How To: Love Others Well - Sep. 4, 2022
Pastor Mike (00:00):
Be willing to have your life inconvenience, acknowledge, and repent of the ways that you have labeled people or made those judgements or those assumptions. And if you have a choice to do only one thing in response to God’s love in your life, it is love your neighbor.
Hannah Hunter (00:16):
Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sunday with Gathering I’m Hannah Hunter, the director of digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm Beach Gardens this week, pastor Mike wraps up our series on the art of neighboring with a message on loving people. Well being open with our minds, available with our emotions and generous with our time overcoming ourselves in order that we may be transformed by and beings of endless mercy love and grace,
Pastor Mike (00:44):
Pastor Mike (00:46):
In church, we’re familiar with these terms about like, we’ve all sinned, we’re all sinners, we’ve all missed the mark. We’ve all blown it. And we know that because of Jesus. You know, we, we get a do over. We, we know that that we are forgiven. I mean, we have this intellectual concept in us, but for most of us, I mean the least people that I’ve met, uh, since I’ve been living here and actually people, a lot of people I’ve met in my ministry, um, throughout north America, I’d say that most people that I’ve encountered, at least in north America, don’t have this understanding that their personal sin, you know, their, their individual acts of obedience have ever led to, I mean, an innocent person being betrayed, tortured, executed a lot of us don’t, you know, think about like, uh, um, I mean, I haven’t heard from many of you, but I wanna say, you know, because of, of my disobedience to God, my, my sin, um, the hopes of, of many people was just destroyed.
Pastor Mike (01:57):
In fact, um, not many people say, you know, what, if people knew what was going on, my inner life, most of the American public would despise me. And also, while we talk about forgiveness a lot, we don’t talk about it in such a way as an experience of understanding God’s forgiveness in a way that is such a radical part in like that we’ve been forgiven under the law, or we’ve been forgiven under the penalty, but also we’ve been forgiven of the guilt of ours. In other words, like, you know, those individuals that have done things that society says, I will never trust you again, have not many people say I’ve experienced, forgive this in such a way that now my reputation has been destroyed. Uh, restored. In fact, I’ve been restored to a place that’s better than what I was before, but in the Bible, there is a person that, that kind of checks all those boxes.
Pastor Mike (02:53):
And that is Peter because you remember that, um, you know, before, um, Jesus died on the cross, Peter made some radical statements. He said, you know what? I, I will never betray you. I’m gonna, I will, I will follow you to the end. And we know that that Peter messed it up. He denied Jesus three times. And then even after the resurrection, Peter had a, had a hard time, um, even connecting the dots when the women told, you know, Peter that, Hey, the tumor is empty. He had a run and C for himself, but Peter, despite all these major, screwups had another chance. And we’re gonna jump into, first of all, John chapter 21 versus 15 to 17, when they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon, Peter Simon’s son of John, do you love me more than these? Yes, Lord. He said, you know that I love you. Jesus said, feed my lambs again. Jesus said, Simon’s son of John, do you love me? He answered, yes, Lord. You know that, I love you. Jesus said, take care of my sheep. The third time he said to him, Simon’s son of John, do you love me? Now? Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time. Do you love me? And he said, Lord, you know, all things you know that I love you. And Jesus said, feed my sheep.
Pastor Mike (04:33):
This is, this is the, the story of the turning point of Peter. You know, where, where, you know, he denied Jesus three times and now he’s able to confess his love again to Jesus, you know, three times, you know, we see the beginning of that restoration. And I want you to know that today, if any of you feel anywhere, remotely like Peter, that you’ve blown it, you’ve blown it again. And you almost feel silly asking God for forgiveness. I want you to hear that today is your day for another chance. And you know, you can know today that you are for forgiven, that God, something, you need to hear this, that God is not angry with you. In fact, God loves you and God delights to, to be with you and God can and will make you complete and whole something. You need to hear this.
Pastor Mike (05:22):
You can be healed yes, from all that, that screwed up generational trauma that you’ve inherited and passed on. You can be healed from all of that, those broken relationships. They can be mended. Jesus offers us hope today. Now a couple things that we can draw from, from this, this first, this encounter with period, uh, with Peter is that first Peter had a, a second chance. And I think that is awesome. And then later on the, this text goes, it says about how, you know, Jesus Peter. Remember when you said that you’re gonna, um, you know, go to death for me. Well, you eventually will die from me. You’re gonna fulfill all the things that you promised and said that you’re gonna try to do through me. You’re gonna be able to do all these things. So Peter gets a second chance, but, but here’s something that I want us to, to hold onto is that the second lesson that we get to this is that Peter is called to love others.
Pastor Mike (06:17):
And this is something that we, we, we, we overlook a lot, you know, Jesus remember Peter’s relationship for all these years of following Jesus, approximately, you know, three and a half years of following Jesus. He knew Jesus as the shepherd. And he was like the sheep, right? Following Jesus, being nurtured, being fed, being cared for by Jesus, given the direction, being warned all the time. I mean, Peter understood, um, what it was like to have to be like a sheep. And now after the resurrection, Jesus has saying, okay, Peter, as I have loved you, now you need to take care of my sheep. You gotta feed my lambs. You need to take care of the sheep. You gotta feed my sheep. You see, I want you, some of you write, write this down. I mean, I think this is really important. You see an encounter with God’s mercy, an encounter with God’s radical and mercy of grace always equates, always results in a radical love of God and neighbor.
Pastor Mike (07:25):
But, but sadly, sadly, here’s what happens is that our radical, bold love that we have for Jesus rarely grows beyond that first radical encounter we had. So some of us, you know, might, might have had an encounter in camp or for me, you know, I had this encounter, you know, when I was like 14 years old and I was following Jesus and, and, and I, and I hold onto that. And, and I, and after that moment, I was so excited about Jesus. And I have a lot of friends that were in that same place, but very few of us actually grew beyond that. First love beyond that, in that first encounter. And so what happens is we, we get a little stale. So today what we’re gonna try to talk about is we’re gonna, we’re gonna get into how to revive that again, but also how to, to get our focus.
Pastor Mike (08:19):
And we’re gonna talk about some assumptions that we have about other people that could be very dangerous. We’re gonna jump to Luke chapter seven, and then I’m gonna just gonna read this text, try to follow on Luke chapter seven versus 36 to 50. Okay. So that’s, that’s the big text. When dive, I wanna encourage you to, to look at it more throughout this week, listen to these words. When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisees house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life, learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees house. So she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume, and she stood behind him at his feet weeping. She began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped him with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
Pastor Mike (09:14):
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, if this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him. And what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner. Jesus answered him. Simon. I have something to tell you, tell me teacher. He said to him, two people owed money to a certain money lender. One owed owed 500 denari and the other 50, neither of them had the money to pay him back. So he forgave the debts of both now, which of them will love him more. Simon replied, I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven him, you have judge correctly. Jesus said, then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, do you see this woman? I came to your house and you did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
Pastor Mike (10:23):
You did not give me a kiss, but this woman from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you her many sins have been forgiven as her great love has shown, but whoever has been forgiven, little loves, little then Jesus said to her, your sins are forgiven. The other guests began to say among themselves, who is this who even forgive sins? Jesus said to the woman, your faith has saved. You go in peace. Now let’s just step back. I mean, many of us, if you’ve been in church for a while, or if you read the Bible a little bit, you’re probably familiar with this story, but let’s just kind of, you know, step back and try to put some context to this. Okay. All right.
Pastor Mike (11:17):
Jesus was invited to a religious person’s home. You know, this might be an equivalent of, of, you know, maybe come under the home of a PA, a pastor or a prestigious minister. And, and as we look at this a little bit closely, you know, we also know that, that this woman has a reputation around town. In other words, she’s been seen outside of the synagogue or outside the religious community. And she does not have a good reputation. People have labels on her, but we also know we can make this assumption that, that before this encounter, this woman heard something about Jesus. In fact, whatever Jesus said to her, overwhelmed her, and it caused her to do something radical. You see in the near east, uh, tradition, um, or nearest culture. You know, you know, the, the, the washing of the feed is a sign of, of respect.
Pastor Mike (12:07):
Um, you know, when she started kissing his feet, I mean, that, that was a sign of just utter abandonment. She was actually just emptying herself, emptying her life at the feet of Jesus. And she pours out so much love and gratitude toward Christ. You know, that that’s the big picture, but if we look at this a little bit closer, let’s just go to verse 37 38. It says a woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees house. So she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume, which again, many people think that this is, uh, you know, one of a, person’s most costly personal possessions. And as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. And then she wiped them with her hair and kissed them and poured perfume on them.
Pastor Mike (13:01):
You know, we all want to wanna grow in our faith. And my desire is that everyone in this congregation or here’s this message would have some sign of spiritual maturity. And I tried to find spiritual maturity as something very simple that our lives, the more we move forward toward God, the, the more our lives will look more and more like, Jesus, you see, Jesus loved people. He actually saw people. He spent time with people and he took time to get to know people, but he also made himself available to others. You know, he allowed his fancy dinner to, to get messed up. And I guess the question that we have to ask ourselves, if we’re really trying to follow in the steps of Jesus, is that, do we really notice our neighbors or do we, do we really notice, take, notice, take care of the people around us?
Pastor Mike (14:05):
Cause I gotta be honest with you. And it’s a lot easier to go somewhere else to serve Jesus. It’s a lot easier just to go and, and drive to a shelter or to a feeding place and, and just, you know, make a meal and just have a, a little bit more of a transaction. You know, you’re doing some good and it is doing good, but you protect yourself because you don’t have to go very deep. Cuz you’re trusted that someone else went a little bit deeper. The social worker went deeper or the, the people that are doing the ministry, they they’re doing all the hard work, but, but I’m doing my part. You know, I’m, I’m helping part of the big picture and it’s, it’s safe also. It’s a little bit nicer cuz you know, the problems are in another part of town, right? Um, we’re not, we’re not, you know, all those people that are really complicated who are living maybe in chronic homelessness or, or chronic addiction or who are struggling with mental illness or, or whatever else has got them into this place. They’re over there. They’re far away and it’s nice. You know, it’s there and not here, but ministering with your neighbors. It stinks. Sometimes I’m talking of those that are close because you know what they’re they see you every single day. They work with you. They, they live next to you. You can’t put a mask on and pretend everything’s okay. If you have a, if you have a big font, I tell one of those big nasty fights in the house, you raise your voice a little, your neighbors hear it.
Pastor Mike (15:40):
<laugh> yeah. They, they, they, they know what’s they know what’s going on. It’s easy to pretend and look like, you know, we’re doing everything okay about Jesus when it’s far away. But man, it’s hard to do it when we bring it close to home. And I think that’s why we avoid it. Verse 39, when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, if this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner. When I was wrestling with this text, you know, it became very apparent that Simon was offended at Jesus. And, and when we read this text, it’s very easy for us to put ourselves a position. As you know, you know, of course, you know, we’re Christians, this is a good thing that Jesus did. Or, or to put ourselves in the woman’s, you know, position of like, wow, it’s great to be forgiven.
Pastor Mike (16:39):
I wanna, I wanna express my love to Jesus, but I wanna ask you a question. When was the last time you made religious people uncomfortable because of the people you decided to hang out with. When was the last time you made religious people? Okay. I’m talking about, let’s say Christians. Okay. I don’t even say religious people. Let’s say Christians. When was the last time you made Christians uncomfortable Christians uncomfortable to a degree that they actually wanna criticize. You question your faith because you decide to welcome them. In other words to say, Hey, you could come here. You can, you could be a part of my life. When was the last time you made Christians so uncomfortable that you say, you know what? You know, you, you deserve the same, right? To me, you deserve this, the best seat at the table. You know what? I am not going to exclude you.
Pastor Mike (17:35):
When was the last time you made yourself so uncomfortable, when you decide to love somebody like Jesus, do you know what I’m talking about? There, there are times, you know, like where we get convicted by the, we get challenged by the gospel and we know we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do. And then the spirit starts giving us that inner restlessness, right? And then you say, you know what? I’m gonna do something. That’s outside of my comfort zone. I’m gonna talk to somebody that I’m not used to talking to. You know what? My, my, my social subculture said, these people are bad and yet I’m gonna radically welcome them. I’m gonna put my arm around. I’m gonna love them. I’m gonna, I’m gonna say, you know what? You know, come, come to the inner circle. When was the last time you made yourself uncomfortable, you decide to love Jesus. You see, Jesus knows that Simon is offended because of this.
Pastor Mike (18:33):
And I think the problem with us is that sometimes we haven’t been uncomfortable in a long time. <laugh> we haven’t been stretched in a long time. We haven’t been challenged in a long time. And so Jesus gives a parable to stretch all of us. Now let’s just read a summary of that. It’s in, uh, Luke 41, uh, seven versus 41 to 42. It’s right there on the screen. Go ahead and just read this to you. Two people owed, read out loud. Okay. Two people owed money to a certain money lender. One owed him 500 Dary and the other 50, neither of them had the money to pay him back. So he forgave the debts of both now, which of them will love him more.
Pastor Mike (19:24):
It’s so easy to be emotionally removed from this parable. Okay. I mean, so much that has been described. And what I just read to you in Luke chapter seven is so removed from us. Okay. Like we don’t have a culture where we wash people’s feet. When they come in our house, we don’t have a culture where, um, when someone comes in our house, you know, I mean, just even like distinguished figures that we go ahead and kiss ’em okay. We, we don’t do that. Right. We, we, the, the alabaster of perfume, we, we don’t do that either. Okay. We don’t save Jo. We don’t save, put our life savings in perfume and, and, and save it. And we, and when, and when someone was the poor, something like that on one of our feet, we would be like, what the heck are they doing? Or, or, and wouldn’t even make any of these connections or assumptions that we, we are doing now. But here’s something that, that is also to me, really important about this. So we don’t have any of that kind of culture, but here’s something that we lack tremendously.
Pastor Mike (20:28):
We don’t have a forgiveness culture. We do not have a forgiveness culture. And the way that, that, that God forgives, we don’t have a forgiveness culture that is so radical, that it offends people. Do you hear what I’m saying? We don’t have a Christian forgiveness culture that when we practice it, it actually offends people. And I want you to know that the gospel is offensive. It is offensive. It will challenge. It will make you uncomfortable. All right. So now we’re gonna give you some disclaimer. Now we’re gonna, we’re gonna start preaching. <laugh> what, what I’m gonna say to you will, there’s a possibly that might offend some people in this room. What comes next? Um, it’s gonna be taken from a, a recent example in politics, but I won’t hear me. Okay. Listen to me, this example, it’s an illustration and it’s not about politics.
Pastor Mike (21:32):
It’s something much deeper. So I don’t give a fart about your politics. Okay. I mean, I just, I don’t care about that stuff. I don’t care what your political party affiliation is, but if you do happen to be one of those that will get offended with what I’m gonna say, please be mature about this, and don’t be a church punk. Okay. And, and what I’m saying is like, here’s what I encounter with like church punks all the time. I mean, they, they have temper tantrums, they get offended. Sometimes they blow up on you and sometimes they just run away and don’t say anything like they ghost you. And then what they do is they’ll have these like really, you know, mature social media arguments, or they’ll have the cool parking lot discussions, or they’ll try to engage in any kind of passive, aggressive behavior they can.
Pastor Mike (22:20):
Okay. And, and they try to do this all the time. And so don’t, don’t be a church punk. Okay. Just, just don’t. But what I’m asking you to do is that if, what, what I say to you offends, you remember that you’re like, Jesus, right. That we’re called to be mature. So, so how do you respond to something that, that, that kind of ruffles your feathers or, or offends you, first of all, you take a deep breath, you calm yourself down and you remember that it’s just an illustration. I mean, it’s just a, sorry, sermon, come on. And then you, and then I want you to ask yourself a question, is that, why did what I hear, make me feel this way? Okay. Ask yourself that. Why, why did this make me feel this way? And then ask yourself if you have a different opinion about this, that we don’t have a forgiveness culture, you know, how did this crazy guy get to that point?
Pastor Mike (23:16):
You know? Um, and then try to Def write down or define those things that you really don’t like, or you really struggled with. And then go ahead and make an appointment with me and let’s talk about it further. And then let’s when we meet, try to say, you know what? We don’t have to agree, but at least I wanna understand each other’s position. So church punk, mature, Christian, you choose what you wanna be. Okay. So here’s my example recently on news and, and I, and I started seeing all this stuff, um, a bunch of student loans were forgiven and a lot of people reacted in different ways by this. And let me tell you my struggle. So, so here’s my struggle with that. You know, my parents divorced when I was nine years old. So I come from a, a single parent home. Um, my, my father’s side of the family, they’re all immigrants.
Pastor Mike (24:17):
So like, I mean, anything they learned about how to do things normal in this country. It took ’em years. I mean, I mean, it was like, by the time we’re all like all grown up that they actually figured out, like what the quasi normal way to be in America is. Okay. Um, I, I goofed up in, um, high school, like my, my 11th grade year. I just like, I goofed off. And then also, you know, um, my family didn’t have any kind of prepaid college plans or any of that. So I missed the, the Florida bright futures. Cause I skipped too much school. I, uh, you know, like I said, those savings, different things. And then, and then like for me, I, I didn’t even think that it was possible to get like student loans that was like, not on my radar. So I said, okay, you know, I’m just gonna have to work like, like manual labor work.
Pastor Mike (25:04):
And, and so I got into construction and learned a lot of things about construction and construction culture. In fact, some of those things like colorful languages still sticks with you after a while. Um, but anyways, um, but I still felt that I was like called to serve Jesus through all this. Right. And, and eventually, um, you know, I started finding my way into the Methodist church and, and I, and I found that, that, you know, if you wanna be a minister to Methodist church, you actually have to go to, you know, like get some higher education. And so I went to college and what I did in college, I actually worked while I went through college. Okay. And then I had friends that would use their student loans that were studying with me. And I’ll never forget when the loans were dispersed. I mean, one of my buddies, you know, went to the store and bought a 65 inch flat screen TV, you know, and that’s what they did with their loans.
Pastor Mike (25:55):
So, so I saw that, but for me, you know, I, I worked, I applied for grants. I, I had scholarships. I, I graduated very well in school and I graduated debt free. Okay. And so knowing my story, can you understand why I have had, had like a, a struggle with, you know, when I heard the news, I mean, it was like a, a little like little mark, but let’s, let’s talk about another side of my, me and we gotta name this part because yeah. On one side it looks like, man, Mike, you worked hard, you did this, you know, you graduated with honors, you’re got all these accolades, but also I didn’t do this alone. And I’m the beneficiary of so much privilege. I mean, let, let, let’s, let’s be honest. Okay. I mean, this, this country is amazing in so many ways, but, but there’s still a lot of systemic white privilege there.
Pastor Mike (26:58):
In fact, there’s so much like, like systemic white privilege around here that if you, if you start or even start talking about the words, racism, people get ticked off. If you start saying the words like anti-racism that you’re committed to that kind of work. People get so mad, they think that you’re a communist or something. And then they, they, they, we try. And when I say we, I’m gonna talk about, there’s a moment where I even try to, to deny some of this like, oh, well, because of my political agenda, like I’m not communist, you know, people are like, well, don’t, you know, when use that term, you’re linked with this and you’re linked with that. And so, so yes, a lot of privilege and that, and that the systemic area, the other thing we have to understand is that I was a part of, and believe it or not, you are a part of a very privileged denomination, the United Methodist church.
Pastor Mike (27:44):
Okay. And, and so when I’m saying that, that, that in this connection, you might not see it sometimes always in your local church, but the, the broader connection, there’s a lot of affluent people. There’s a lot of well connected people. Um, also, um, there’s some influential people and there’s a lot of networks that are, that exist within our system. So because of those networks of the system, okay. You know, like there’s, there’s, there’s scholarship opportunities, there’s all kinds of things going on there. And for me, not only that part of that privilege, but the other privilege that I have, that a lot of people that I, that I started talking to didn’t have is that I was blessed to have a lot of mentors and guides along the way. So I had this like whole system, like set up for me, like, because of success, you know, and people like, you know, trusted me to be their pastor really early on.
Pastor Mike (28:40):
And, and so again, like a lot of doors were open before me that were not open to others and I’m aware of this. And so if I only look at my, the highlights that, you know, the highlight reel of my thing, my thing, you know, I could say, okay, you know what, that student loan thing I should have a problem with, but then when you bounce it with the privilege, the story is a little bit more complex. So here’s a problem that most of us have. And I’m still like, you know, working through this is that a lot of times we, we only see the world through our own like personal story. And, and we only measure things by the personal grace and mercy that we received. But then what happens is most of the time we, we forget all the other blessings that we have.
Pastor Mike (29:27):
And we say, you know, and I mean, golly, today’s, this is labor day weekend. I mean, how appropriate is this message, right? And we say, you know what, like, you know, I worked hard. I made my path, I did this, you know, my, my family were immigrants. You know, we came through and we had the America dream. We did all this stuff. And, and really what happens is we start focusing a lot more on works than mercy and grace, we say, we believe we talk all this stuff in church all the time. Right. But then when it really matters, when it touches our pocket book, when it starts talking about things, attack, man, we get real uncomfortable. It’s kind of like, you know, um, those of you who are students, probably like we used to get free wifi in creative ways. You know what I’m talking about that no one has a problem with like free wifi and with, you know, using creative ways to get free wifi.
Pastor Mike (30:18):
And, and you know what I’m talking about, if you’ve done it, um, but then the moment you start on the pay for your own wifi, and then you, then all of a sudden, you don’t wanna give your password to anybody. Right. You know, you don’t wanna, like, I don’t wanna share that, man. What do you talk about, man? You know, there’s some privacy issues, you know, you be careful of those hackers. And, and what I’m saying is, is that, um, we’re very comfortable of like labeling people, living with our stereotypes as a way to excuse us from actually practicing mercy. Hence, when I, when I read, when I was reflecting on this scripture and then seeing what’s in, in the world, it’s not, again, it’s not about politics. It’s really about reading my heart. I realize I’m like, God, I still don’t have a forgiveness culture.
Pastor Mike (31:10):
I’m talking about a radical, generous forgiveness culture. I don’t have it. And our world doesn’t have it in our church. We don’t have it. We, we relate more to Simon more than we want to admit. We get offended. When, when people who we think don’t deserve it, or didn’t have the, the same moral conduct or the same work ethic or whatever, when they start getting benefits, we don’t like it. We don’t have a radical forgiveness culture. And that should make all of us feel very uncomfortable. Even if you disagree with everything I say, good, it needs to make us uncomfortable. So we gotta think about this. We gotta see what’s going on inside of our soul verse 44. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
Pastor Mike (32:17):
You see most people unless they experienced some radical mercy in their lives and allowed God to heal and transformed all that kind of like that, that generational trauma that’s been passed on to us and allow God to heal those different areas of lives, unless you’ve really experienced some radical mercy and you real, and you realize this stuff, you know, it’s really hard for us to connect with the love of the father in a way that we want other people to experience it. You, you hear what I’m saying? Unless unless we’ve, we’ve had this radical experience of grace for most of us, we’re gonna be going back to the we’re gonna, we’re gonna be elevating works over mercy and grace. I mean, this is just a default response, especially when the spirit of God is not working in our lives or we’re closed to the spirit of God because our heavenly father, I got news for you, the God that we love, and where should we sleep out is like outrageously generous, outrageously good and outrageously merciful.
Pastor Mike (33:25):
I mean, it’s so outrage. It doesn’t make logical sense. And this is the nature of our God. And it stretches us. And you know what, unless somebody, you know, has this like acute experience and think about this, like, think about those people that have the acute experience with like radical grace. I’m talking about, they’re the ones that talk and say, you know, Jesus saved me, you know, I was lost, but now I was found, I really like screwed up every part of my life. And they start telling all these things and you’re like, man, you really didn’t it up. You know? And then they’re like, you know, but, but Jesus, you know, helped me find a way. And I, and I’m brand new and I’m a King’s kid and they, and they talk about it. And, and I mean, they’re just so over the top, right?
Pastor Mike (34:10):
You ever encounter somebody like that. And usually what happens is that you get two responses to people who’ve experienced this radical acute grace one, you get people who, who are in need of that. And they, they, oh, you know, I want to hear, tell me more. Or people like us, people like me who that was. That’s a little bit, I mean, it’s a little bit far removed now. We feel uncomfortable because the rest of us, when we think about church and grace and life with Jesus, here’s what we talk about. And, and if I’m wrong, please talk to me afterwards. But, and I’m making an assumption and I’m putting this out there, but the rest of us will say, you know, none of I’m a pretty good person. We are comfortable living in our Christian subculture. And then when I say we live in a Christian subculture, it means all our friends are Christian. All the media we consume is Christian. All. I mean, every everywhere where we get our information, news songs we sing and all that, it’s all like, just like one theme, one place.
Pastor Mike (35:15):
Um, you know, we, we look more that we worry about whether people are more ideologically Christian than actually a real changed heart. And then, then there’s some, then some people who have like church hurt, you know, they’re like, yeah, I have that. And I don’t wanna be a part of that. And, and so, but because of church hurt, you know, you don’t wanna repeat those bad things. So you’re also leery of the person that has that little bit more of a radical testimony. And here’s the product of this or the, or the fruit of this. We don’t want to then talk about our faith to those outside of our subculture. We don’t want to talk and inter engage with our, our neighbors. We, we feel uncomfortable. We don’t want invite people to, to, to come to church or, or, um, or, or even just kind of like, say, try something new. That’s why, you know, even like with the pushing with alpha and saying, Hey, you know, let’s invite and all this kind of thing, man. It’s, it’s hard for us.
Speaker 3 (36:13):
Pastor Mike (36:14):
Asked this question and I’m, and I’m asking you this Simon, do you see this woman? You see, we make a lot of assumptions about life. And we make a lot of judgment about people. And I wanna say some, it is dangerous because we don’t know the whole story. We do not know what people went through. And then, and then what we do is we put ourselves in the position as a judge and we have no authority to judge anyone. We don’t have a right to judge anyone. We become blind when we start condemning people.
Pastor Mike (37:08):
And then it, it translates into our actions cuz we don’t invite people. We don’t talk about our faith in and we tell God, no, no, God, I’m not gonna be a part of your mission to, to bring life to people. No, God, I, I, I don’t want that person to receive hope. That’s what you’re doing. Every time you refuse to resist this internal gravity that pulls you to be just a religious person living in your subculture. You tell God, no, because you’re like, you know what? I don’t want to connect with somebody. I don’t want somebody to know the goodness of Jesus because I’m afraid because I’m, I’m religious, I’m all these things. You Rob the person of their opportunity of choice. And you see, this is where we have to really understand that, that what we do really matters, but it, but it’s a change of the heart. So I believe that until we, we need to get attuned to our own brokenness and let let’s talk about it. We have to be not only just attune our own brokenness, we gotta be attuned and become like a very aware, aware to the point where it makes us feel uncomfortable about the unjust systems and brokenness in our world and society and not try to whitewash it. Not try to pretend it it’s not there, but let’s be, let’s be courageous and face it. Talk about it, name it,
Pastor Mike (38:34):
Cuz if we, if we’re not attuned and, and if we’re not attuned to what’s going on the side and not attuned to our reality, it’s gonna be really, really hard for us to live out our mission to extend God’s redeeming love in authentic ways. It’s gonna be like impossible. But I do believe that there’s still hope for all of us. I do believe that God is still at work because you know what? God speaks to us in the midst of these uncomfortable moments or when our lives get disrupted. When we start feeling like, okay, God, what’s going on. And, and when we take that courageous journey to do some deep soul work and say, okay, God, I really want you to, to transform me. I really want to be like, Jesus, God have your way inside of me do your thing. So I guess, you know, just to find out if you need some soul work or you need some work in this at all, just start asking yourself these questions, you know, do we really see what’s going around, going on around us? I mean, do we really see what’s going around us? And then also are we present to the sacred moments that are available all around us in our, in our own neighborhoods.
Pastor Mike (39:45):
So here’s what I wanna invite you to do. There you go, that’s right there, but I’ll read it. Be willing to have your life inconvenience. In other words, allow your schedule to get disrupted, acknowledge and repent of the ways that you have labeled people or made those judgements. And or those assumptions live at a pace that is interruptable. So there’s time for divine moment. In other words, don’t hold onto your schedule. So you know, hard that, you know, I have to just, we just have to do this, that I’m not gonna have any interruptions, not gonna change the plan. And if you have a choice to do only one thing in response to God’s love in your life, it is love your neighbor. If you had one thing to do, it’s love your neighbor. Cuz Peter said a bunch of times, Jesus, I love you.
Pastor Mike (40:35):
I love you. I love you. And Jesus is like feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my shape, stop being so darn self-centered, you know, start meeting your neighbors, listening, inviting invite people to experience God’s goodness and value loving people. I mean, it has to be of value like an internal VI. It has to be in the decision to say, you know what? I’m gonna love people because you know what they’re worthy to receive. God’s goodness. And they deserve to have an opportunity to say yes so they can have hope. That’s how important this is in Galatians five 14. It’s been said before in previous messages, but for the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command, love your neighbor as yourself. So my prayer has, as we’ve been just crafting this message and you know, being vulnerable and kind of just sharing my junks.
Pastor Mike (41:38):
You, you can see my growth areas, um, is that you’ll have a why, you know, when, when you, when you’re tempted to say, nah, I’m just gonna go back and do my little Christian routine. You’re gonna be like, no, this is the why, this is why we have to do this. You know, this is why we, we must make this movement to connect with people. So that, that when, when we first encounter somebody they’re a stranger, but I still wanna get to know them and become acquaintance to building genuine relationships. This is the why that we must be able to see and actually listen to people without being judgemental. This is the why to just, you know, to cross that line, you know, there’s been a lot of lines given to us in this, in this message series. You know, the line about taking the great commandment seriously, even literally there’s been a why about taking the time to slow down our lives and not live such a fast paced life.
Pastor Mike (42:31):
So we don’t miss the God moments. Okay. Another line has been meant. There’s been a line to say, you know, resist the fear that, that, you know, you want to say, you have all your excuses of why somebody doesn’t deserve grace and radical mercy. There is a line that you need to be willing to cross. And I’m just telling you, if you just, just, just take a moment and you cross that line, um, you’re gonna find a new way of living. I know it was hard to say it was even hard for me to come outta my words that, you know, as a church, we don’t have a forgiveness culture, but when we look at how we get all upset and outside of these buildings, you know, you tell me and you know what, if you, if you criticize the way it’s been done, then try to find a better way of doing it. But that does not excuse us from not having a, a forgiveness culture. If we can get ahold of these things and take ’em seriously, it’s gonna usher in a whole new way of living. It’s gonna, it’s gonna change the dynamics of this church. It’s gonna change the dynamics of our community. So back to our starting point, and this is my closing point is that God is radically merciful and gracious to you.
Pastor Mike (43:45):
He is radically merciful and gracious to you and therefore you must love others the same way. Amen.
Hannah Hunter (43:59):
Hey, beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of digital reach 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 1115, for more information about our community and faith, check out our website at thegatheringplacefl.org. Thanks for listening.