ones, will call us foolish and crazy. Why not get drunk and go on a bender on occasion? No harm, right?

Why not just waste some time in pursuit of pleasure? Moderation in all things, right?

That is what the Rich ruler was trying to solicit from Jesus – I’ve done enough, right? I can relax now, right?

No.

Walk as Children of light, and manifest the fruit of the Spirit: goodness – righteousness – Truth.

Following Christ is risky. We will be ridiculed. People will not understand us. And we cannot care about their opinion.

We can only love, and devote everything toward others.

As much as we’d like to rid the world of injustice, and greed, and exploitation, and prejudice. We can’t change the world without first changing ourselves.

So as you hear of the things going on in the world, look inward, and repent.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

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