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Healing Not Hostility, Part 1

From the series What Now? What Next?

What are you most afraid of in your life right now? In this program, Chip explains that fear is a normal response in turbulent times, but if we’re not careful that fear can become toxic. Much like poison, our fears have the potential to deeply harm both ourselves and others. Don’t miss how we can properly deal with this emotion.

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Message Transcript

I’d like you to pause for a second and I want you to answer this question: What is your greatest fear about the future? Is it death? Is it a job loss? Is it the anxiety and depression, the issues that have happened to kids? Is it the economy? Is it the shift in morality? The injustice? The sex trade?

What is it? I want you to really pause for a second and think about you personally, when you think of the future and you have fears, maybe for some of you that are older, it’s like, Wow, what about my grandkids? What kind of world? Is it just maybe even this whole moral shift of right, wrong, and gender confusion and…?

We are living in a completely different world than we were not very long ago. And it’s critical to get really clear on what you are fearful of, because fear paralyzes. Even if you don’t recognize it, it blames. It causes your mind to go, “It’s those people,” or, “The government,” or, “It’s that group,” or, “It’s so-and-so,” or…

And some of the concerns might even be about the Church. Why don’t they do this? They should stop doing that. What is wrong with everybody? Fear will cause you to lose perspective and not think clearly.

The reality is, is that we are living in a very different world. And I actually wrote on your notes, and I think you’ve got them there in front of you, here’s the object or objective of this series. It’s to help followers of Jesus determine God’s will and priorities for their life and ministry in this rapidly changing and challenging world.

The reality is the days of clearly defined right and wrong, marriage as a forever commitment, the integrity of one’s word, gender defined by one’s birth anatomy, and the nuclear family as the bedrock of society are gone, at least in America.

We live in a new day with new rules and new values. A lot of those values are antithetical to the clear teaching of Scripture. And we as believers and followers of Christ are living in a culture that is a lot more like the first century than the last century.

For many of us, for the first time in our, at least adult lives, we are on the outside looking in, to a world that is rapidly changing, and that no longer supports your values and your beliefs.

And I would suggest that, therefore, we are at a crossroads. And, no blame here, because I have done it myself, but we can whine and complain, and argue, and lament this radical shift or we can be like the men of Issachar who understood the times and realized what they must do. And this series really is about that.

Our focus, we have really got to focus and get our focus back on Jesus Himself. The world is looking for hope, the world is looking for a Messiah; He has come. And we have all that we need. You are His hands, you are His feet, you are His eyes, you are His agents of change, you’re salt and you’re light, you are love. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, it dwells in us.

Notice on your notes, the good and the bad of major disruptions. The good is it causes us to reevaluate. I mean, when there’s a huge shift, you have to pause and say, “Wait a minute, what am I doing with my life? Where is the world going?”

How about you? See, the temptation is to hope it gets better, and all of that has this very subtle, “My personal peace, my prosperity, our future, if everything is okay with our little part of the world, then…” and that’s not God’s agenda.

There is the reevaluation that is good. And the bad is the anger in our souls.

People are mad. Really mad. Mad at injustice, mad at racism, mad at political division, church division, mad at we are following the science, but it says this one day and it says something else. And it has just been a mess.

And the problem with being angry is it will poison your soul. You don’t think clearly, you don’t speak wisely, relationships don’t go well.

And so, I want to do a little thing to help you about these major disruptions, these new eras or epochs is that major disruptions always bring conflict and change, even positive disruptions.

I want you to see rather than looking at all the negative and getting angry inside, reevaluation is important, but also every great movement of God has happened when there has been this huge lull – this big problem – when people realize life is not working, relationships aren’t working, philosophies are breaking down, economies, political structures.

And so, I have given you a little Bible study. I would like to go through it in depth. Instead, I have given you sort of some passages. But let me give you the overview. The greatest disruption, I mean, the greatest shift of epoch in all of world history is Galatians 4:4. It says, “When the world,” literally, “was pregnant, God sent forth His Son.” I mean, God the Son entered human history and you talk about something that has marked time, from the moment that He came, He lived, died for our sins, rose from the dead, currently sitting at the right hand of the Father, we have B.C. and A.D. Everything has changed. It was the most disruptive thing that has ever happened.

And then when that happens, the result, you get conflict within and conflict without. And I gave you some passages there in Luke. But it’s interesting, Jesus came, we think, He’s the Savior. Things are going to be great! He goes to Nazareth and His very first message, remember? They give Him the scroll, He opens it up, He talks about the Messiah. And then He says, “In your hearing it has been fulfilled.” Basically, “I am Him.”

And then the text says, “And they were all in awe of His wonderful words.” And then He went on. And He told the story about a leper from Syria and about a widow who was – He began to mess with their culture. He started talking about how God delivered non-Jews at a time when the Jews were hurting.

And it says, “They took Him out to the edge of a hill and they were furious and they wanted to push Him off of it,” and it says that He passed through them. And if you keep reading the text, then He heals a leper and then He heals someone else, then He heals mothers-in-law and then He teaches the multitudes and huge crowds are following Him.

And then the external again. “Hey, what about fasting and what about the Sabbath?” And He begins to give the spirit and the heart behind the Law instead of just all the rules. So, He messes with their culture, then He starts messing with their traditions.

And just before He gives the Sermon on the Mount there, or Luke’s version of it, it says that His enemies came together, and they were livid and filled with rage and sought to kill Him.

I just want you to know that when there is a major shift, it always brings change and it brings conflict. Conflict without and conflict within. But it wasn’t just conflict with the external. The disciples, do you understand that, yes, there were the fishermen, but He had a zealot and then He had a tax collector. Here’s a guy, one of His disciples, who was absolutely committed to overthrowing Rome by violent insurrection and assassination.

And here’s a guy who has compromised and bought into the system and betrayed everyone. And both of them are one of the twelve. Did you notice all the way through the gospels that there’s this little conversation that happens? The night, the same night where He washes their feet, does anybody remember what they were arguing about before they went in and got their feet washed? They were arguing about who is the greatest. What is that called? Conflict.

Then the Church is born. Oh, everything is going to be great! We have this idealistic view. Then there’s conflict. Acts chapter 6, Acts chapter 7, and inside the Church you’ve got the Greek-speaking widows and the Jewish widows. Acts 15, another conflict. Here’s what I want you to get. Conflict and change are always a part of disruption. The issue is: how do you respond?

Notice, Jesus responded by saying, “New wine needs new wineskins.” When He was being attacked, what He basically said was, “There’s a new paradigm. There’s a different Kingdom, it’s an upside-down Kingdom.

And when He gave the Sermon on the Mount, basically what He was saying was, There’s a new way to do it. It’s not tit-for-tat. It’s not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. There’s a new game plan. God the Son has come. It’s following Me. And then He began to talk to them about those that’ll mourn. Those will be comforted. And those who are in sorrow.

And then we kind of skip over it, because it hasn’t had much to do in our country until maybe more now. “Blessed are you when men persecute you. Blessed are you for My name’s sake when they speak evil of you.”
He was giving them a new paradigm for a disrupted world about how to live in a different way. And then He will actually go on and talk about treating our enemies in ways that are so radical and so crazy.

I have taught those passages around the world in places like China and the Middle East. I have had unbelievers and Muslims shake their head and go, “What? You do this to your enemy?” It’s a radical, counterintuitive, supernatural love of God manifested through us. And in that first century, it started very small, like a grain of wheat buried in the ground. And then little by little by little it bore much fruit.

Finally, His method, I call it life. The whole history of the Scripture, have you ever noticed this? Man in God’s presence. Sin and the fall. And then as Scripture rolls out, what it is, it’s God continually wanting to bring mankind back into His presence.

The tabernacle was – what? A place where God would come and meet with His people, where heaven and earth would come together. And then there was the temple, where heaven and earth would come together. And the pinnacle of heaven and earth coming together where God’s presence returned is – what? It’s the incarnation. It’s Jesus Himself.

And then what is the mission? Where is the temple now? 1 Corinthians 3 says the temple is us gathered. And 1 Corinthians 6 says it’s us individually. Your human body is the temple. It’s where the presence of God is manifested now by the Spirit of God to manifest the power and the personality and the presence of Jesus so how you talk and how you act and how you respond is the way Jesus would if He lived inside your body. And if you have trusted Christ, He lives inside your body.

And so, notice, I gave you my little acronym, because I think so often we think it’s about going to church or activities. Jesus says in Luke 6:40, when a student is fully trained, he will be just like his teacher. That was His method, that you would recognize and live out the presence of God.

And then He said to the disciples in John 13:34 and 35, “A new commandment I am giving you all, that you love each other the way I loved you,” radically, sacrificially. What? “By this the world will know that God sent forth His Son.” And then He told them, “I want you to be on mission,” 24/7. Not at church, not on a mission trip.

When you wake up until you go to bed, you’re the salt, you’re the light. “Let your light so shine before men by your good works that they would glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

And my little acronym is B-I-O for BIO, because what we need to be in the world today, our response is life.

And the “B” is for living before the presence of God, coming before God daily. The “I” is for doing life in community. Not just a group, but in community, loving each other. And the “O” is for on mission, 24/7.

Now, with that in mind, let’s get some perspective, because the problem is that we have expectations living in America as American Christians, and it’s very subtle and we all have it. And the expectation goes like this, “I love God, I’m following God, I’m obeying God, I’m doing what I believe You want me to do, and as far as I know there’s not any big sin in my life. So, when I do good, Lord, life will go well.”

And we have experienced that for decades and decades and decades. And so, we unconsciously think that when something bad happens or it’s difficult or we are criticized or circumstances change, either, “God, You let me down,” or, “What is wrong?”

Notice your next outline point is that hostility to the gospel, the Church, and Christians is normal. Would you underline “normal”? When I go to China, they know that. When I go to Yemen, they know that. And I’ve been all around the world; they know that. We don’t know that.

According to Jesus, on His last night, He says, “I have told you this,” John 16, “so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Paul would say, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus,” this is a promise, by the way, “will suffer persecution.” The apostle Peter would say, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through as if something strange were happening to you.”

What we are experiencing now is what Christians for the last couple millennia and mostly around the world have always experienced. And so, here’s my question for you. How are you responding to hostility? It’s pretty mild in general, but just in your thoughts first. What kind of thoughts are in your mind as you see a lot of stuff happening?
Then second, what about your attitudes? And then thirdly, what about your action?

I don’t think it would be a big research project to look at your news feed or maybe click to fellow people that you know are Christians and look back over the last six months or so and listen to the anger, the bitterness, the resentment, the fear, the anxiety, the blaming, the throwing of grenades to different groups both inside the Church and outside the Church.

Here’s what we need to understand. Fear will paralyze us and bitterness will destroy our soul. It’ll harden your heart.

The lens is, “What about me and my way and our thinking?” Don’t you understand? That’s exactly what the Pharisees did. That’s exactly what the zealots did. That’s exactly what the early disciples did. For all Peter’s great qualities and, oh, he’s got faith and, “Lord, if it’s You, tell me and I’ll go walk out on the water.” When push came to shove and Jesus said, The pathway to changing the course of world history and saving people and revealing the Father and bringing God’s presence to its culmination is Me dying and I’m going to the cross; in three days I will be raised again. “Forbid it, Lord,” Peter said, remember?

You talk about conflict. Can you imagine the Son of God locking eyes with you and saying, “Get behind me, Satan!”? Why? He explained. “You don’t have the things of God.” You don’t have God’s agenda as number one. Peter, you’ve got your agenda. You want a Savior, you want a Messiah on your terms to overturn Rome. You want a better life; you want peace and prosperity. “I didn’t come to give peace, I came to bring a,” do you remember? “a sword.”

Jesus is the most radical person who has ever walked: fully man, fully God. I think the writer of Proverbs, with all his wisdom in Proverbs 4:23, you might jot it down. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the issues of life.”

Your words, your attitudes, your love, or your anger, your bitterness, or your resentment, it all flows from your heart. And in big disruptions like this, if fear or anxiety or hostility, even subtly becomes the lens through which you look at life and circumstances and people, there’s not going to be any unity. We will not respond correctly.

In fact, as you look at page two, I’d like to suggest that as we enter into a life that is far more like the first century than the last, that we are called to bring healing, not hostility.

Listen to – this is the command of Jesus. The first couple verses are a context, because He is going to deal with some incorrect perceptions of Old Testament law who misses the spirit. And then He’s going to talk about Roman abuse. And if you were living in the first century and you read the first two or three verses, you would just say, “Dude, are You kidding me? You can’t really expect this. Don’t You understand what they are doing to us? Don’t You understand how unjust this is? Don’t You understand how unfair?” And Jesus would say, I fully understand. And I am going to ask you to follow Me to the cross. I’m going to ask you to die the same way that I died, because after I died, I rose from the dead. And if you will die with Me, you will have that same kind of power, because My agenda is nothing more or nothing less than absolutely changing the whole course of world history, and bringing people to a saving knowledge, to restore the presence of God in people’s lives.