Practical Peace - Dec. 4, 2022
Pastor Mike (00:00):
Requires peace requires forgiveness. Peace requires a readiness to share Generously peace requires you actually to tear down these strict class orders that we have established in our society.
Hannah Hunter (00:17):
A beautiful people. Welcome back to Sundays with The Gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director of Digital Reach here at The Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. As we head into the Christmas season, pastor Mike brings us a message on what it means to be a person of peace and how we can guide our hearts from a place of war to a place of peace.
Pastor Mike (00:33):
So here we are in Advent and, and I many times we, you know, fall into this mode of Adventist that, you know, that period, there’s four weeks to prepare for Christmas, but I want you to know that it’s something so much more than that because advent, the very root of the word means coming. And it’s a call to you and I to remember that God’s kingdom is here and it’s on the way. And so as we, we read the text from the Old Testament, we read about the prophecies, and as we read about the nativity story, we, something inside of our souls should waken up and say, okay, if, if God has already started to fulfill the promise, you know, we see all these ancient texts that were written, you know, sometimes 700 years ago, sometimes 400 years ago. And we see these texts at all Point to Jesus and what the Messiah is supposed to do.
And then we remember that God already started fulfilling it and when at the coming of the Christ child. But we also know that some of the promises are still on the way. And there should be something that awakens inside of us that says, you know what? Christ is coming soon. And, and I guess the question that we have to ask ourselves is, am I living as if Christ is coming very soon? And am I aware that Christ is with us now? So Advent calls us into this new life. A advent calls us into this new way of seeing Advent calls us to say, you know what? We gotta put off the old self in the old ways and even the, the, the standards of this world and say, you know what? I am a child of God’s kingdom. Today is the Sunday that we focus on the peace of God and that calling that each and every one of us has to be persons of peace because Jesus is our prince of peace.
So I wanna invite you to read with me Isaiah chapter 11, verse one through 10. And, um, we should have the words up here on the screen. And um, and I wanna invite you just to read it out loud. Okay. We’ll, we’ll just try to do our best to go through this. But I’m gonna count the three and then we’ll go into it. 1, 2, 3. A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse. From his roots, a branch will bear fruit. The spirit of the Lord will rest on him. The spirit of wisdom and of understanding the spirit of counsel and of might the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. And he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears, but with righteousness.
He will judge the needy with justice. He will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, with the breath of his lips. He will slay the wicked righteousness, will be his belt and faithfulness to sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb. The leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf, and the lion and the yearling together. And a child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den and the young child will put its hands into the viper’s nest. They will, neither harm nor destroy on my holy mountain for the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. As the waters cover the sea in the day of the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples.
The nations will rally to him and his resting place will be glorious. Wow, that’s, there’s a lot in there. But I have to be honest with you, you know, when I, when I read the first part of the text, you know, it, it, it excites me because I can see, you know, the, the coming of Jesus. How the spirit of God is resting on him and how, and how it points to Jesus that will have this wisdom and understanding and, and will have this great counsel and he’ll delight with the, you know, with the law of the Lord. And, and that things will be, you know, put at right with the coming of Christ. And, but then it gets in all those weird stuff. And I, and I wanna say weird stuff cause it’s so foreign to me, the have like, you know, natural enemies coming together to be at peace and then to, to have this vision of animals that are normally like this, this predator relationship now just hanging out together.
And I can just think of anyone that’s involved in our children’s ministry and they have this idea of a kid playing with a cobra or put, or, you know, or I could see my kid being one of the ones that puts their, their hands in the dent of a viper. You know, that doesn’t bring a lot of comfort and excitement to me. You know, I have a lot, lot of mixed feelings, but it should make us feel a little bit uncomfortable. And the reason why is that, because on one side, this text, it sounds like a fairytale. It does, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s like not realistic. And there’s a danger when we read the text and we, and we read these promises of God and we say, well, they’re not realistic or, or, or they’re not for me. Or maybe they’re from some other universe.
But the spirit of advent calls us to take the promises of the scripture seriously. And here’s what I mean. You know, we, we don’t have any problem taking the words of the prophets that point to Jesus. You know, we, we reinterpret the words of the prophets and we see these words that were written to the Israelites and, and how it was given them words of comfort and, and words of hope and words of the future when they were being invaded, when they were, when they were trying to get their national identity. And then we see that God’s point in something bigger, we don’t have any problem with them. You know, pointing to the coming of Jesus and seeing that Jesus is the fulfillment of a lot of these words. We also, um, don’t have any problems seeing how the promises that the prophets speak about, especially like these texts like Isaiah or Jeremiah and other places, the Bible, you know, we don’t, we don’t have any problems seeing them being fulfilled in our nativity stories that we read in the gospel.
Then if we take another part of the scriptures, you know, we, I think most of us do not have a problem with Jesus forgiving our sins, you know, I mean, and atoning for our sins and, and paying the price. And also, uh, I don’t hear many people argue, I hear people argue about me about all kinds of stuff in church, but, but I rarely hear people arguing about me, about like Jesus promising a place for them in heaven. Even the, even the most, like far out liberal theologian, theologian or far out, um, conservative fundamentalist cons, uh, theologian. They, they all, none of them like take issue with, you know, coming into heaven. Very few. But, but here’s where we do have a problem. Many of us, we don’t take seriously the scriptures that describe the world when the Messiah is really raining. And, and yes, you know, we can say, okay, this’ll be settled in the very end. You know, so between Jesus is coming and between his resurrection and the very end, we just do what the heck we want. You know, we, we, we try to, you know, live like some kind of morally correct and all that, but, but this, this stuff about our promise of like real peace and, and, and God reigning in such a way that it affects every level of our world and changes things, nah, we’re not gonna touch on that.
But that is an affront to what Jesus said, because Jesus said that the kingdom of God has arrived. And Jesus said that the kingdom is with us now. So if we really believe Jesus is the promised Messiah and his arrival as the Christ child has ushered in God’s kingdom, and all those who believe and put their trust in him are not only, um, having their sins for forgiven, but we are born again. We are new creations. We are heirs of the promises of God. We are ambassadors of Christ, then therefore, today’s reading of Isaiah must really mean something to us. And if it doesn’t, we gotta ask ourselves why. You see the scriptures talk about the coming of the Messiah, being the, the prince of peace. And Isaiah gives us this, this vision of what this radical peace can look like. Now, a lot of us, when we think about peace and you’re trying to find peace, usually we think of like peace as like the absence of, of hostility, right? You know, um, or we think about the absence of war. But it’s so much more than that because in the Hebrew, understanding, the word peace is rooted in this word called shalom.
And shalom is so much more than the absence of fighting, but actually it’s the, it’s the main maintenance or continuation of a prosperous social system. So it’s peace within the soul, it’s peace within the society. And what this piece does, it promotes the general welfare of everyone. And a lot of places, like if you look read, um, in the scripture, the, the word shalom is also, um, used to be translated as peace, but also for welfare. So when we’re saying like, pray for the, the welfare of the city that you’re in for as it prospers, you two will prosper. That is shalom. And so, you know, shalom is an understanding that the Israelites we’re holding onto, and that we read this promise and we understand that, that what God was saying is cause a lot of these pro prophetic writings were, were written during a period when, when the Israelites were under extreme, like extreme pressure, I mean, I mean, they were overwhelmed.
Everything was gonna be lost. And then, and then o at other times when they reread these scriptures and started to, to reuse them again in their, in their worship, it was times when they were living outside of their promised land and they were saying, how do we come back in? Other times when they started coming back into the, to the ancient land of Israel and resettling, and they’re having to deal with, you know, from Persian meads to Greeks, to to Romans, and they’re saying, man, we’re always the minority. We’re always being pushed. We’re always, you know, it’s not gonna work. We see that these scriptures are lifted up and God’s saying, Hey, even though your world right now looks terrible, even though things look out of place, I have so much more for life for you as you’re reading this, maybe, okay, yes, we’re not under a physical invasion, but maybe in life you feel like you are overwhelmed, you are overtaken.
You feel like that, that you cannot have victory. You feel like that, like God, you know, will you take care and look after my, my, my wellbeing? Do you care about what, what happens with my family, with my children, with the things that I love deeply? And what we see is that shalom is a promise that says that, yes, God cares now, but let’s take it a little bit further because sometimes we, Christians can just be all this concerned about ourselves, and we can just make sure that we are the only ones on the arc and we’re, and we’re cool with the rest of the world perishing. Now, now some of us that may make you feel a little bad by saying that like, but, but by our actions, we really do. Because we’ll say, no, no, I want people to go to heaven. And I’m not, and I’m not talking about heaven today.
I’m talking about experiencing God’s peace and God’s shalom now and earth in society. You see peace. And a Hebrew understanding is the practice of justice for the poor and the needy. It anticipates general prosperity for people and not just the elites. The peace of God is a vision of an alternative society. And it’s an anticipation that a new world is coming. So when we say we want people to have peace, and we wanna have joy, you know, a lot of times we think of it as for the privilege for the elite, for those that worked real hard, that kept outta trouble or maybe reformed their lives. But what we see here is that this peace that God promises, I mean, this touches everyone.
Jesus the prince of peace. And and this is something that goes counterculture to a lot of what our understanding was because think about in Jesus’ society, okay, Jesus was dealing with an empire. Everyone that came before Jesus were, were used to empires that that conquered. So in other words, peace was established by force. And so even like the, these words of Isaiah, it wasn’t like that people voluntarily take their weapons and, and and, and reform them into things that they can be planting with. No, usually what happens is, and and even in our modern day when a country or a nation is bad, what do you do? You know, you put them in order. And part of putting them in order is, is taking all their weapons away. It’s putting them under submission so they cannot rise up. But Jesus’ way of bringing peace was not this imperial way. You know, he wasn’t coming in like Darth Vader with the army just marching in. He wasn’t doing that. Jesus’s peace. And this is what, if we really are honest ourselves makes us uncomfortable. It’s a piece that surpasses our understanding. It’s not logical according to this standard. And the peace is achieved by being vulnerable.
The peace is one actually by, by taking the position of weakness, knowing that in our weakness, God is strong. This peace does not impose its own way. It doesn’t force itself, it doesn’t try to win arguments and, and just like shame people into a corner, it doesn’t do that. And this kind of piece confounds the, the thinking of the empire, it actually frustrates our imperial understanding because we’re so conditioned by the empire, we don’t even want to, to admit it, and we don’t like it. So advent can be very scary because what we are called to anticipate and expect to come in this world, it actually contradicts the expectations that even the ancient Israelites had. You know, because ancient Israelites are expected, a military victory, a political victory, and it overrides our expectations in this society right now, which awaits a peacemaker that will now, and here’s the kind of peacemaker that this society usually and, and, and wants, okay?
We want someone that’s gonna bring peace in such a way that it’ll ensure that we have peace to our advantage in the world. Wow. You see? Like, you know, I mean, I mean if you look at all Christian history, you know, like, I mean, you know, we have these Christian nation states and we, and we try to just impose it so that, that we are better than everyone else. You know, I do hope that many of you will go with us and go with me to the holy land. So you can see how this like imperialistic idea, I mean, did crazy things in the holy land and how the people of God responded to it. But normally we think about peace from our advantage.
The Christ child who was born, you know, the one who was named king. I want you to know that this Christ child, yes, he is innocent, but Jesus is not bland and Jesus is not safe. And Jesus is not harmless. Jesus is a direct, a threat to our imperialistic mentality. The men mentality that we see in Rome and in every oppressive regime, regime that came before and after Jesus, even with what we see in society today, Jesus is a threat to all that. And we better wake up to that. Our mission as a church is extending God’s redeeming love. And we have to understand that this piece of God, that the piece that Jesus is talking about, the piece that Isaiah’s talking about has been imparted to us. And we are called to be this representatives of this piece. I mean, if you think about every time Jesus entered or encountered someone, what did he always say?
He said, peace be with you. He taught his disciples. You know, when you go to a place, you know, you bring peace, you know, you say, let your peace be upon the house. Say, you know what? That peace be with you is not just a little social greeting, but when Jesus said peace be with you, it’s recognition that God’s new order has arrived. In other words, when Jesus shows up and we bring the peace of God, when we, when we meet together out in the city or out in the schools, or out in a restaurant, and we come together as the gathering place the body of Christ, and we bring peace, hello, the peace of God, the reign of God has arrived. It’s a recognition that the shalom order of creation has been restored and is being restored as Jesus brought shalom. So must we as his disciples bring Shalom.
Okay, shalom’s peace. I just wanna make sure I don’t, I always get crazy using foreign words, but just make sure what I’m saying, Shalom on somehow there’s this peace of God that ensures the wellbeing of all people. So the, so we as disciples, we’re called a come in peace. We’re called to share peace. And we’re called to let the peace, this piece of God rest on those of whom we share it with. But peace requires something. Peace is not just some easy stuff. It’s not just some beautiful language, you know, it’s not, you know, just, it’s not something that, you know, you smoke some pot and then all of a sudden you feel good and you’re just at peace with every, it’s not that kind of peace <laugh>, you know, like I, I mean peace is not called to numb us from the pains of this world. Okay? But here’s what peace requires. Peace requires forgiveness. Peace requires a readiness to share generously. In other words, you have to be able to share your, your heart and soul, your, your goods with life. Peace requires a violation. I, I mean, peace requires you actually to tear down these strict class orders that we have established in our society. Peace requires us to be attentive to the vulnerable and the unproductive in our society that we would say who are unpredictible. Peace requires us to, to walk with humility when we have the opportunity to be exalted.
Peace requires us to insist on being last. When we have the opportunity to be first, peace requires us to deny our own self-interests. Yes, for the interests of our neighbor. So the theologian, Walter Brueggeman says this, he goes, these are all the practices that mark his presence in society. These things that I talked about and the empire, and I’m just using this word as the empire. Cause I mean, Jesus dealt with the Roman empire and I still think we still have remnants of it today. The empire in its refusal of the things that make for peace. This is what the empire generates. Hostility, aggression, greed, conflict and violence. Okay, now we’re ready to get, do some work. Now I think we got the stage set right? We’re gonna get into some practical divinity. Okay? So in other words, you know, we in the, in our Wesleyan tradition, you know, we believe in this, rolling up our sleeves and, and allowing this what we believe to come into practice.
And I want you to know, please, please just be tracking with me. And you probably need to hear this message again on the podcast to kind of just go through, cuz this is gonna be hard. It’s gonna be tough. Um, and I, and I want you to, to say, I want to say this up front. Some of you are gonna disagree with me cuz it’s, it’s gonna touch on some things that might be very sacred for you. And some sacred cows might have to die today or die very soon. But I want you to know that there is a war going on among people groups in our world, and especially in our society right now. And, and I thi and and there’s a lot of churches that try to be faithful and we’re one of those that are trying to be faithful. But, but sometimes we miss what our mission is.
And sometimes we think our mission as Christians and a lot of Christians take this position that we’re called to win the cultural wars of society at all costs. And while we think we’re winning cultural wars, we’re losing people. Yes, we’re driving people. We are, we are hurting people. And, and actually what we’re called to do is we’re called to love people. We’re called to be in relationship with people. And you know what, even people who maybe do not surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ, we’re still called to show them that same unconditional love. We’re still called to bring the shalom of God to them so that when they encounter us, when they’re a part of the gatherings, when they’re a part of the presence of Christ or the people of God, that they know that they’re around safe people. They know that this is a safe place, that they can be loved, they can be seen, and they can be heard.
All right? So I came back to this country in 2019, okay? After, after living in, in, in Moscow, Russia for about four years, right? Country changed a lot. And I see like a lot of groups that have risen up that represent a lot of pain in our society. And I’m gonna start naming these things, okay? And so I want you to start, when I’m naming these things, I want you to try to get your mind and heart to, to identify with any group that you have friction with, maybe you don’t agree with, um, like what they believe, what they practice. Maybe it, it goes against your view of the Bible. Maybe it goes against your view as an American or your political affiliation, whatever it is. But, but let’s just, let’s just start naming this, okay? Because these are groups that what I see a lot of Christians actually speaking against and, or, or they’ll say I’m for it, but very conditional, okay? And I’m not gonna go into those topics. We can have discussions afterward, but I’m just gonna start naming some stuff cuz what I’m hoping that, that maybe you’ll see where you need the shalom of God in your life. Okay? So previous messages we talked about, you know, the family and that, that interpersonal stuff, now we’re talking about how do we bring shalom in society, okay?
The LGBTQ community, what’s your feelings about them? Um, people that are part of the Black Lives Matter or people that are, are standing up about, you know, confronting things like anti-racism, systematic racism, people who are homeless,
Pastor Mike (24:51):
Pastor Mike (24:52):
Who are poor, people who are addicts that are addicted to all kinds of substances or behaviors. Republicans, democrats, economic migrants, immigrants, people who have an accent that’s different than your home. Accent. Rich people, the younger generation, the older generation. White people, black people, Latinos. Latinos, Asian people, blue collar people, white collar, educated, uneducated, your coworkers maybe. And we can’t leave out our relatives, right? <laugh> okay. Our relatives too, you know, so as, as I named these groups, you know, maybe, you know, you are some that hey identify with, but others, you know, you have a a different opinion and they’re, and it’s hard for you to interact. Maybe you severely disagree with these people, but if we are committed to extending God’s redeeming love, here’s some things that need to happen. Okay? One, we have to experience God’s redeeming love personally,
And then we have to be willing to live it out practically if we’re gonna make a real difference in this world. Because I I I’m telling you, I think sometimes Christians and, and trying to do it so many other ways and fight the culture wars like we’ve removed ourselves from very critical conversations. We’ve removed ourselves from opportunities to, to learn. And so how do we go forward in this? I want you to know that like our behavior, our behavior is greatly influenced by our way of being. In other words, like kind of this how you are as a person. And, and what you have to do is ask yourself is is do I have a heart of peace or do I have a heart of war? And what is the difference? So a resource that I drew to help me just get some handles on this stuff is as by a book called The Anatomy of Peace.
And we’re gonna be sharing some stuff, uh, with you online. But here’s, here’s, here’s just kind of some stuff that we’re gonna be breaking down for the rest of this message, and I’m gonna try to keep moving it along. A person that has a heart of peace, um, they, they, they realize that people are, who are the other, you know, like part of those groups that you really don’t like or you have friction with or you don’t understand what they’re doing and you just can’t see eye to eye. You still see them as people who have hopes, needs, cares, and fears and they’re just as real as your own. That’s right. When we have a heart of war, now this, this is going to, this might push you back a little bit. And, and I, and I hope it does, we see people, the others as objects, as obstacles to our, our our quest or the world that we want.
We see them that, that what’s important to them, like their hopes, their cares, their fears, we see it as irrelevant cuz it, it doesn’t matter to us, you know? But Jesus changed everything. You know, I love, I love the the Christmas hymn, oh, holy night. And, and I, I get tears in my eyes and every time I hear the song play, especially with th this part of the, the hymn when it says, long lay the world in sin and error, pining till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth a thrill of hope. The weary, we weary soul rejoices. You see, when Jesus shows up, everything matters.
What matters to the soul, matters to Jesus. Jesus shows that it works. So, so now I want to, I wanna invite you to do some soul work with me, okay? Because Jesus frees us from the power of sin in our lives. We, we are not slaves to sin, but you and I have to choose peace. This is what Advent is calling you. This is what the gospel is calling you, okay? Because you know what your identity is an identity of a person that has received and experienced God’s redeeming love. And now you have a choice to, to embrace this piece and carry it out as your mission into the world. So let’s, let’s just do some soul work. You might wanna write this stuff down because we’re gonna kind of get into some terms and things, but let’s do some soul work. Okay? First of all, I want you to identify a people group that you des have an issue with.
Okay? You don’t have to tell it to me, it’s between you and God. It could be the, the migrants LGBT community, it could be Native Americans, whatever it is inside of you. There’s, there’s a, there’s a sense or desire that God puts inside of us, okay? And, and God, I believe that the Holy Spirit works in all of you. And at the very, our first reaction as a Christian is to see the person that’s a part of these groups. We see them and we see their needs, we see their cares, we see their worries, and we see their fears that matter, and we realize that they’re just important like mine. Okay? And, and if you can see them and feel them, you know, you gotta ask yourself, okay, how does my heart feel when I when I hear them come, you know, bring up these accusations, they’ve been discriminated or been persecuted, or they lived under threat, or they, or they’ve been cheated in life, okay?
You know, or they’ve been cheated generationally through. How, how does that make you feel? Now you have a choice, okay? And the choice is this, you can honor that sense or that feeling, that holy spirit little bit of move, you can honor it and act on it. And when you do that, your heart remains at peace. You’re a person, you know, you’re, you’re in that place, you have a heart of peace. The other thing that many of us do for all kinds of reasons is we betray that sense and we begin to see the person in ways that justify our own self betrayal. So what you’re doing when you ignore these things, you’re betraying yourself and then you start creating ways to just justify your own betrayal. And then what happens is we don’t see that people as people, but we see them as objects of blame.
And that’s when our heart shifts from a heart of peace to a heart of war. And sadly, many God-fearing Christians betray this desire inside of them that’s been given to them by the Holy Spirit. And we sabotage the mission of God, that, that God has been given us to bring, be life giving to, to promote the good and welfare of all people. So what happens when we, when we go to war there, there’s like four like styles of war in the heart, you know, that the book describes. And, and so one like the two of them are that we think that we’re higher or above the people. So on one side we think that we are better than the other person, okay? And so when we think that we’re better than them, you know, the view of ourself is that we think that we are superior, we’re better, we’re moral superior, but our feelings, our feelings of anger toward the other, to the other group of people.
And then the way we view the other people, we say, you know what, you have no right to be there. And how we view the world, we say the world is unfair. That’s, that’s one condition. Another question, condition is another hire that we think we’re better. We think I deserve this. So the view of ourself, we feel like we’ve been a victim and we make, even though that someone comes to us and they say, Hey, I’ve been victim. I said, no, no, no, no, I’ve been the victim. You don’t know how I’ve been hurt. And we don’t even listen to what they say cuz we’re trying to justify our own callous heart. So we think that we are the victim, we think that we’ve been owed something, but the underlying feeling of that is depression that’s inside of us, we’re depressed. And then the way we see that other person, we say that they, they robbed me of my peace.
And the way we see the world is like now the world is unjust. Do you see this happening in our world today? Especially those that think that they’re better than other groups. Two more. The other one is the lower than seeing ourselves worse than the, than the people that, that are in front of us. So then sometimes we, we view ourselves as as bad we’ve been made lower to them. And so our feelings toward them are bitterness. And we see the other person as a threat. We see them as a threat and we view the world as a burden. And then another way, the another way of seeing ourselves lower, and again, putting ourselves in this lower box, is that we need to be seen as, so in other words, we want to, we want to have this perception that I need to be seen myself as being, well, no matter how I act out, you know what my feelings are, I have to feel like I’m justified in my behavior.
And then when you see the others, you say like they’re the bigots. And then when you turn it around and say, you know what? The world is against me. Can you relate to any of this? Maybe if you’ve seen it in others, but let’s, let’s not point fingers at others. Let’s, let’s identify where we have these issues where our heart went from a heart of peace to a heart of war. And now we’re gonna ask Jesus to move in our hearts and transition us from places of hearts of war to a hearts of peace. You know, the scripture talk tar talking about like this, this stump that was cut down, but out of that stump that was cut down a new, a new new branch was coming forth the root of Jesse hope of new life. As we’re thinking about this stuff, what part of your life needs to be cut down or that God has cut down so that new life can come? So let’s prayer, prepare for holy communion and we’re gonna, we’re gonna just go through the rest of this message as we go through holy communion together. Holy Spirit ask you to speak to us. Help us not to ignore these critical things, but help us, oh God, to, to embrace and be people of truth and, and most importantly today, people of peace. Let us be aware of that shalom call that you have on us.
Pour out your spirit on these gifts. So as we encounter them, oh God, they’ll be the very blood and body of Jesus Christ. It’s time to confess. So let’s, let’s bring our confession down to what we’re talking about today. In part of confession, we confess and we repent. And that is the first step of making the transition from a heart of war to a heart of peace, is to notice when we’re in the box, when have you been in the box? So, so it requires you to listen to your feelings when you, when you’ve betrayed yourself, when God said, help them, listen to them. Stand up, reflect on your actions. Ask God to give you a spirit of, of self-awareness. And then, and then realize when you went into that box and betrayed yourself and, and ask God to forgive you. And as you do that, let’s take the bread
And the way to, to break that heart of war is to find a way to get out of that box. You start getting outta that, that box by trying to be with people that you are once against. It’s trying to make a decision, you know, try to learn their story so that you will not see them as objects. In other words, it requires you to spend time with them. And as you hold the bread right now, I want you to think about how Jesus did those very things. How Jesus came out of the box for us. I mean, Jesus could have maintained this war that, that humanity felt because they broke God’s commandments. And Jesus said, you know what, I’m coming out of the box because when, when one party comes out of the box and gives the other party an opportunity to come out of the box and be healed, and Jesus did that for us, he came outta the box, he put on flesh, he gathered with his disciples, he lived with people, he saw people, he identified with them. And that’s what we are called to do. And so when we take this bread, we remember that on the night in which Jesus gave himself up for us, that he brought disciples, disciples that were in all different places, that were in all kinds of box. And, and you know what? He got out of the box and was with them and he said, this is my body that is broken for you, taken he and eat.
Do this in remembrance of me. This is the body of Christ that’s been given to you. This is Jesus who came out of the box so that you and I can be freed from the boxes that enslave us today, the body of Christ.
So we’ve confessed and took notice when we’re in the box, we realize that we gotta find ways out of the box and and start living a different way. But now as we, as we take our juice, we ponder the situation anew. Now this is gonna be hard for some of us because some of us have some very hard convictions. And I’m not asking you to compromise scripture. I’m not asking you to go against what you feel is, is is true. I’m not asking you any of that. But what we do know is that we’re called to interpret and practice the faith faithfully. And we have to know the distinction of when it’s time for mercy and love over judgment. And we also gotta remember that God is the judge and all we are called to do is the love as we have been loved. So try to, to to see by asking these questions, I want you to ask the Holy Spirit as you’re holding this, this juice, cuz this, this is the cup of of Christ’s reign. Now what does Christ’s reign look like? You gotta ask God, what are you speaking to me? So you know you wanna see the situation new. So ask these questions for yourself,
These people that you have a problem with, what are their challenges, their trials? What are the pains that they have can ask God to help you to see that this next one, how am I, or maybe even the group of people that I associate with are part of a adding the challenges and the trials and the burdens and the pain. How have I been a part of this? And what other ways have I or the people that I connect with neglected or even mistreated this group of people? Okay, now this is where it gets real. In what ways are I better than I deserve, worse than and need to be seen as boxes obscuring or blinding me from the truth about others and myself and interfering with potential solutions? Is God talking to you right now? What am I feeling? What is God asking me to do today to do for this person or this group of people? How can I help them? Scott, listen to God. He’s talking to you right now. Do these soul questions. And now we remember that when supper was over, Jesus took the cup and he said, this cup is a cup of the new covenant. My blood poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins as often as drink from this cup. Remember me Because when we drink from this club, we proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection and we proclaim it over our lives. So this is the body, the blood of Christ that’s given for you, you may take.
And the last thing that we’re called to do is to act. If you feel that God is calling you to do something, even though it might be outside your character or maybe you feel you’re gonna be a judged or whatever, act on what you feel God is calling you to do. And when I invite you, I mean this is some heavy stuff and went through a lot of things pretty quick, but I wanna invite you to listen to this message again. I wanna invite you to share it with others. I believe it will help other people. And most importantly, please live it out because you know what the reign of God is, peace with God, with peace with others in all creation. And this is the vision. This is the vision that was given at the very beginning of the Bible at the creation story.
This is the same vision. This, this piece, this shalom was what the prophets gave when they were going, when they felt like everything was lost. They were invited. They were called for to this vision of peace. When everything seemed like it was just cut down like a stu. The arrival of the Christ child, baby Jesus in Bethlehem is a sign that the kingdom of God has arrived. And, and, and if some of you are still struggling with this, you know of, of all people coming together and God’s setting everything right? I want you to remind you how the book ends. The end of the Bible gives us the same vision that all people, all nations, all ethnic groups are all coming together under the reign of God. It’s not a fairytale. And you know what? This world that we live in, our society, the people that you encounter every day, they are desperate to have this be a re reality.
And here’s the thing, God will make this happen. This is God’s mission. And you gotta make a decision whether you’re gonna follow the tracks of God and follow the steps of Jesus or be treaded over by it because God will have victory over this. Please choose today to live as Jesus is your prince of peace. Will you pray with me? So Lord, we just touched the surface and I ask that your Holy Spirit will go way deeper and make our souls this restless, that we will not be content if we’ve been having a heart of war. We repent for every moment that we had a heart of war. And I ask, oh Jesus, that you will flood our hearts and that it will lead to action so that we can be persons of peace, that we can have a heart of peace. Lord, we can’t do this on your own strength. So we surrender to your lordship. Come Lord Jesus, fill our hearts, forgive us of our sins, and be our Lord. We follow you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Hannah Hunter (44:22):
Hey beautiful people, this is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of Digital Breach here at The Gathering Place in Palm Beach Gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm Beach area, we’d love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1150. More information about our community and faith, check out our website at the gathering place fl org. Thanks for listening.