The Missing Peace 05: Burning Love


(Music) Welcome to the conclusion of our series on being peacemakers. It’s time to grab your Bible and notes and get ready to learn. First, here are some ideas to get us thinking… When God came to defeat evil, this was not achieved by using an even greater evil, but by using its opposite – namely the surprising and initially counterintuitive weapons of goodness.
– N.T. Wright (NIB Commentary) Evil stirs up more evil. We must refuse to obey our natural reaction. God has a better, supernatural way for us.
– Chuck Swindoll (Insights on Romans) Lived out consistently, the Christian community can become a genuine counterculture that serves as a witness to a world increasingly caught up in the spiral of violence.
– Douglas Moo (NIV Application Commentary) Paul, like Jesus, says that the new-covenant ethic is love. The thesis here is simple: Love should be shown toward God, fellow believers, and even nonbelievers who persecute Christians.
– C. Marvin Pate (Romans) For the early Church, the advance of the kingdom of Christ was the way of nonviolence.
– Scot McKnight (Reading Romans Backwards) Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
– The Apostle Paul (Romans 12) If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.
– The Apostle Paul (Romans 12) Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
– The Apostle Paul (Romans 12) Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
– Jesus (Luke 6) – Well hello friends, welcome
across all of our sites. We are at the conclusion of our series called the Missing Peace,
we have been looking at what it means to be
peacemakers in practical ways. And this is rooted in
the teaching of Jesus on loving our enemies. Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, when you love your enemies, you become like your Heavenly Father. It’s the only time, actually,
Jesus compares our lives to the life of our Heavenly Father. We become like our Father, it’s
the only time He says this, is when you actually learn
to love your enemies. I think because that’s at
the core of the gospel, the good news of Jesus. We need to learn how to love our enemies because God has loved His. That God has loved us
while we were against Him and He has turned us from
enemies into His friends. That’s the story of Christmas,
it’s the story of Easter, it’s the story of everything
of God interrupting our lives with His love and then calling us to do the same with others. So, we’re talking about something that’s really core to our
faith and really important for bringing change in our relationships and in who we’re becoming ourselves. If we’re gonna talk about love
and loving our enemies well, it’s great for us to just stop and say, what do we mean when we say love again? And love is something that our
culture often defines in ways that is different than how
Jesus would use the word. When we think of love as
just an emotional experience of attachment or even of joy or pleasure when we’re around someone. I love you because when I’m with you this is how you make me feel. That can be a beautiful thing
we’re trying to experience, but that’s not what Jesus is thinking of when He talks about love. The word agape, we can define
in a few different ways and one of those ways is to
say that love is the choice. Love’s the choice to
invest value, attention, and energy in a specific direction. So, it’s a choice. Jesus commands love, so it’s
something we can choose. It’s not just a reaction
we’re waiting to have. It takes initiative, love
is a choice to invest value, attention, and energy. Value, I’m not just doing
this because I’m wonderful, I’m doing this because
I have chosen to say you are valuable. I invest value in who you are, and therefore, I give you my attention. I offer my interest,
you’re interesting to me. I wanna know what is
happening in your life so I can respond properly. I give you value, interest, and energy. Love takes work and I
will invest my energy in that specific direction. It’s meant to flow within
and between persons. But sometimes love can be
directed towards things in an unhelpful way or towards values or cultural constructs. The Apostle John warns in 1
John chapter two, verse 15. He says this, “Do not love the world “or anything in the world.” The world here is seen
as the way of the world, the culture around us. Remember, in Romans 12,
the Apostle Paul had said, “Be transformed by the
renewing of your mind.” And he says, “Do not be conformed “to the pattern of this world.” That’s another way of
saying, don’t love the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them. Remember Jesus says, enemy
love is what helps us become like our Father. The love of the Father is in us when we learn to love our enemies. And so, one of the ways we love the world is actually saying, I’m just
gonna buy into worldly values on the issue of love rather
than the way of Jesus. The Apostle Paul talks about
one early church leader who took that path, his name was Demas. And he says, “Demas,
because he loved the world, “has deserted me and has
gone to Thessalonica.” Again, loving the way
of, prioritizing payback, vengeance, justice over mercy. We want to learn how to
go beyond justice to mercy and loving our enemies. This is the way of Jesus
and sometimes it’ll put us in a counter-cultural position
with the world around us. And that’s for sure. So, we wanna choose the way of love. The Apostle Paul teaches how to do this. And there’s this lovely analogy that N.T. Wright sometimes uses. When we read a passage
like this, Romans 12, which is our passage for this series. If you haven’t been
here, we’ve been walking kinda verse by verse
each week of this series through Romans chapter 12. When we read a book like Romans, when we read the writings
of the Apostle Paul or any church leader, we’re reading an example of
them writing to the church to help them live the church live out the teachings of Jesus. So, you can read the teachings of Jesus, then you can read the teachings
of the early church leaders saying now this is practically
how we will live this out. And N.T. Wright uses the
analogy of say a band or an orchestra playing this
beautiful piece of music. But if we work backwards,
Jesus is the composer. Jesus is the composer
of the music we play, but the early church leaders,
like the Apostle Paul, are the conductors who
are helping the church play the music of Jesus. And he also points out,
sometimes the music is being played by an orchestra
that’s at about the level of let’s say, a junior high band and it’s not working out that well. You know, it’s Christmas season and last week, we were at our daughter’s junior high school orchestra concert. (audience laughs) And our daughter played
the flute perfectly. (audience laughs) But I’m not too sure
about all the other kids. But what N.T. Wright
would point out is that even when you listen to an
imperfect presentation of a song, if you listen closely, you
can still hear the beauty of the original composition
shining through, but you also admit that
this is done imperfectly. And the church will always
live this out imperfectly. But if you look closely,
at least, hopefully in us you can see the desire and the difference that the teaching of Jesus can make in our desire to live that out. Right now we’re gonna let the Apostle Paul conduct us in helping to live
out the teaching of Jesus. Open up your Bibles with
me to Romans chapter 12, Romans chapter 12. And we’re gonna start around verse 17, we’re reading verse 17 to the end, so you can get your own
Bible or look on with someone or grab a visitor Bible
or use a Bible app, but somehow, get into the text with me. Romans chapter 12,
starting around verse 17. While you’re doing that, let me just make some announcements, give you the time to find the passage. Next week, Katharine Hayhoe,
Christians and Climate Change is gonna be our theme. Listen, do yourself a favor. Just look up Katharine Hayhoe online and investigate some links
and you will be encouraged and then share those with some friends and invite them to come. She is a professor at Texas
Tech, she has a program online with PBS in the States. She’s been named the UN
Champion of the Earth. That’s amazing, that just sounds like she should have a cape. (audience laughs) Time Magazine says she’s one of the 100 most influential people. Fortune magazine listed her as among the 50 great world leaders. This is exciting, I’ve already had emails from a number of people who know nothing about the Meeting House, but heard that she’s
coming and wanna be here even just to hear her
as a scientist talking. And we get to hear her,
not only as a scientist, but as a Christian sister
and it’s gonna be wonderful. So, please invite your friends. That’s next week. The week after that, we’re starting a new series
that hopefully is another series you can invite your friends to and it’s gonna be based
on John chapter nine where Jesus heals the blind
man, but then that leads to a collision with the
religious leaders of His day. And we’re calling it Blind Religion as John chapter nine
is beautifully written in a way that points out
the real blindness here is the blindness of religion, and that’s where the real healing, the real miracle needs to be taking place. And so that’s starting the
week after Katharine Hayhoe. It would be great for you
to invite your friends. Also, I will mention that
this is the first year we’re doing a J-term in January. A January term, which just
means that for the month of January, for a few weeks, we’re allowing different
home churches to work it out with their pastors on what
they’re gonna do for that season. Some may just take a Sabbath
and lie fallow and relax and rest and recoup for
the month of January. Others will do some additional
leadership training. Some home churches will continue through, but many will stop. We’ll also have, during this J-term, a couple of TMHU courses starting. Remember TMHU is our opportunity
to dig a little deeper into specific topics to
help get you more prepared to get the most out of home church when you go to home church. And we have two starting, at
least opening up, in January and that is Spiritual Parenting 101 and also Bible 101, which is
just an overview of scripture, getting the big picture
from Genesis to Revelation. And those will be made
available in January or they may be launching
in sites after January. Pay attention to your
announcements at your site, talk to your local pastor about those, they’re coming in the new year. All right now, let’s dive into, oh wait, one more thing! New Year’s Eve, ho! So, listen, we’ll be
dancin’ the night away here New Year’s Eve, it’s
worth a drive to Oakville, I hope you come. And this year, for at
least an hour of that, we’re gonna turn it
into a Scottish kaylee. I’ve already ordered and
received my kilt online. (audience laughs) And let me tell you, the diet starts now to try and fit into that thing. I don’t know, it could get pretty ugly, but I’m gonna give it my best. I cannot tell what is
front and what is back, I can tell you that much. But this, well, come and we’ll see if we figure it out by then. All right, see you New Year’s Eve. Okay, Romans chapter 12
starting at verse 17. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” Well, stop right there. To put this in context,
this is part of a section of Romans 12 that was kinda headed up by Romans chapter nine. We had Jimmy here
talking about Romans nine and then some verses after that. We had Danielle here, beautifully
exegeting what this means lived out in practical ways in our lives. And Romans nine is kind
of written in the Greek as a title of a section, in a sense. It begins, if you glance
up just a few verses to Romans nine, it says,
“Love must be sincere,” in my translation. The translators provide
the words, “must be” because in the original
Greek there’s no verb. The original Greek just says,
sincere love, sincere love. It’s like a subtitle of a section. And so, many translators,
in order to turn it into a sentence, will say
love must be or love should be or try to make your love sincere. But it’s a bit of a
heading, just sincere love and then everything
that follows is written in a form in Greek that would suggest it’s all part of the
same, continuous thought. In other words, from
verse nine to the end, Paul is expanding on what
sincere love should look like. The word for sincere means anti-hypocrisy. It’s literally the word for hypocrisy with a negation prefix. Love is anti-hypocritical,
it doesn’t wear a mask, it doesn’t play act. It starts with genuinely valuing somebody and then leaning into
that, allowing your actions and your attitudes to
be informed by the value that you give that person. Sincere love looks like these things. So, the last couple of weeks, we’ve been walking through
what that looks like. Very practical, Paul
gets here in verse 17 on, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” Now there he’s coming really
close to quoting Jesus. But the Apostle Paul
tends to not quote Jesus as much as use his own words to express what are clearly the thoughts of Jesus and the teaching of Jesus,
and that’s always been what true discipleship looks like. True discipleship, that is
being an apprentice of Jesus and learning from Him, becoming like Him, is not so much just memorizing things that you compare it back,
it is really learning and internalizing the
truth that Jesus taught and then being able to
express it in your own words. And that’s what we see the
Apostle Paul doing here. But he comes very close to quoting Jesus when he says, “Do not repay
anyone evil for evil.” Jesus put it this way in
the Sermon on the Mount. He says, “You’ve heard that it was said.” Matthew chapter five, “An eye for an eye “and tooth for tooth. “But I tell you, do not
resist an evil person.” Do not resist an evil person. Now, when he says, you have heard it said, but I tell you. Capture the power of that. He says that six times
in Matthew chapter five. They’re called the six antitheses, where Jesus contrasts the
old way with the new way. He’s bringing in the new covenant. You have heard it said, but I tell you. You have heard it said, but I tell you. His own authority is paramount. Sometimes He’s helping them dismantle their religious tradition. Sometimes He’s addressing
scripture itself. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The lex talionis is part
of the law of Moses. Now, it’s not saying,
make sure you get payback, what it’s saying is limit
your revenge to like and kind. So, if someone knocks out a tooth, you don’t get to burn his house down. It’s a limiting commandment, but Jesus says that’s not enough. If you’re gonna be my
follower, you gotta go beyond just limiting your revenge
to actually non-resistance, but instead love. He’s gonna give specific examples then, three examples we talked
about in the first message in this series, so I won’t repeat them, but three different examples
of how we can interrupt the status quo with acts of
love that surprise people. We call them creative disruptions. Creative disruptions,
where we don’t respond the way our culture, the world
should think we would respond and the script gets interrupted and we go, whoa, whoa, whoa. And in that moment, it creates
this creative disruption, creates a moment of
potential enlightenment for the perpetrator for them to say, wait, you’re not responding as the victim I thought you would be. Who are you? Who am I? What’s really going on here? Now it doesn’t mean that
the perpetrator will always use that gift we give
them as an opportunity for understanding something
richer and more full. They often will not, but that’s all right. This is not just pure pragmatism, we follow Jesus not just
because you know what it works, this always works. We follow Jesus because it is the way that God loves the universe and we’re in tune with who God is when we love our enemies. We’re becoming the people
we’re designed to be, whether it works or not. Sometimes it works and
sometimes it doesn’t. If you looked at the life of Jesus from a human point of view, you would say it didn’t work, right? He loved his enemies and
where did it get Him? Got Him killed. And so, we’re not responsible
for how people react to us, but we are responsible for
loving people the way God does, loving our enemies. So, the Apostle Paul says,
“Do no repay evil for evil. “Be careful to do what is
right in the eyes of everyone.” Do you see that? That’s interesting. There will certainly be
times where what people say is right, we know is wrong
and what people say is wrong, we believe to be right. So, what does Paul mean when he says be careful to do right
in the eyes of everyone? I think what he’s getting
at is that there are going to be times when when you
make the loving choice, there’s something in the soul of people that will be stirred to admiration, even if they wouldn’t follow that way. There’ll be times when
you choose the way of love where someone might say, I
wouldn’t respond that way, but that’s pretty cool. It stands out to them in some way and there’s certainly cultural values that align with Christian values, as well. When we love well, there
will be people around us and not everyone, but there will be people who are drawn into the story of Jesus because they see how we love. We’re gonna talk about a
concrete example of this happening in a few minutes. But let’s move on. Verse 18, “If it is possible,
as far as it depends on you, “live at peace with everyone.” I love his practicality
here, if it depends on you, to the extent it depends
on you, if it’s possible. He knows, again, that
we’re not responsible for how people respond,
sometimes it won’t work. But to the extent that we’re involved, we’re going to always be
working as agents of peace. And now verse 19, “Do not
take revenge, my dear friends, “but leave room for God’s wrath. “For it is written, it it mine to avenge, “I will repay, says the Lord.” Revenge and wrath are the two things here that Paul says, as Christians,
we’re to have no part of. God is a just judge, He’s
also a merciful Father. We emulate the merciful
and enemy-loving Father. We do not emulate the
just judge role of God. We cannot be trusted to sit
in the seat of judgment, it brings in the worst
in us, not the best. And so, God will judge on judgment day, we let Him be the judge. We focus on emulating the
enemy love of our Father. Having said that, some
might say, well, that’s it. On judgment day, He’ll judge, but until then there’s no justice and that’s why he writes Romans 13 to say, in the meantime, God will work out justice through the state, through the government
in a number of ways. They will do it imperfectly,
just like the church does things imperfectly. But in general, God will
work out His justice in this present world through the state and as we pointed out in the
first week of this series, chapter 13 verse four uses
the very same two words for vengeance and wrath. Those are the two things the state will do and these very two things
here, vengeance and wrath are what the church is
said not to participate in. We have a different calling. On the contrary, look at verse 20. On the contrary, now here
is the church’s calling. This is what we are called to do. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. “If he is thirsty, give
him something to drink.” Wouldn’t that be a beautiful
time to just sit back with a sense of gloating? Justice, payback, serves you
right, look at you suffer. But rather to move in and be
a blessing to our enemies. And he says, “In doing this,
you will heap burning coals “on his head.” What? What is that? Burning coals on his head,
that sounds kinds violent, that sounds unkind. Are you trying to hurt the
person through kindness? Are you trying to, in
fact some translations may muddy the waters a little bit because they try to follow
one, particular interpretation of this and will add
the word shame in here where the word shame is
not in the original Greek. And it will something like,
pour burning coals of shame upon the person’s head. And I understand what
they’re trying to get at. It’s one possible interpretation. Now, the first interpretation
is the most literal. Pouring burning coals on
the person’s head literally. Wait a second, what? In that culture and certainly
within certain settings, you tried to keep your coal
fire burning 24 hours a day. You would build a bigger fire on that, especially in the urban setting. You’re in a home, you would
keep a small coal fire lit all the time, then during
mealtimes, you build on that. You have your heat, you’re ready to go. You don’t restart the fire
from scratch every time. If your coal fire went out, then you would go to
a neighbour’s and say, can I have a piece of coal? A few pieces of coal? My fire’s gone out, I
need to rebuild again. And so, Paul may be literally
saying, if they’re hungry, give them something to eat. If they’re thirsty, give
them something to drink, and if their coal fire goes
out, don’t just give them one, don’t be stingy. Heap coal on, the burning
coal, on their head. See, they would have
carried things, a pan, there would be padding
and there’d be protection. And then the coal pan that it would be in, they would carry that on their
head within that culture. So, he may very literally be saying, give more generously than just,
sure, you can have one coal. If you’re my enemy, it doesn’t matter. If you have need, whatever
it is, food, thirst, coal, I’m gonna give it to you abundantly. Could be more literal than we realize. Another interpretation, though,
is what coal symbolizes. In scripture, fire, and
specifically the fire of a coal symbolizes purification. We can burn away the
impurities, the dross. It’s used that way in Isaiah chapter six. Isaiah chapter six is
this fascinating passage where Isaiah has a vision of God and when he sees God, he
says, “Woe to me! I cried. “I’m ruined, for I am
a man of unclean lips “and I live among a people of unclean lips “and my eyes have seen the
King, the Lord Almighty.” And he thinks he’s doomed,
but what happens next is fascinating. It says, “Then one of the seraphim,” that’s one of the angels, “flew to me with a live coal in his hands, “which he had taken with
tongs from the altar. “And with it, he touched
my mouth and said, “see this has touched your
lips, your guilt is taken away “and your sin atoned for.” Fire, in general, coal
specifically was used as a symbol of burning
away an area of sin. So, here when the Apostle Paul says, when you love your enemy you may be giving them the opportunity. Now, it’s up to them if
they wanna accept it or not, but you’re giving them the
opportunity to burn away their prejudice and their anger. You’re creating a creative disruption. It’s one of those moments. And if they receive it,
can receive atonement. Comes from kippur, the Hebrew
word to be cleansed away, to be wiped away. They can have that bigotry or
whatever is motivating them, that anger, that unforgiveness to be wiped away in this moment. And then he concludes with this verse, verse 21, “Do not be overcome by evil, “but overcome evil with good.” “Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.” That’s powerful. I’d like to share an example. Before we throw it open
to Q and Eh, I wanna share an example with you of
someone who has done this and certainly throughout church history, we see Christians getting this right and Christians getting this wrong. But it’s important when
we have clear examples of someone living this out,
that we remind ourselves of it because it kinda puts flesh on the bones. It gives us a chance to see this lived out in a real world scenario. And you may know people
who emulate this for you and live this for you well and
you’re encouraged to see it lived out in their life. Let me tell you one story, have you ever heard of Ruby Bridges? Ruby Bridges, beautiful young girl, six years old at the
time, who was the first within New Orleans when they
began school desegregation to be sent to, ordered by the court to be
sent to an all-white school. She was the only black
child to be sent there. She was escorted to school
every day by 25 US marshals for security. What a way to go to school. To be taken by the government,
escorted by security. Why? Because outside of the school, I love the books. My daughter just read this
book, In a Class of Her Own, recently at school and it led
to some great conversation. And the security was needed
be outside the school every morning and every
afternoon, when she would come and she would go, there was
usually around 200 people who were picketing and
chanting against Ruby, against this six year old. They were being horrible. Ruby, as an adult now, will
say that she didn’t know at first why they were there. Maybe they were there to cheer her on, maybe it was a parade. She didn’t know, she thought it was great. (audience laughs) She said it really dawned on her why, that they were actually there
meaning her no good will when she began to pay more attention to what they were saying. And it was the day also
that they had a mock funeral where they carried around a
doll baby they had painted black in a casket to represent her. They were hideous and she
realized that they didn’t like her and her response is fascinating. You see, there was this
gentleman named Dr. Cole, Dr. Robert Cole, who was
assigned by the court. And he said, good, I want this case. He was assigned to keep in touch with her and to process with her
throughout her first year. With all the hatred every day. And who were these people? These were the parents and
the students of the school who were on the picket line,
because what happened is when she was enrolled, all of the families who were presently attending withdrew, they boycotted the school. They didn’t want their children in the same school with Ruby. And so, they were the
ones on the picket line. So, with this kind of
vehemence and hatred and abuse being hurled at her, Dr. Cole
spent time with her regularly to assess how is she doing. And he couldn’t figure it out. He explains that she’s a bit of a mystery because as the year went
on, as it dawned on her just how hateful and evil they were, she had a sense of calm
and fortitude and peace and even love, he said,
that he couldn’t figure out. She wasn’t responding psychologically- As a child psychiatrist, she wasn’t responding psychologically the way he would have predicted and so that became his investigation. We can’t show the whole thing, but I’d love for you to
watch a bit of a clip, it’s a few minutes, it’s worth watching of an interview with Dr. Cole about Ruby and what he discovered. Let’s watch this. (audience applause) Thank you, Jesus, for beautiful examples of what we’ve been
talking about lived out. And as you can see, the
world watches and says, that might not be my example,
but there’s something there that pulls me in. Here we are decades later
still talking about this. You can be someone
who’s mentored by Jesus, the Apostle Paul, the Holy
Spirit, and Ruby Bridges as your sister in Christ
as you move forward into the season and into
the new year as someone who loves your enemies and
prays God’s blessing for them. I want us to close by just being open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us and apply that to our lives. But before I do, let’s just
take a moment for Q and Eh. Maybe one or two questions
we’ve got time for before we wrap up. If you have a question,
just raise your hand, we’ve got someone here with a microphone and make sure they see you
and they will come to you. A question about this passage
or how we live this out. While you’re deciding if
you’re gonna raise your hand, maybe someone sent in
a text question, yes? Good, okay. Why didn’t God set the original laws to what Jesus says in the New Testament? Why didn’t He say in the first
place to love your enemies? Say, that’s wonderful, thank you. Well, first of all, He
does and He doesn’t. The hints of the teaching of Jesus are throughout the Old Testament. In fact, here where the Apostle Paul says that if your enemy’s hungry, feed him, thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing so, you’ll heap
burning coals upon his head is a quote from the Old Testament,
from Proverbs chapter 25. You see in the Old Testament
the seeds of the new covenant. It’s a clue that the same
God who has birthed Jesus into this world, who has created
His own creative disruption through the Christmas narrative, who has rewritten the script. He doesn’t send a violent
Messiah born in a castle with the army behind Him in
order to drive out the Romans, but He comes in a
completely different way. That same God is the Author
of the Old Testament. You see in seed form. But the Apostle Paul answers that question in Galatians chapter three
and Galatians chapter four. And this is the answer he gives. Now this answer will just
raise more questions, I’m sure, but this is as far as
scripture goes with an answer. To what, I think from the very beginning, was a real question. Why not just start with Jesus right away? Why so much time through the way of law? And the Apostle Paul says
because humanity wasn’t ready. Humanity wasn’t ready. We were so hard-hearted and
so developmentally immature, it was actually like raising
a strong-willed child, we needed more rules,
regulations, and routines as children need. But that God was, while He
was temporarily parenting us through strong rules,
regulations, and routines, He was helping prepare us to grow up to become God’s adult children
who are ready for grace and understanding how to
apply those principles. So, the Apostle Paul takes
a developmental approach answering that question. And so, he says, when
the time was fully come, when we were ready, when
the timing was right that’s when Jesus came to preach
this beautiful way of love. And, in fact, when I look at human history before and during and since Jesus, I don’t usually ask the question
why did God wait so long, I still wonder if He came too early. (audience laughs) I think, are you sure we were ready for this message of grace? ‘Cause we’ve really abused
it in a lot of ways. But if God says we were
ready, then we were ready. We can do this. It’s a great question. Okay, does someone have a mic? Over there? – [Audience Member] Hi Bruxy. Most, if not all of us,
will be sitting down to celebrate Christmas
dinner and there may be that annoying brother-in-law
or Cousin Eddie. Is it okay if we go direct
with the burning coals on the head? (audience laughs) Actually, what I wanted to ask you was, with respect to creative disruption, how far do you think one
should go in that regard to disrupt people who you
don’t wanna be vengeful with, but you do wanna expose
them to themselves? – Yeah, that’s a wonderful
questions, very good. My sense is the degree of the drama of a creative disruption, which
I think there’s real drama in Jesus’ teaching of
turning the other cheek, giving the cloak and tunic and cord, and also walking that second
mile with the Roman soldier, as we talked about the first week of this series in Matthew five. The extent of the drama
will depend upon the extent of the offense and the
context, the magnitude that the cultural support for it. So, it may take something very dramatic. What do you do, you stick somethin’ in a, not a cog in a wheel. Put a wrench in the, you know what I mean. (audience laughs) The machinery’s moving along and you’re sticking something
in it that’s gonna stop it. – [Audience Member] A wrench in the works. – A wrench in the works, thank you! 10 points for this side,
ding, ding, ding, ding. And so, the magnitude of
that is gonna depend on what kind of works are going on. And if it’s a friend
or a personal relative, it may be something much more subtle, as you gently push back, or
just refuse even to engage or say, well, that may be
true or you may be right. I’d love to learn more, can I ask you some more
questions about that? So, often even just
responding with questions to value them and say I’d
love to learn more from you, even if the end you still don’t agree, and you find out it’s just more nonsense behind their initial nonsense A. To even say, well, let me
ask more questions about that may be a script changer that’s enough that’s different then, oh
yeah, well you think that? Well I think that’s stupid
and I’ll tell you why. Rather say, okay, that’s interesting. I wanna know more about
why you would say that. Questions can sometimes be
that low level of drama, but still a creative disrupter
that changes the script. So, I would say it
depends on a few factors. And, if in doubt, talk it over. And this is why sometimes
the application of these are things we need to do in community. Talk it over with a brother or sister who knows more of the
details of that situation. It’s good, thank you, it’s good. Okay, last one. (audience member) -Wondering
if you’ve had a personal example of a time where
you’ve had to forgive And couldn’t have done it
without God’s intervention and lessons learned, when you’ve
gone too far or not far enough. – Yeah, personal example, yeah. (audience laughs) How long do we have? I’ll give you a couple examples. I wanna tell the story gingerly so as not to implicate particular people. But there was a season of my life where someone hurt me terribly and, I won’t explain the
connection, it’s very strange. But one of the connections
was a box of chocolates. They hurt me through a box of chocolates, it was intended to cause pain. And I had this box of chocolates
and I called up a friend, a brother who I knew to
be wise in these ways and I said, I don’t know what to do? Do I throw them out? Do I stamp on them? Do I throw them against-? I gotta get rid of this horrible feeling that these chocolates are
torturing me right now. And he said, why don’t you
have communion with them? And it changed everything. I took an hour or two, I took my time ’cause you know, you gotta eat the whole- (audience laughs) No, I guess that’s Catholic tradition or something, the wine, but whatever. I was confused, I was young. (audience laughs) And I got a bottle of Coke
and a box of chocolates and I had communion, just me and Jesus. And it was beautiful and He met me there and something healed. And I thought, Jesus, they hurt You with more than chocolates, you know, and you prayed forgiveness for them. I can do this. I’ve been hurt on other
occasions through even, it could be church leaders
who have said nasty things about me or other pastors
and sometimes what I will do is make sure, I’m going
to listen to their podcast with my Bible open and
take notes to learn. Say, God, teach me through them and I’ll try and find
something that God will speak to me to them, so I
don’t, in my own heart, continue to foster a sense of enemy and say, well, I’ll just listen to them so I can find what’s wrong
with them and show them. But I’ll listen, Bible
open, not as a pastor, not in self-defense, but
to say, Lord, teach me through the one who’s hurt me. And here’s the amazing thing is God can speak through a donkey, He can speak through your enemy. You can learn something from everyone. And it helps even within, you de-escalate so you no longer go into a
relationship ready to fight, but to say we’re family. Even if they don’t think
we’re family, we’re family. It’s okay. Those are a couple, one
old and one recent example. In those times I haven’t forgiven and have just been bitter
and held onto judgment, never happens. (sighs) (audience laughs) No, we don’t have time for
that list, we don’t have time. Friends, I wanna close in prayer. Before I do, how about I do this? I’m gonna read this passage one more time, just these verses we looked at today. And I’m gonna read ’em
slowly, and I’d love for you to invite the Holy Spirit to speak into the nooks and crannies of your heart, into those places that I’m not gonna see, no one else is gonna see. ‘Cause that’s the thing. A pastor can preach a text
and give some general examples and teach what the text is teaching, but the application, our lives are so nuanced and there’s such specific relationships and things that God wants
you to apply this to, I’ll have no idea. No one else will, but that’s
where the Holy Spirit kicks in and we’re going this together. And the Holy Spirit cannot
take this text and say, and this is what it means for you as far as your next steps are concerned. And so, let me read this again and just invite, in
fact, let me do that now. Holy Spirit, speak to us, direct
us, illuminate in our lives where we should be shaped and
reshaped by the love of Jesus by this text. Let me read it. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. “Be careful to do what is
right in the eyes of everyone. “If it is possible, as
far as it depends on you, “live at peace with everyone. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, “but leave room for God’s wrath. “For it is written, it is Mine to avenge, “I will repay, says the Lord. “On the contrary, if your
enemy is hungry, feed him. “If he is thirsty, give
him something to drink. “In doing this, you will heap
burning coals on his head. “Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.” Overcome evil with good. Isn’t that the heart of
everything that matters? Overcoming evil with good
is God’s relationship to this world. It is the way Jesus lived out the gospel and it is the mission of the church. Not to fight evil with evil,
but to overcome evil with good. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we receive
your commission to us through this scripture to
overcome evil with good. I pray that You will
protect us from ourselves, from our own impulses and
inclinations to wanna fight back in like manner, in like kind. I pray we would take
example from Jesus primarily and then from the writings of Paul and the early New Testament church and beautiful saints like Ruby Bridges. I pray that we would manifest something that is counter-cultural,
that is not of this world. And we invite your Holy Spirit
to mentor us in this way. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

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