Crossed wires 1 John5:9-13 Easter 7
Have you ever been talking on the telephone to a friend when all of a sudden, someone else is speaking over you and then you are cut off? This is known as ‘crossed wires’; when a good line of communication is suddenly broken by a fault. With the help of Bill, our phone expert, I have traced the source of our crossed wires and have taken some photos (show three slides).
You can see why it is inevitable that we get crossed wires when the lines are in such a mess; extra lines tacked on here there and everywhere. I’m sure it makes us want to just rip it all down and start again.
Crossed wires that break down our connection with each other, don’t just happen over the phone line, crossed wires also happen in personal relationships; between family members, between friends, and also between church members, resulting in isolation, disharmony, hurt and anxiety. A crossed wire brings a sudden and sharp separation.
It all starts with one wrongly chosen word, a hurtful action against us, a lie, a knee jerk reaction, even an honest word of truth that was mistaken for an attack upon the other’s character. What was once a loving relationship, a crossed wire turns into a breakdown. For you, the crossed wire may be between your husband or wife, or a brother or sister, a friend. All of us have experienced crossed wires in communicating with someone which ended in a sudden separation.
As people we usually react in one of two ways. We either become submissive and for the sake of keeping the relationship open, forfeit ourselves, and have our course in life chosen by the other person. We become what we think others picture as loveable. Or on the other hand, we become aggressive and live in fear, loss of control, guilt and become lonely and isolated from love. Whichever way we go, not only are we cut off from the person, we lose our own life as well. This is not how we were created to live as Jesus says ‘I have come that you may have life and joy to the fullest’.
Our relationship with someone can look like the wires all mixed up, as shown here, (slide). As one line of communication is crossed, another is connected, after a time that is crossed, so another is connected and so on and so on until the whole relationship is a mess and no one is talking with anyone. We don’t even know why we have a crossed wire and we can’t even put out finger on the source because it is hidden under years of ‘re-wiring’ which has left feelings of bitterness, resentment, anxiety and a sense of hopelessness.
Why? Because all other lines of communication are still in some way connected to the first crossed wire. The actual breakdown in the relationship has not been repaired, only by passed.
What we see and experience in our relationships, are a direct result of an original crossed wire and are a reflection of our broken connection with God. It happened when Adam and Eve trusted the word of the devil rather than the word of God; they crossed the wires from the truth to a lie, as Paul states ‘They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator– who is forever praised. Amen.’
That one choice broke the perfect relationship we had with God, and from that time on, every one of us have had no ability to connect with God by our own efforts. We are disconnected from his family, from eternal life and have no way of making a repair.
Genesis records ‘After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.’
So what do we do? We try and bypass the problem and attempt to connect using another line by pleasing God with our good deeds, but we fail there too, as our broken relationships show. Jesus says ‘everyone who sins is a slave to sin and a slave has no permanent place in the family.’ We try to repair one line onto another, only to find we have to continually build a new one to God as the old ones fail and all for nothing because as long as we are a slave to sin, we cannot be a child of God; cannot receive eternal life. The reading from 1 John enforces this ‘he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.’ Our connection to God looks like these wires (slide).
Now God didn’t just sit up there in heaven going, “hello, hello are you there.” If he had done that, we would never have a relationship with him; never be connected again. God took the initiative and acted in history. This is how God reconnected us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
He sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Paul says the same thing: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ While we were disconnected, God made us his children again by sending his Son to reconnect us.
He did not wait until we had untangled the mess in our lives and apologized, until we had repented, until we’d cleaned up our act, or until we could take some steps towards him. While we were still sinners, disconnected from God – Christ died for us. This is not a repair. This is a whole new way of connecting with God.
Jesus Christ is God shredding off all the old wires and making a new one-way only connection to him, and that connection is made by faith in Jesus, as John writes ‘Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life;’
Baptism, as we will witness this morning with Madalyn, begins the new one-way connection to God that brings life. It is where God comes to her (us) and joins her to himself and forgives her the original sin, that crossed wire, and gives her eternal life, as Jesus promised ‘whoever is baptised and believes will be saved’.
And at another time ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.’ In the same way as a new phone line connects separated people, baptism connects us to God; it is the conduit that delivers grace, eternal life, the Holy Spirit and faith. It delivers the testimony of Jesus that ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.’
That’s God’s assurance for each of us whenever we are despairing and troubled. Jesus has made you right with God through his dying for your sins; and by rising from death to guarantee your relationship with God will never be cut off.
What does this new connection with God do for our relationships with each other now? Cross Daman in Outsider said ‘I wish I had some way to make a bridge from man to man…man is all we’ve got’. Man is not all we have got. We have the power of God’s grace in Jesus to build bridges to each other. As we soak in God’s love for us in Jesus, his grace gets into our “wounded places” and “insecure places”. Healing happens. He brings us peace. Instead of feeling condemned about out past, we discover our place of refuge in God. With Jesus as our confidence, we can ask the Father for the Holy Spirit to keep working positive change in our lives. We can reconnect to those we are cut off from and offer the hand of reconciliation because we know we are forgiven.
We can forgive ourselves and we can forgive those who have hurt us. Sure, they may not respond, just as we can’t force someone to pick up the phone when we ring, but that’s OK because our life is not found in their acceptance of us, our real life is found in Christ who always accepts us. And when we have Christ we have life. Amen