Seeking Control? Or Loyalty to God?

Listen to the sermon Joel Russell-MacLean

Learning for Life: 9:30

Worship Service: 11:00 am

Bulletin: Bulletin September 22
Newsletter: September Newsletter

Scriptures: Hosea (select verses); Psalm 50; Matthew 9.10-13


Fullmetal Alchemist

Joel Russell-MacLean

God desires kindness and loving loyalty in human relationships, not duty bound people who believe God owes them. 

Now, my children have suggested that I ought to pay them when I’ve mercilessly inflicted such cruelty as dish washing, lawn mowing, or vacuuming. Now, I’ve always loved this idea. Sure, let’s put a dollar value on everything you provide – and I’ll do the same! Food, rent, utilities, driving, clothing, my chores around home, internet and so on… Then each month we can add up what you are owed, and I’ll add up what I am owed, and we can just see who pays whom.

They have never taken me up on this offer.

The truth is however, the thing I desire of my children is not really help with chores nor perfect behaviour. With my sons and my daughter, I don’t want a relationship defined by a list of rules and tasks and rewards and consequences.

As a Father, the thing I desire is love.

It is interesting to consider that a checklist does have an appeal: if I do this, and this, and this, then I’ve done my duty, right? Then this person can say, “I’ve done my part, now you provide what I’m owed.” In this sense, idolatry can therefore be understood as any attempt to replace our Creator, a being who has a will and purpose, with a system that can be manipulated.

For people born of the scientific age, it is tempting to think that all aspects of life – and death – can be controlled and manipulated. For others, magic and rituals are used to control the unseen forces that direct events and nature.

As for us, with Hosea, “we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands.”

We will not exchange the glory of knowing God for the shame of holding material things

Teyve from “Fiddler on the Roof” captures our longing for loving relationships exactly when he hesitantly asks his wife in song, “Golde, do you love me?” Their duet covers all the things they “do” for each other. The husband keeps returning to the question underneath everything else, “but, do you love me?” (watch the duet here).


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