The Missing Peace 03: When Love Wins

This is what my soul is telling me: be peaceful and love everyone.”
– Malala Yousafzai As everyone in the Roman world knew well, the cross already had a clear symbolic meaning; it meant that Caesar ruled the world, with cruel death as his ultimate, and regular, weapon.
– P. Achtimier For Paul, throughout his writings, the cross is far more than simply the means whereby individual sins are forgiven, though of course it is that as well. It is the means whereby hate, violence – the powers and principalities – are finally defeated through love.
– P. Achtimier Just do right. Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul. It brings you the kind of protection that bodyguards can’t give you. So try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity.
– Maya Angelou Take up the battle. Take it up. It’s yours. This is your life. This is your world.
– Maya Angelou Jesus is Lord. Do you have any idea how subversive this was in Rome?! It would be heard like this: Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. And if we can recover the original meaning of the ultimate Christian confession, it will once again be deeply subversive.
– B. Zahnd Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
– Hamilton Mable Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
– Jesus Jesus is Lord.
– Paul – (laughs at clip from The Office)
And we all said, no. (laughs) Have you ever had a boss like this? Yeah. Have you ever had a
family member like this? Have you ever had a person in
your friend group like this? For me, my bad boss was Darrell. Not Darrell Winger, the senior pastor, my boss presently at the church, ’cause I’d like to keep my job. But it was back after my
first year of university, and if you’re a university
student or a college student, you know how difficult
it can be to find a job in that inter-testamental
period between a semester and when you go back
to school in the fall. The summer period if sometimes
a bit of a crap shoot in terms of what’s available
in those short four months. So that was me. After my first year of university, I was looking and looking and looking, finding nothing except
for jobs at, you know, fast food restaurants, and
even then, it was difficult. But my dad was like, “Listen,
you have to find a job. “You have to save up some money. “I’m gonna put out some feelers “and see if I can find some connections,” and he found one, which was Darrell. Now, Darrell owned a
steam cleaning company that steam cleaned carpets in
very dilapidated, sometimes, houses that were going to be condemned or were going to be flipped
or turned into duplexes for university residences, and so he would clean carpets
and also clean out the ducts, and there were three roles and three people in the
company, myself being the third. I got hired and he was like, “Listen, if you’re gonna
make it in this company, “if you’re gonna succeed in this company, “you need to do what you’re
told and do it well.” And I was like, “Hey, you’re
paying me $6.40 an hour. “How could this go wrong?” So I was in charge of the tank. There’s three positions in the company. There’s the tank, the wand, and the van. The tank, the wand, and the van. And so I was downstairs with the tank. Now, if you’ve ever steam-cleaned carpets or worked for a company that does so, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The tank is the machine in the basement, and so this huge machine
would be in the basement, and out from it, so you
plug the water into it, and it would filter the water, send it up these tubes into the rooms or the apartments that were
having the carpets cleaned or the ducts cleaned out, and then it was attached to the wand, and the wand was what made
those clean and crispy lines in the carpet, or attached to the ducts to purify the system. Now, what would happen is I would hook up the machine to the
water, and then press go, and it would shoot the
natural spring water up into the apartment or the space that was being cleaned, and then it would return to me
looking like chocolate milk. The Greek word is (gags). (audience laughs) And so I would, you know, my
job was to press on and wait, and then there’d be a ding
and the water would come back, and then I would press off, and then I would open
this cavernous monster and I would dump it into the sink, getting all of this soiled water onto me, from who knows where, and
together, we all said (gags). So that was my job,
and I remember one day, Darrell, bad boss Darrell,
not Meeting House Darrell, came down into the basement, and was like, “You think you have it rough? “You have no idea, “and if you ever wanna
succeed in this company, “you gotta take your lumps and
do good at what you’re doing, “otherwise you’ll never
move up to the wand,” and I was like, “Anything,
anything is better “than this God-forsaken tank
that leaves with clean water, “comes back with chocolate milk.” And so eventually, my
friends, the day came where Darryl was like,
“I think you’re ready.” (audience laughs) “I think you’re ready for the wand,” and I was ready for the wand. And so I go up into the
apartment that we were cleaning, the first day. I’m like, “look at this thing” “This looks like a big machine
gun that cleans carpets,” and so, doing the wand and
thinking, “I’m moving up. “This is great. “What a great summer job, “and there’s another
Jimmy down in the basement “that I don’t have to deal with, “that’s processing the chocolate milk.” So the day came where Darrell came in, bad Darrell, not good Darrell, who came and checked my lines. He was like, “No, those lines
need to be crispy clean lines, “otherwise you’re never gonna
move up in this company, “to the van.” Now, the van was where Darrell lived. Bad Darrell, not good Darrell
at the Meeting House Darrell. The van was the vehicle that
Darrell, bad Darrell, drove to take orders, and that
stored the machine itself, and so the keys to the van
were the keys of power. So eventually, I’m doing
my nice crispy lines and thinking, “I’m moving
on up, I’m moving on up,” and eventually, Darrell,
with the power vested in him from the steam cleaning
gods of the universe, said, “The day has come,”
and he handed me the keys to the van that really never
started, and sort of chugged and belched fumes out into the atmosphere, and had, you know, residual
carpet funk all over it. It really wasn’t a great
promotion for $6.40 an hour, but then came the time in
the summer where I was like, “Okay, I’ve moved from
tank to wand to van. “The time has come for me to
wrap up my ministry to carpets “and to go back to university.” And so I went unto Darrell
and I’m like, “Hey, brother. “Thank you for all of the
wonderful things that I’ve learned “this summer, about how
to steam clean carpets. “I’ve never actually vacuumed my own room, “so this has bene helpful,
but I need to quit, “’cause I’m going back to
university, like you do.” And he was furious with me. “What do you mean, you’re
going to go back to university? “Do you know how much time “and energy I’ve invested into you? “You moved your way all up to the van, “and you mean to tell
me that you’re quitting? “You’re not staying with the company?” I was like, “Absolutely, yes, absolutely “that is what you’re
experiencing here today.” Have you ever had boss, have you ever had a bad Darrell boss? Bad Darrell, not good Darrell
here at the Meeting House. I need to say that clearly. Have you ever worked in an
environment that is toxic? Where the hierarchical structure
has production in mind, and not people? Have you ever found
yourself in a family dynamic or a friend group that
is bent on politicism, coercion, manipulation? Toxicity rather than
other-centredness, love, and peace? I see a lot of nodding heads. We’re in part three of our
series, The Missing Peace, and so we’re walking
through Romans chapter 12 as sort of the litmus
test, the explanation of the Sermon on the Mount, which is really what Paul is doing, when he’s writing this letter. So by way of just review, in case this is your first
Sunday here, welcome, or you just haven’t quite
caught up to the teaching, week one, we talked about how
the tendency in the church has been to go to Romans
13 to provide the mandate for why it’s okay sometimes to pick arms to create violence in the name of love, and what we learned from
week one was, well, no. Actually, God is just, God is judge. Romans 12 provides the
ethic of who we are, which is people who are humble,
and so that was week two. Last week, Bruxy talked
about illusiory superiority and how we need to think of
ourselves with sober minds, with humility, that vengeance is God’s, justice is God’s, that humility is our mantra, and that today, love is our ethic. Love is the way to peace. Love is the way to peace,
and we’re gonna be focusing on verses nine to 11 in Romans chapter 12. Everybody, take out your Bibles right now. If you have one, take it
out, or on your phone, or if you weren’t able to bring one, you can look on with somebody next to you, or flag down one of our ushers, and they would be happy
to hand one of those along down the aisle. Don’t be shy. Now, we’re gonna go to the book of Romans, and if you, you know, this
is your first time to church, or you’re not super
familiar with the Bible, if you sort of go to
the middle of the Bible and then turn right and go
six books in, six books in. So Matthew, Mark, Luke,
John, Acts, and then Romans, that’s the book that we’re gonna be in, and then go all the way to the number 12, all the way to the number 12. While you’re doing that,
I’ll mention a few things by way of announcements. Christmas Eve is fast approaching, and so you’ll hear actually
in one of our takeouts that this is a great opportunity for us to fully embody our vision, which is to invite
spiritually-curious people into the message of Jesus
and the way of Jesus through communities like this one, and so, across all of our
sites here in Oakville, it’s Christmas Eve, but
some of our other sites are having different gatherings,
collaborative gatherings. Some are on Christmas Eve eve, so talk to your lead pastor about that, or take a look in your programs
and make plans to be there. Such a great thing, to be
together as a larger community, celebrating how God is
at work in our community, and being reminded of the
Incarnation of Christ, God made flesh, God made peace. So excited about that. The second thing that I’ll mention, that you’ll be hearing more
from your last pastors about across all of our sites is J-term, and so we’re trying
something new this year in the context of our home churches. And so if this is your first time here, we have weekly gatherings
of smaller groups of people that meet in homes to
talk about the teaching, and so you’re welcome and invited always to take part in that, but in January, we’re trying out our J-term,
which a different expression of how we’ll do home church, and so if you have questions about that, across all of our sites, talk
to your lead pastor about that or here in Oakville, talk to one of our Oakville pastors. So that’s exciting. And then finally, I’ll
mention that today, again, part three of our series, Missing Peace, but this is part of the larger narrative of who we are and how we function as a wider church community, and so while we’re in this series today and for the next few weeks,
in February or March, we circle back around to
our Peacemakers campaign, which is the tangible, how
do we invest money, time, and resources into serving
the poorest of the poor and partnering with
local and global partners to alleviate suffering and
to espouse human dignity? And so, isn’t it a gift
to be a part of a church that talks about it,
but then also does it? Yes, so that’s coming up in February, so stay tuned for that. All right, let’s jump
in to Romans chapter 12. I’m gonna read through the entire section, so starting from verse one, we’re gonna go all the way to verse 11, but we’re gonna pay particular attention to verses nine to 11. So Romans chapter 12. “Therefore, I urge you,
brothers and sisters, “in view of God’s mercy, “to offer your bodies
as a living sacrifice, “holy and pleasing to God, “and this is your true and proper worship. “Do not conform to the
pattern of this world, “but be transformed by
the renewing of your mind. “Then you’ll be able to test and approve “what God’s will is, his good,
pleasing, and perfect will. “For by the grace given me
I say to every one of you: “Do not think of yourself
more highly than you ought, “but rather think of
yourself with sober judgment, “in accordance with the
faith God has distributed,” has given, “to each of you. “For just as each of us has
one body with many members, “and these members do not
all have the same function, “so in Christ we, though
many, form one body, “and each member belongs
to all the others. “We have different gifts, “according to the grace
given to each of us. “If your gift is prophesying, “then prophesy in
accordance with your faith; “if it’s serving, then serve;
if it’s teaching, then teach; “it it’s to encourage,
then give encouragement; “if it’s giving, then give generously; “if it’s to lead, do it diligently; “and if it’s to show
mercy, do it cheerfully.” And then our focal point here today. “But love must be sincere.” Your love must be sincere. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. “Be devoted to one another in love. “Honour one another above yourselves. “Never be lacking in zeal, but
keep your spiritual fervor,” or energy, or passion, “serving the Lord.” One more time, “Love must be sincere. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. “Be devoted to one another in love. “Honour one another above yourselves. “Never be lacking in zeal, “but keep your spiritual fervor,
passion, serving the Lord.” Now, what we’re reading when
we read a book like Romans is we’re essentially getting a
sneaky view into Paul’s mail. So Paul is writing a letter
to a group of believers gathered in a particular place
and a particular context, and within a particular structure, and so we’re reading in
on what Paul is writing to these people, to give
instruction and encouragement to move them towards each other in the way of love and peace that is Jesus. Now, in the context of Paul himself, and Bruxy touched on this last week, Paul is a former religious terrorist. He was from the Pharisaical tradition, which upheld the law with
utmost respect and zeal, even to the point of
persecuting the church, this new movement of the
way of these new Christians, even to the point of persecuting them and putting them to death. This was Paul’s mantra. This was the mission
that Paul had taken up when he was known as Saul, and then he has an encounter
with the risen Jesus, and it’s interesting, if you’re familiar with the story in Acts, what Jesus says to instruct
Paul is not a, “Oh yeah? “You think your weapons are strong? “Watch this.” And He doesn’t ride in on a horse and punch Paul in the face,
or anything like that. Instead, the compassionate
Jesus meets Paul with language like this. “Paul, Paul,” Saul, at the
time, “Why are you doing this? “Why are you persecuting me?” And Paul has a change,
Saul has a change of heart, and is embraced by the church, mostly, and starts to write letters
about what he’s learning, about how this all makes sense, about how the mystery of
God has now been unveiled, realized in Jesus, and so he’s writing the
letters to instruct, to pastorally shepherd, to care for, and to continue to
encourage and inspire people to embrace and embody the way
of Jesus, just like he has. Now, the church, this letter
that goes to the church in Rome is no exception. Paul has actually never
met the church in Rome, so in many, if you read any
of the pastoral letters, Paul writing to different
bodies of believers, he’s met lots of them, he’s
been to their churches, he’s traveled around. In this context, he actually hasn’t, and so the purpose for him writing the letter to
the Romans is twofold: one, he wants to raise
money to give to the poor. He’s caught up with and
emboldened to the mission of Jesus to take the Gospel, to take
the Good News of compassion, of love, out to the farthest
reaches of the world, and he wants to go to Spain
and then back to Jerusalem, so he’s saying, “Give,
give, this means something. “We’re part of something together.” And then to encourage them as well, to say, “How are you doing? “How are you living this out? “‘Cause it means nothing if our faith “only exists in the realm
of the philosophical, “and never the practical.” And so that’s the impetus for us, as we learn together here,
thousands of years later, looking in on this mail,
saying it does us no good to just exist in the
philosophical and theoretical. How do we practically embody this? What does it mean to
exist in the way of love that moves us towards peacemaking as a gathered body of believers? Now, if we zoom out a little bit, that’s sort of like the
zoom in on Paul himself, his experience, and who he’s writing to, and if we zoom out a little bit, who does the book, who is the letter written to? What is the book called? Romans. Right, Romans. So it’s a particular letter written to a particular group of people in a very particular context, and this context is ancient Rome. And so living in Rome, if
you were a new believer, you were facing heat. So the context of Rome itself,
Rome was led by emperors, and so the emperors
eventually, through civil war and fighting, conquered a
small portion of geography, and then their mission
was to continue to expand and expand and expand,
that people would know that Rome is the supreme
force on planet Earth, and it would continue to
conquer, and continue to conquer. Now, the Caesars who led the
charge considered themselves to be divine, considered
themselves to be god. Stemming from Julius Caesar, and then certainly into Octavian,
later known as Augustus. Augustus called himself the Son of God, and called the announcement
of his divinity the good news, the gospel of grace that is Caesar. He coined the phrase, there
is no other name under heaven nor earth by which man can
be saved, except Augustus. His military moved out and
had pockets of governance that would take over villages, and if you were in that village, you would be forced to embrace
the lordship of the Caesar. You would say Caesar is
Lord, Caesar is Lord, and if you said that, you
would be called the ecclesia, because you’ve affirmed
the lordship of Caesar. You’d be called the
ecclesia or the church, the called-out ones together. So in the context of Rome, you knew that it was
the military superpower that was taking over the world by force. You knew that the Caesars were the gods and espoused themselves
to be supremely divine, looking over the entire world, the spiritual leader and emperor, god made flesh on planet Earth. No other name under heaven nor earth, under which man can be saved,
except through the Caesars. Caesar is Lord, and Rome is his kingdom. Now the other thing is Rome
enforced peace through violence. Rome enforced peace through violence. And so you may have heard
the term Pax Romana. That’s what this means. It means peace in Rome through force. And so Rome moved out via
conquest to enforce a lifestyle with empire that should be mandated for every human being living. So you will live in Rome, you
will be conquered by Rome, you will live in peace in Rome, and not create any uprisings,
or we will kill you, and not just you, but your entire family. These are the people that
perfected crucifixion. The Persians had a cool trick, where they would kill people
via beheading and impaling, and the Romans were like, “Ah,
it’s not quite tough enough. “What if we try something
a little different “and we nail people to
crosses and we let them suffer “and die over a longer period of time?” Peace through Rome. So Pax Romana, peace vetted through
dominance and punishment. People, people were a commodity. They were divided into social classes with wide social gaps, so there were patricians and plebeians. The patricians were the
people who’d been inherited into the sovereign state,
sovereign identity of Rome. They were the elite, the upper class, the upper echelon of people,
who did whatever they wanted. And then there were the
plebeians, the poor people, who had some rights for sure,
but it was always relegated to the rights of the upper echelon
of society, the patricians. And then purpose, what
was the purpose of Rome? To be the governing
authority for the world with Caesar as Lord. Peace vetted through punishment, people divided into
classes, better and worse. Purpose, to be the governing
authority for the world with Caesar as Lord. And Paul writes in this context. In fact, the earliest Christian creed that is recorded in the New Testament happens in the book of
Romans, in chapter one, and it goes like this. And I would love for you
to repeat it with me. It goes like this: Jesus is Lord. Ready? – [Audience] Jesus is Lord. – This was the earliest Christian creed, and think about what that’s saying. It’s not arbitrary or thoughtless. This was a subversion of power. When you said Jesus is Lord, it meant that you are not affirming Caesar as the divine ruler of the world. You are affirming Jesus
as Lord, not Caesar. That Jesus is love,
not fear, not coercion, not moving out and dominating, but love, and that Jesus is peace, not
war, not violence, not hate. Jesus is Lord, Jesus is love,
and what does love look like? Love lifts others up. It works for peace, even
in the face of an enemy. Think about how crazy that is. Paul’s instruction to the Romans is, we know what you’re going through. Know that, likely, you
will all die for this, as will we all. Love your enemy. Embrace the teaching of Jesus,
the Sermon on the Mount, this thing that He gave us His life for, that we find life in. Love your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you. Embody the way of peace at all costs. Always be willing to die for your faith. Never be willing to kill. It’s a counter-cultural,
subversive movement that Paul is giving instruction to, encouraging these believers. Now, interestingly enough, do you know what the issue
with the Romans church was? There are some times in Paul’s
letters where he’s writing just to be like, “You guys
are doing great, so good, “keep it up, love what I’m hearing.” There’s other times
where he’s like, “Okay, “course correction a little bit. “You could be doing better here.” And there’s other times,
like the book of, you know, the Corinthian letters, where he’s like, “You guys are off your rockers. “Please stop. “You’re giving us a bad name.” And then there’s the book of Romans, which is giving
instruction, encouragement. Now, remember, he’s never met them before, but he is trying to encourage, he’s trying to shepherd them well. And what do you think the issue was? Widening social gaps within the church. Crazy. Even after everything
that they’ve been through, everything they’ve heard from Jesus, through this tradition
that’s been passed on, the story that’s been circulating, and now Paul’s letters that
have been passed around, he still has to encourage
these faithful believers to start treating each other better. Now, the Gentiles were
the body of believers that made up the largest
part of the church. So Gentile believers that
were, some were Greek, some were converting
from the imperial cult and embracing the way of Jesus. They made up the largest
body of believers, the largest populace in this church. And then the minority
was actually the Jews, these Jewish converts, and so the Gentiles, being
the larger in numbers, were looking at the Jews
and saying, “You morons, “you couldn’t even get this right.” Like, “We’re in charge
now, we’re in charge now,” and the Jews are looking back and saying, “What are you talking about? “You wouldn’t even
understand the way of Jesus “unless we had provided
the heritage for you. “We are the people of blessing.” And so, people became commodities
again and again and again, moving farther and farther
apart, Gentile and Jew, and Paul writes to instruct them, “Brothers and sisters, look
back towards each other. “Where is your sense of mutuality? “Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice. “This is your worship,
this is your worship, “that is holy and pleasing to God. “Offer yourselves, honour each other, really love each other. “Serve each other. “Each of you have phenomenal gifts “that could serve the church
and benefit this movement, “and propel the movement of peace, “but you have to learn to work together. “You are one body, made up of many parts, “and all of those things are equal, “so if your gift is this
or that or this or that, “do it with spiritual fervor. “Do it to the best of your ability, “collaborating with each other “and embracing this community hermeneutic, “the community working
together, a level playing field. “Not people as commodity, “but people working
together in compassion.” So this was the mantra
of the early church. Jesus is love, Jesus is Lord. The way of Jesus is peace. How are you doing? You notice, too, that Paul doesn’t use
religious violence, either. He could have defaulted
back to his base setting, as a religious zealot, as a Pharisee, as a persecutor before, and say, “I’m gonna come with a fist, “just like you’re used to in Rome. “I’m gonna show you some tough love, “and you’re gonna get it or else.” Instead, he’s like, “Brothers
and sisters, family together.” He gives them a family identity,
saying this is not the way. It’s not the way. You have to see each other,
you have to work together, you have to honour each other. You have to actually love each other, and your love needs to be
sincere, genuine, authentic. Work on that first, work on that first, and see where that takes
you down the road of peace. Now, in our context today,
you would think that after, you know, thousands of years
of this Christian tradition, of the way up is down, of
the way to lead is to serve, of the way to love is to
embody compassion and peace, you would think that we
would have this mostly right, but sadly, that’s not the story, by and large, of the church. It’s certainly not the way
the church is caricaturized in culture today, right? The fastest-growing
demographic in the world today, in Canada and the U.S
in particular, is nones, is religious nones, people who have no religious
affiliation whatsoever, who would check the box, nope, nothing. And then the second-largest
would be dones, people who are like, “I
did that, it was awful. “It was no different than
the life I have at work. “You know, my bad boss
Darrell is the same bad boss “in, you know, my home
church or my church context. “Nothing is different.” We have not gotten this right. And so the message of Paul’s
writing is instruction, certainly for them,
for the context of Rome and this early church,
but also for us today. How are we moving towards each
other, then moving together towards the love ethic of peace? I remember my first church. I was, you know, resigned
from cleaning carpets and finished my university degree, and then I got a job as a youth pastor, and in that time zone,
I came back to faith, and I was full of that spiritual zeal and fervor and passion. It was like, “Oh, this
has made it inside of me, “and I’m excited and I wanna learn more,” and so I was reading my Bible and just soaking up any
speaker or content or book that I could, and I was excited
about, this is God’s grace, in resurrected form, in Jesus. We are the body of Christ moving the way of compassion
and peace forward. Isn’t it amazing to be part
of a church that gets it? And so, in the church
that I was a part of, we had this conference
that we ran for a week, and we would invite speakers in, and I heard this one speaker was coming and I was so excited, because I’d heard sound bites about him. I was like, “This guy
just shuts the lights out. “Such a good communicator,
I can’t wait to hear him.” And so there were a few
of us that had gathered to listen to him, and he
started off his sermon in much the way that I’ve just described, full of vision, and then
he ended his sermon, like a three-point sermon in the most diseased,
corrupt way possible. His last point was, here’s
who you should vote for today, in the political realm,
and if you don’t vote for that person, know that the other side, the other team, is likely
possessed by the devil. Bananas. Like, what are you talking about? In a conference that’s
oriented towards mission, and a movement that’s oriented
towards not being political, but being the Kingdom of God moving out with compassion and peace, that’s how you choose to
encourage, envision people in this mission week? So there were a few of us that left very disenfranchised that day, and maybe that’s been your
experience at church in your past or maybe you have no
experience with church, but you’ve heard those stories before. And so we wanna be encouraged as a body of believers together, as a body of believers
together, there is a better way, and we need to continually be reminded to embrace mutuality,
other-centredness, enemy love. Love is our ethic, and our way is peace. This will continue to move us forward. Not empire, not empty religion, not ritual for ritual’s sake, but a leaning towards each other, knowing that we’re led by Jesus, that Jesus is Lord, that
His Lordship is love, and that His way, His
methodology, is peace. Jesus is Lord, Jesus is
love, and His way is peace. When Paul writes to the Romans,
he doesn’t use politics, power, coercion, threat of violence, but he encourages, shepherds,
cares for these believers with the notion of mutuality, just like he encourages us today. Mutuality, genuine affection,
and love for each other, and then peace, no matter the cost. Peace, no matter the cost. I wanna move us towards our
take out, but very quickly, I wanna throw it open to Q & Eh, so if you have a question,
you can text it in, or we have some mic runners who are coming through
the aisles right now. We have maybe time for
one or two questions, so don’t be shy. Stick your hand up while
we’re waiting for that. If there are any text
questions that have come in, I’m happy to check in on that. No, great. Okay, any questions out there? Otherwise, we can totally move on and you can ask questions
over, yes, I see a hand here. – [Marilyn] Hi there, this is Marilyn. – Hi. – [Marilyn] I just want to check. You have in your notes here about WDJD. I’ve heard of WWJD, so I
was wasn’t too sure about– – Yeah. – [Marilyn] what this acronym is. – So if you grew up in
the church in the ’90s and you wore those colorful
wristbands (laughs), WWJD is what would Jesus do, and then WDJD is what did Jesus do. What would Jesus do, and
then what did Jesus do? How did He exemplify the
notion of enemy love, other-centredness, compassion, even to the point of death and suffering? So yeah, thanks for that question. Good clarity. Maybe I should have written that in there. All right. I wanna spend a good amount
of time on our take out here, love, actually. So three verses in particular,
I wanna read them again, just so that they’re crystal
clear, verses nine to 11. So then love must be, in light of everything that we’ve heard, in light of everything
you’re going through in the context of Rome,
with the system of power, “Love must be sincere. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. “Be devoted to one another in love. “Honour one another above yourselves. “Never be lacking in zeal and passion, “but keep your spiritual
fervor, serving the Lord.” So verse nine, “Love must be sincere.” Step one. How are we embodying a
genuine love for each other? That we exist in our homes
and our workplaces with, and even a genuine love for those that maybe we consider like
the bad Darrell bosses, or the toxic environment
that you find yourself in, whether it be at work,
at home, or at play? How do we embody an
other-centred mentality of love that sees everybody as
a brother or a sister, that sees everybody as infinitely valuable as image-bearers of God. “Love must be sincere.” Verse 10. So what’s wrong, then? “Hate what is evil.” So Paul is writing and saying resist, get rid of what is evil. Hate it, have no part of it. And what, in this context, and
even in our context, is evil? The idea and ethic of empire. A force that creates a
worse version of ourselves, that looks less like Jesus. The idea of empire, the ruling way by force
and coercion and violence. And maybe you’re sitting
here today and you’re like, “Like, who? “What do you mean? “We don’t have emperor,
we don’t have a Caesar. “We have a prime minister. “The U.S. has a president. “What do you mean?” Well, maybe for you, empire
is like that sweatshirt that you want to buy next, or the multiple pairs
of shoes that you own, or the car that you’ve been
lusting after for a while. Is this the best version of you? Is this what God is calling you to? Maybe hating what is evil means letting go of the consumption-based Western ideal, that is to get more, accumulate more, and have safe passage through life. Maybe God is calling
you to something better, and that’s the resistance that
you need to show to empire to say, “Actually, no,
I’m going to reject that “for something that is better.” What else is wrong? In verse 10, Paul talks
about individuality, the focus on self. Individuality and self-preservation. I am the most important
person, no matter what. Me first, and then everybody
else a distant second. Do you have a boss like this? Do you have somebody in your friend group who exemplifies this toxicity? Are you this person who, for a long time, you’ve been putting yourself first? And this is that nudge,
that spiritual voice in you that’s like, “No, there’s a better way.” Look for others, not yourself. But others on the same level as you are. So what’s wrong? The idea of ethic and empire. Wrong, individuality
and self preservation. What’s good? Verse 10, “Cling to what is good. “Cling to what is good.” What’s good? Well, then, what is good is
humility and active peacemaking. Humility and active peacemaking. What is good? Good is embracing a love
ethic that chips away at empire, selfishness, and ego, that persistently,
consistently is a discipline, lays that down for
something that is better. And ecclesia, a movement
of people, called-out ones, that consistently see the other first. Not empire, not power, not
a lust for more things, but people, people first. The way of compassion, of seeing others, of entering into each other’s story. So verse 10. “Hate what is evil;
cling to what is good.” And verse 11, how to do it. “Keep your spiritual fervor or passion.” Keep your passion alive
in serving the Lord. Work towards unity. Strive for a love that is genuine. Honour one another. Do the hard work that is pleasing to God: including more people
in the actual Good news, linking together with
others that will help you embody the way of peace,
with the Spirit’s help, with the Spirit’s help. And maybe, for you, that’s been on your mind for a while. You’re like, “Yeah,
actually, I really want, “I have this friend group,
and we’re trying to reconcile “this issue that we’ve had,” and so for you, it’s not
necessarily relationship. For you, it’s like the way
that you orient your life. You’re waking up, going
to bed, buying coffee, wearing a pair of jeans. Day-to-day life, maybe
that is the way that God is instructing you towards what is better. Do you wanna hear a crazy story about the clearest I’ve
ever heard the voice of God? So we believe in our tradition that God speaks through His Spirit, and not just through a paid professional holy man or a woman, that God speaks through
a multitude of voices, through multiple people,
leaned in together, serving together, and so there was this one time
I was walking down a street and I had a can of Diet
Coke, and save your judgment. The story gets better. But I drank the drink and
then I crumpled up the can and I threw it on the ground. I know, right? And I remember thinking, do you ever go through this process of making yourself feel better
and giving yourself permission? Well, I mean, there are people
that, like street cleaners, if I didn’t do that,
they wouldn’t have a job. (audience laughs)
And you know, da da da. And you make this
accessible or permissible. So I crumpled the can
and thought I was doing my due diligence to
help the street cleaner, wherever he or she may be, and I literally heard the
voice of God saying, “Stop. “Go back and pick that up.” The same God that cares
for our relationships cares for our environment,
cares for the world, and intends that we leave the place better than when we came into it. And so I went back, kind of grumbly, and then picked it up, and I was like, “Oh, actually, this right
now is my act of worship.” Recycle. So maybe for you, it’s
something like that. What is the thing that
God is saying to you, “Actually, you need to pause,
go back, and pick that up.” Maybe it was an unkind word that you said to your spouse this morning. Maybe it was a decision at
work that you made this week that you know would negatively
impact another human being, and God is saying,
“Stop, brother or sister. “Go back and pick that up,
go back and pick that up.” Honour one another. Cling to what is good. Follow the ethic of love,
and a way of peacemaking. Know that Jesus is Lord. Not work, not accumulation,
not even religion. Jesus is Lord. That Jesus is love. Not power, coercion,
manipulation, politicism. Jesus is love, fully loving, loves you. And that Jesus’ way is peace. Not coercion, manipulation,
violence, hate, but peace. Following Jesus will lead you towards a more peace-oriented life. It might not mean more inner
or outer peace right away, but it will take you down
the road of that journey. Are you up for it? Are you up for it? Yes. I wanna move us to our homework here. So number one, you’ll be seeing once it’s
up on the screen here. Home Church Hangout Video. So this is something
new that we’re trying. If you’re part of a home church, you’ll be watching this video about how to learn how to love your family well, in a disciplined fashion, honouring your family well this season. And so if you wanna know what
that homework question is, you have to be in home church this week. Let’s skip it. Number two. Who needs you to use the power of love to confront injustice? Who are the people that you
know that need you to stand up, using the power of love,
to confront injustice, abuse of power, harassment, and bullying? Love provides the way for reconciliation. Do you notice that, by and large, we’re very vocal on Twitter, we can be very vocal on Instagram, but we have a bystander culture, where, by and large, very
few people are standing up to say, “No, no, no,
I’m taking up the plight “of the marginalized. “I’m taking up the plight,
the mission of the poor. “No, no, no, I’m not
gonna stand for this.” Instead, we get dulled
into Instagram likes and Twitter wars, and what’s on the news, and you know, what’s the
new thing on TV today? God is calling us to take up
the plight of the marginalized, of the poor, of those that
are being bullied, harassed, of those widening social gaps. We are the bridge, we
are the body of Christ pulling people back towards each other. And so this week, who do you
need to stand up for using love to be a voice, an opportunity
for reconciliation? Number three. Spend your money this Christmas to support peace, not empire. Spend your money this Christmas to support peace, not empire. Don’t you find it fascinating,
and maybe somewhat nauseating that we celebrate in December
the Incarnation of Christ, God among us, God with us, made flesh, the Prince of Peace arriving on earth, and yet, that has been co-opted
by a fat, bearded white dude who’s saying, “Get more stuff. “Ask for more stuff. “Get more stuff. “Ask for more stuff.” Now, it is the season of
giving because God gave first, but does giving look like empire, the accumulation of more things? Is really the message of love, here’s the thing that I
bought for you to show you? Or to actually enter
into fellowship, care, and relationship with people? Maybe the homework for you
this week and this month is to spend your money this
Christmas to support peace, whether it be the items that you buy, where are they coming from? What is their source? Are they ethically sourced? Do they mean something? Or are you just concerned
with your favorite brands, brands, brands, brands? Number four. Hospitality and radical
welcome are part of the way that we spread peace. Who is God prompting you to
invite to maybe Christmas Eve? This was the mainstay of
the first-century church, is we get together and we
eat and share resources and fellowship together. We get to know each other as family. There are no dividing lines. There’s no weird uncles any more. We’re just brothers and sisters together. Humans are not commodities. They are infinitely valuable
image-bearers of the divine, but need to be invited into that. By and large, they need
to be invited into that. So who do you know right now,
if you’re honest with yourself who do you know that you’re like, “Actually, I think I could
probably invite this person, “and I think hearing this message of hope, “of God who is love, would
be very encouraging to them.” Or maybe you have friends who are like, “Jimmy, great message. “A little bit boring, a little bit long. “My friends would never come to church, “but they might come to my house.” Great. Who do you need to
invite over to your house to extend the table of hospitality
of love, grace, and mercy over pasta, over a beer, over a coffee, over a dedicated time together? Embodying the notion of
hospitality, radical welcome. Where are you creating space
in your life for community, inviting others in, inviting others in? Friends, I mean, we don’t need to look far to see the same things at play: violence, manipulation,
coercion, the bad Darrell, the toxic work environment,
the production over people, the consumer mentality. We don’t need to look far to find that, in almost every walk in life, but brothers and sisters,
let it not be here, not here. May we be people that embrace community, that live out the love ethic of Jesus and that are active members, parts of peaceful,
nonviolent reconciliation. May we know that Jesus is
Lord, that Jesus is love, and that His way is peace. Amen? Let’s pray. God, may we be a community of faith that leaves judgment fully to you, a community that embraces grace. May we be a community of
faith that embraces humility, unity, human dignity. May we be a community of faith that clings to love as our ethic. May we be a community of faith that are influencers
of peace at all costs. And so by your Spirit, may you go with us today and this week as we reflect your love
and live your peace. In Jesus’ name, and
together we all said Amen.

1 thought on “The Missing Peace 03: When Love Wins

  • Please edit your stories because you lost me very early on. The message would have been more potent without it. Still I stuck with you until you mentioned your "mantra". It's cultural and religious appropriation that isn't part of a Christ follower's life.

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