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What Now? What Next?
Making Disciples in a Disrupted World
In the day-to-day reality of increasing upheaval and discord, how are Christians to think and behave? How do we anchor our conversations and attitudes when everything in us wants to either retreat or lash out in anger? In this new series, Chip provides a biblical path to allowing Christ to reign in us and work through us no matter what's going on.More from this series
I want you to really think about, what is it that has caused you to be angry the most? What picture in your mind, what experience, what group of people, what is it? And this is very, very important for what will happen the rest of our time together. I want you to just pause for a moment, go ahead and shut your eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind and we have all had conversations and we have all been really ticked off. I want you to really get in touch with what is that for you? Suspend judgment for just a minute, just true, false, whatever. Things have made you mad. There are people or events of injustices or things that are just wrong and you’re passionate. And you have talked about it and you’ve had coffee over it and you have probably posted about it.
Lord, as we think about what makes us angry, would You now teach us how to respond in ways that build Your kingdom? In Christ’s name.
I’m going to keep reminding you of what the goal is. If you’ll look on your notes, it’s to help followers of Jesus determine God’s will and your priorities for your life and your ministry in these rapidly changing and this challenging world that we live in.
Making and becoming disciples today in this environment means that we have to focus on Christ rather than causes as the top priority. There’s very, very important causes, but our focus has got to get back to who Jesus is and our first love. Us personally being willing to be all in to do whatever He wants.
Second, it has a response. And the response has to be healing, not hostility. There’s a lot of anger. There’s a lot of hostility. We as believers have to be agents of healing.
And third, we have to prioritize relationships over real estate. And what I meant by that is instead of thinking that things are going to happen just in places or success is building buildings or doing things or things that you can measure, Jesus always started with relationships: close in in the family, brothers and sisters, friends, how you treat the kind of people you invite into your world that are really different than you.
And the context of this series I’m going to keep reminding you is there are three important things to remember.
Three things to remember. Number one, you are living in one of the rarest moments in all of human history. Think of it. It was a hundred years ago there was a global pandemic. You live in a technological explosion. We have artificial intelligence that is changing things super rapidly. We have corporations that are far more powerful than whole countries. We have the breaking down of the institution of marriage, the family. We have division in the Church, we live in a polarized world, especially in America racially, we have confusion about gender, ideologies that are contrary to everything you believe are surfacing here and around the world.
At the same time, there’s a global movement of God across Africa, Southeast Asia, parts of India where God is working like never before. Tens of thousands of people are coming to know Christ daily across the world.
You’re in a really rare moment of history. And everything is getting shaken. And I believe God is going to shake everything except that which cannot be shaken.
Second, God’s biggest moments have been birthed in seasons of dire distress. Think of that. When Jesus came, the world was in dire distress. When He tapped Noah on the shoulder and said, “Boy, we’ve got to have a plan B,” the world was in dire distress. Moses, oh my, this bondage. The world is in dire distress. Gideon! Man, everything is terrible, I don’t, you don’t feel adequate but dire distress. Esther! They are going to wipe out every Jew on the face of the earth; it’s in dire distress. Nehemiah: God’s agenda is completely in the pit. I know you’re a business guy, I know you don’t feel adequate, you don’t have formal theological training, but you’ve got position, you’ve got power, and wealth. And I want you to move and get your heart dislocated into My agenda. And the whole history of Israel turned around. And we could go on – the New Testament. And whether it was a Martin Luther or a Huss or a Tyndale or the Moravians or a Wesley or an Awakening – every major movement of God happens in these lulls of dire distress. You’re living in a time that is rare in all of world history, God’s biggest movements are birthed in times like this.
And third, God’s pattern of deliverance provides direction and hope. If you’ve got your notes, circle “direction” and circle “hope”. If you would study all those people that I just said something about, you would find they have some extraordinary things in common. They are ordinary, often helpless, often powerless. They usually feel desperately inadequate. “I could never do this.” “I’m just a fisherman.” “I’m just a…” “If I do this, I might get killed.”
All throughout history, scripturally, and in Church history, God finds ordinary people who are humble, dependent, desperate, but they believe, and they take a risk, and they step out, and they make great sacrifice. And then what God does is so amazing, no one is ever confused about who should get the credit. It’s just the way He works.
Paul would even say in the first chapter 1 Corinthians that God uses the things that are not to confound the things that are. He would say to that church, “Not many of you were wise,” not many of you were the super intelligent.
Those are three important things to remember and then here’s one important thing to never forget. Major disruptions challenge the status quo and result in indignation. That’s a mouthful, right? We throw words around.
Look in your notes. I have given you the actual definitions. A major disruption. A disruption is a disturbance or problem, which interrupts an event, an activity, or a process. In our case, a whole world.
You’re living in a moment where the whole world got disrupted. And when that happens, the status quo gets challenged. The status quo is the existing state of affairs, especially regarding that which is social or political. And it’s getting flipped around like never before.
And finally, it always results in indignation. Indignation is anger or annoyance by what is perceived as unfair treatment. And, see, the interesting thing, if we could be objective for a moment, the things that made you so angry, other people from different backgrounds were rejoicing about thinking justice is finally coming.
There is such anger and indignation, depending on your lens, your perspective. The Left is angry and the Right is angry. Conservatives and Progressives are angry. Church people or non-church people. Atheists are angry. People that are in power are angry. People that are not in power are angry. You’re living in a world with just, it’s flooded with indignation.
And I want you to get that, because here’s what I want you to see next. Let’s look at the greatest disruption that ever happened in the world. How was Jesus disruptive, kingdom-focused? Remember, that’s why He came. “The kingdom of God is among you.” His healing ministry and His relational priorities – how were they received?
So, He disrupts the whole world, the status quo is going to get shaken, people are going to get angry from all kind of backgrounds, and I want to walk you through something and I found myself each time kind of going through a biblical theology, a lens that is really big, because I don’t think we read the Bible that way anymore. We have gotten into, “Well, I read my chapter, very short chapter of Daily Bread,” or, “I read two paragraphs of Jesus Calling,” or, “I opened YouVersion and that’s my verse for the day!”
But you don’t think theologically, you don’t think biblically, you don’t think big picture. We haven’t developed a lens in which we take all of what we know of Scripture and life and what Jesus said and look at it and say, “This is the reality. How do I filter all that’s coming?”
So, I don’t expect you, I’m not going to go through all the passages, but I have given them to you. If you really want to learn something, I always say get a cup of coffee, because I love a cup of coffee. To me, a great day is you put your feet up, French roast, open my Bible, “Lord, speak.”
And what I want you to do is I’m just going to walk through, very briefly, how did people respond? Get this. This is God, this is God, but this is Jesus. This is love incarnate; this is light. Everything He is going to do, He’s going to do the right thing for the right reason in the right way to love the most people.
And so, how did different groups of people respond to Him? See, what I want you to get is that what we are seeing is very normal human nature. So, I just went through, you see it flowing through the gospels. Are you ready for this?
How did His family respond? I have given you the passages there in Mark 3 and John 7.
His mother and His brothers’ response to His ministry and growing popularity and all the demands on His life assumed that He was emotionally and mentally unstable and they went to rescue Him. And when they went to rescue Him, He innovated. They said, “Oh, Your mom, Your brothers, they are here.” That’s the first priority, right? Right? Right?
And He paused, and He said, “Who are My mothers and My brothers?” And then He looked at His disciples and He says, “Everyone who does the will of God, these are My mothers, my brothers, my sisters.” In other words, family relationship is bigger than blood.
It’s alignment with God and His purposes and the purposes of Jesus. In John 7, His brothers say, “Hey, if You think You’re such big stuff,” now, this is the Chip Ingram version of some of this, right? You’re not going to read “big stuff,” like, where’s that at?
But basically, they said, “You think You’re such big stuff, why don’t You go to the festival and show off all Your miracles, then they will believe.” He goes, “No, you guys go ahead.” He later goes. But the text says, “Because His brothers did not believe in Him.” What about His hometown?
The story picks up in Luke chapter 4. So, He comes to His hometown and He has been preaching in various synagogues and He just comes out of the temptation, He’s filled with the Spirit, He goes to a number of different small little cites, He comes to His hometown, they give Him the scroll, He opens up Isaiah, He reads from the place about the telling of the coming of the Messiah, that the good news will be preached to the poor, the lame are going to walk, the blind are going to see.
And then He closes it and then when a rabbi sat down, it meant he was speaking with authority. And He sits down and says, “In your hearing this has been fulfilled.” Translation, “What I just read about the Messiah, you’re looking at Him.”
And it’s very interesting, this is so much like us, they were so amazed at His words, and then they started to say to one another, “Who is this? Joseph’s son.” Translation, “Who do You think You are?” I mean, “You grew up here.” He’s in His hometown. Like, “Who do You think You are?” His family was really saying, “Who do You think You are? I think You’ve kind of lost it.”
And then He attacks their nationalism. He says, “Who do you think I am?” He said, “A prophet isn’t honored in his hometown?” He innovates their lens and view of Him from Joseph, the boy who grew up here, to a prophet. And you’re not honored. And then He sort of goes for the jugular. And He said, “There were a lot of widows during the time of Elisha, but none of the widows in Israel were helped and fed, but Elisha did this to this widow in this place who was a non-Jew. And there were a lot of lepers in the day and none of them were healed except Naaman from Syria.”
And it says, “They were,” they just thought he was amazing, now they are, are you ready? Indignation. “They are enraged; and His hometown takes Him out to the edge of a hill and they were going to push Him off and He comes back through them.”
What I want you to see is the indignation that happens and the response even to truth and life and love. The religious establishment basically says, if you read from Luke 5 on through, up through Luke 6, “Who do You think You are? You didn’t go to our theological school.” And so, a man is lowered down who is a paralytic and Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven,” and they are enraged. “Who do You think You are? Only God can forgive sins.”
And the innovation is: I want you to get a whole new view about where authority comes from. And He says, “Well, the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins. Which is easier?” You know the stories, right? Take your pallet and walk.”
And each time He’ll heal, He’ll touch. And they say, “Who do You think You are? What are You trying to do?” What is He doing? He completely upends the status quo. He didn’t attend their school, He challenges their traditions, He challenges their authority.
Even the disciples. The longest time ever recorded in Jesus’ ministry is Mark chapter 1. It’s a great chapter and Mark is written to a Roman audience, so there’s not a lot of details. It’s bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. The word “immediately” I think happens, like, forty-five times in that gospel. It’s (snaps). Come on, man! Here we go!
And it’s a very long day of ministry and at the end of a long day He teaches and then Peter’s mother-in-law is sick; He heals her. People hear about it, they come from everywhere, and you get this picture of He is up late into the night casting out demons. And the text says, “And everyone who came was healed.”
And so, everyone went to bed exhausted. The disciples are going, “We, this is unbelievable, man. We thought He was, we thought He was the Messiah. He is the rock star.”
And so, everyone goes to bed and then, verse 35 says, “A great while before dawn, Jesus awoke and went out to a lonely place.” And I think He had, because He was fully human, He had to deal with all the temptations that we do. And He had to remember: This is why I came. He’s getting the press; He is the most amazing.
And then it says, “His disciples came to Him and said, ‘Hey, You need to come back. The crowds are swelling. You thought last night was great? It’s going to be better!’” In other words, we are the inside groupies, You’re the rock star, let’s get it going!”
He says, “No, I’m not going back.” Unfulfilled expectation to the disciples. “I must,” in Greek there is a little word called dei, D-E-I. It’s a day of necessity. In other words, it has the idea of: this unequivocally has to happen.
He says, “I must go to other towns and preach the gospel of the Kingdom, for this is why I came.”
A little bit later, the ministry continues and you know the story. It’s in Mark chapter 8. The book of Mark goes like this: This is who He is, “Follow Me and I’m going to take you. You’ll be fishers of men.” And in Mark chapter 8 is the turn. And the turn is, see, all the disciples thought, “Messiah.” The Messiah is going to come; He’s going to make things right, right?
Here’s how He’s going to make things right: He’s going to take down Rome, Israel is going to be reestablished, and we are going to be the inside guys, and we are going to sit on thrones with Him. This is a great deal.
And in Mark chapter 8, He asks who people say they are. And you know the story. And Peter gets it right, “You’re the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And from that point on, the text says, He began to tell them how He must suffer before the religious leaders and the scribes and the Pharisees, and die, and on the third day, be raised again.
And the guy that got it right took Him aside and basically said, “Lord, never! Don’t, what are You thinking?” Do you understand what was happening there? The prosperity gospel isn’t new. Basically, Peter goes, “No, no, no. I signed up for a crown, not a cross.” And Jesus said, “If you’re going to follow Me, get behind me, Satan!” Do you remember why? “Get behind Me, Satan! You don’t have on your mind and on your heart the things of God, you have it on the things of men.” You followed Me and you have made sacrifices, but in your heart of hearts, it was about your way, your agenda, your prosperity, your life, what you want. And He goes, “No, no, no. You’re going to follow Me, you’re going to be like a grain of wheat that falls into the earth and dies,” because to change the violence and the chaos and the hurt and the pain that is happening in this fallen world requires supernatural power.
And supernatural power requires resurrection power. And there is never a resurrection unless there is death. And He invites them not to get their crown now, He invites them to go with Him to the cross, to lay down their life the way He lays down His life so that He could fill them with the kind of power that they would do the very things that He has done.
All I want you to see is over and over and over, every single person in His life responds in some way with indignation and anger. In fact, He basically says to His family, “There’s a new family.” He says to His hometown, “I’m a prophet.” He says to the disciples that, “I am the priest between God and man and it’s a new agenda,” and a priest is going to lay down His life.
And then when He gets to the government and the establishment, what, remember Pilate? “Who is this nobody?” He’s a political hot potato. “Maybe we can use Him.”
And he sends Him over to another religious leader.
And then when push came to shove, “We’ll kill Him. Yes, I know He is innocent.” But do you remember the conversation? “So, are You a King?” “Yes. Yes. And I am truth. And anyone who obeys the truth follows Me.”
He loved, He was perfect, He was light, He was truth, He fulfilled the prophecies, He healed thousands of people. And the response that He got from His family, from His disciples, from the government, from His hometown was indignation, anger. Why? He rocked the boat.
And God is allowing, God didn’t cause the pandemic, but God uses everything. Don’t you quote that when a good friend gets cancer? When there’s a car wreck that you don’t understand, don’t you quote it to one another? “For we know that God works all things together for the good, to them that love God, according to His purposes.” And we always stop there.
And the way we have retranslated that is He is going to work it out good for you, something good is going to come out of this. And we have a whole generation of people that are disillusioned with Jesus and Christianity, because they don’t see the good, because it has been retranslated as the good for you and your life working out and you’ll be happy and you’ll have a great marriage and if you wanted to have kids and couldn’t, then just follow Jesus and He will give you kids. And if you don’t have money, just follow Jesus and He’ll give you money. And if you have bad health, just follow Jesus.
But verse 29 doesn’t say He’ll work out for good in terms of your circumstance. It says the good will be through the difficulty and the pain and the hurt in a fallen little world in this miniscule thing called “time”, He will conform you to the image and make you more like Jesus, preparing you to use you in ways where you experience Him and are used by Him. And that is the good that it will produce.
Jesus never promised you’re going to be healthy, wealthy, and happy. He promised you could have peace in the midst of storms, you can have joy in the midst of circumstances, you can have purpose in the midst of chaos. And there is an eternity waiting for you, and as you follow Him, as you follow Him, all the things that the world promises that never delivers, He delivers, “The kingdom of God is here.” And it’s among us, and it’s Him. And it’s radical.
When I read the Bible, my first reaction is stuff like this, “I can’t believe His family did that. I can’t believe those disciples are like that. I can’t believe those religious leaders. I mean, He told the guy, “Get up and walk. I mean, man, their head was in the sand!” Right? And I somehow read the Bible like I am on the good team and everybody else…
And when I’m a lot more honest, I realize I’m a lot more like His family, I have been angry.
Anybody else been angry this last year? I have been livid. I have been ticked off. Now, I have wisely not posted where I’ve been ticked off. And I think some of my ticked off is righteous anger and it’s good and I think God says, Way to go, Chip! It’ll motivate you to do some good.
And I think some of it is just downright sinful and selfish, because there’s some stuff that I want my way, there’s some stuff I think is important. And it looks like it’s not going to be that way. And I just have to remember, Okay, God didn’t promise it would be that way.
So, here’s the question: What was Jesus’ attitude and what was His response to rejection, indignation, unfulfilled expectations, and injustice? I am a master of long sentences with lots of words. But I do want you to know I choose them carefully. And you know where this is going, don’t you?
If this is Jesus’ response to rejection, it needs to be mine. If this is Jesus’ response to indignation that He experienced, it needs to be mine. If this is His response to the unfulfilled expectations of people who say, “I thought You were going to do this for me,” anybody have some of that going on?
Like, in this season, after all that you have done for certain people and how you have tried to help people and you’ve gotten stuff thrown back in your face, and then just some of the injustice that is so terrible.
Well, here’s His premise. Sandwiched in between the indignation and sandwiched in the major innovation, Jesus tells us what He’s going to do and why He’s going to do it.
You have heard it quoted before, but I’m not sure you have heard it quoted in context. His response to the indignation and rejection is, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins, otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.” Right?
Just in the day, right? If you’ve got new wine, it’s going to ferment. If you put it in old wineskins, as it ferments, it will burst them. And you’ll lose the wine and the wineskins.
So, here’s the principle, “But new wine,” new teaching, new method, new kingdom, disruption, future, the way life is supposed to be rather than the way it is, “new wine,” Jesus’ new wine, “must be put into fresh wineskins.” New containers, new ideas, new methods.
“And no one, after drinking the old wine wants new, for he says, ‘The old wine is fine.’” Translation, when you begin to innovate, when you begin to respond in ways the way Jesus did, Jesus said, “Even though it’s new wine, people get so accustomed, they would rather have the old, the tradition, the “this-makes-me-comfortable”, even if they know it’s not the right wine, or the new wine, or the best wine.
He’s making a commentary on human nature. Are you ready for this? We are all this way. Now, some of you like change a lot more than other people. But there is some level where we, I am one of those people that, I really like change until it affects me, right?
And we live in a world of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and startups and we like change, yeah! Man, let’s go! Way different than a lot. But we don’t like it when we see some of those changes and the government makes a new law that caps that, or we can’t do this, or someone says that, or we don’t get funded, or… Or we don’t like change that affects our family or our rhythm or our comfort and life.
And so, what I want you to see is what Jesus’ practice is.
First of all, and again, I can’t go through all the passages, but I have given them to you so that, with your cup of tea, someone told me once, “Would you stop talking about coffee? I don’t drink coffee.” And I say to them, “There’s still help for you.” But herbal tea is great.
First of all, Jesus challenges the status quo and what He does in Luke chapter 6, is He goes for the jugular. If you were very familiar with Judaism at that time, in fact, even to this time, if there is a religious marker, those people that are in and those people who are out, the symbol is the Sabbath.
You can go to Israel to this day, and completely pagan Jews, they honor the Sabbath.
They figure ways. They pre-program all the elevators in Israel so you don’t have to push a button and violate the Sabbath. So, you get on the, and it goes by itself. And they preheat everything, and they do all kind of amazing things. But it’s the external thing. And so, what does Jesus do? He goes with His disciples and they are walking in the fields and He is purposefully, don’t miss it, He is purposefully, He’s going to poke them in the eye. He goes, “You think it’s all about keeping these external rules that make you right with God. I’m going to take the biggest external rule that you have, I’m going to poke you in the eye, I’m going to challenge the status quo.”
And He does that and then they get all upset. And then the text, right, the text flows right from that one to, and He’s in the Sabbath and there’s a man with a withered hand, and they are there thinking, Is He going to heal on the Sabbath? Like, what could be worse? Helping someone on the Sabbath. Wow. Right? The logic of it is amazing.
And a cross reference says, “Jesus looked at them with disdain because they were so blind.” And He brings the man up, and remember? “Open your hand.” He is healed. And let me just, let me just read for you, this is the response of religious leaders who know the law, who have major portions of the Old Testament [memorized], who fast a couple times a week.
“And Jesus says, ‘Hold out your hand,’ so the man held out his hand, and it was restored. At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage, and they began to discuss what to do with Him,” namely, kill Him.
And then notice, “One day soon afterward, Jesus went up onto a mountain to pray,” and what does He do? He innovates. And He says, “I came in hopes that the religious establishment would receive its Messiah.” And what you’re going to watch is a series of innovations. So, there’s a new vision. He grabs a new group, prays all night, calls them disciples, and then He does this miraculous thing where crowds come. And the text is very clear. They come from Jerusalem and as far out as you can look on the map. And it says specifically they are all healed. And then He goes up onto a mountain and He preaches the Sermon on the Mount and basically says, “There’s a whole new vision. This is where we are going.”
After that, it opens up, He finishes the Sermon on the Mount, Luke 7, there’s innovative compassion. We don’t get this, because we don’t have the cultural bias. He heals a Roman soldier’s slave. They hated the Romans! And He goes, “No, no, no, this new vision, it’s not, you don’t get to choose Black, white, Asian, Indian, rich, poor. No, no, no, no. In this Kingdom, there’s a new vision.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are you when you are persecuted for My name’s sake.” This is a new Kingdom with a new way. And there’s going to be compassion for everyone.
And then there’s innovative action. He says, “You know what? Let’s make sure, this isn’t about talk, this isn’t about a new ideology.” So, a widow comes by and you could almost see Him taking the big miracles that happened before. Elijah did this one; Elisha did that one. And He is going to go and mimic each of them to know that one greater than them is here, and He raises this boy from the dead.
He goes, “This new Kingdom is power!” This is power! This isn’t about talk, this isn’t about coming to religious services, this isn’t evaluating, “Well, so-and-so talked a little bit too long and I wish we’d do a little bit more hymns, and that chorus was okay, but the drums were a little bit loud, and let’s go to lunch.” You know, those big things that we talk about in church. He says, “No.”
And then His teaching. His teaching wasn’t like, “Okay, you’ve got to stay in the synagogue.” He starts teaching and tells stories and then He tells parables, and then He does Q&As, and then, oh, by the way, Let’s pause and let’s heal someone over here, and let’s let people challenge Me.
And let’s do this out in the marketplace. Let’s invade what is happening in the world. Let’s not have a little place where we are asking everyone to come here. I’m going to go out and we are going to live, and we are going to love, and we are going to help. And the world is being transformed.
And then He innovates with His teaching and then His methods. And the world is changing. It’s internal, not external. It’s His Kingdom, not your kingdom. It’s for all people, not some people. It’s about power, it’s not about talk. And now it’s not about head knowledge. It’s putting aside all of our prejudice and it’s living it out.
So, what is our attitude to be? This is where we are coming to. It’s not long, it’s not hard to understand, it’s just very challenging to apply. Our attitude – we have talked about our focus, our response, and our priorities. Our attitude is innovation, not indignation.
The command is in Romans chapter 12, verses 14 through 16. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.” I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up knowing what it meant to bless.
It means to want the favor and the blessing and the good things of God to be upon another person. First and foremost, it means you want salvation for them, eternal salvation. Second, it means, notice it says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.”
And the first step is always forgiveness. That’s the command.
I want you to think about that person that hurt you the most, that made you the most angry in the last year. See, this isn’t a lecture, people.
This is the birthing of a movement of God, if we will allow it. And God says to each one of us – me – I want you to bless those people you’re ticked off at. I want you to get them really clear in your mind. I want you to feel how angry you have been. And then to bless, actually, is a prayer. You begin praying, see, the only thing that can change your heart is you begin to pray for people what God wants for them. Lord, would You bring them to know You? Would You bring them to know You? Would You bring them to know You?
But the second part is you can’t pray that with a heart that is hardened. Lord, would You [help me] forgive them? By the way, forgiveness is a whole other message. But forgiveness is a three-step process. It’s a decision, it’s a process, and then it’s a culmination. To forgive is a choice. I release you from the payback that I want you to have for the wrong that I think you have done. The process begins, I begin to pray for them. I never take a Lord’s Supper unless I pray for them. I pray for them daily. And it starts out with, “Change them, change them, change them, change them, change them.”
And then He will soften your heart. And you’ll say, “God, give them a great marriage.”
“Lord, some of the, they need a good job.” And you’ll actually start praying like you care about them. And as you pray and do that, it may take six months or a year, in my case, it took over two years once when I was betrayed.
And when you hear something good about the people that you have desperately hated or who betrayed you or you think is wrong, and when you hear something good about them, and you can honestly rejoice you’ll know - they are forgiven.
And by the way, it’s supernatural. And you say, “Well, how would that really work?” Notice the instructions. “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”
See, the context is, at verse 14, Romans 12 completely changes and it answers the question: how do you respond at the evil aimed at you? “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Can you imagine what would happen if a white policeman saw the hurt of a Black radical that maybe threw rocks at him, and visited him in the hospital? Can you imagine what would happen to a policeman after being injured in a riot, to have a Black radical come and say, “Man, I’m so sorry and I had no idea that – the intent was never for that.” Can you imagine what would happen if the people that you disagree with politically and ideologically, if you got to know them? That when they had a miscarriage, that you would go and pray with them? When they were hurting financially, you’d say, “I know we come from different worlds, and you may not allow me, but I’d like to help out in this.”
That’s what it’s saying. That’s what the early Church did. They walked arm in arm into stadiums, “Oh Lord, thank You for the privilege of suffering. Will You please forgive these people?” as they would be thrown to wild animals.
Nero would actually impale Christians on poles and use them for his cocktail parties and then set them aflame. And they would sing as they would be burning to death, forgiving their captors. That’s the Christianity that changed the world. It wasn’t a Christianity of they went to meetings, gave a little bit of money, went on a mission trip every two or three years, and tried to be nice people.
Jesus was a revolutionary; He started a revolution. Anytime it gets to be religion, it dies.
And then finally, there’s a warning. When you start to take steps like that, he says, “Be of the same mind toward one another.” Who is the “one another” here? It’s not fellow Christians.
Basically, it’s try and think – can you imagine if you could ponder from instead of how you live, you know, I live in a very unique world where one my closest friends in Charlotte is the pastor, a Black pastor, of a very, very significant church. And Charlotte has been through just utter hell in some of the racial things that have happened, and people being killed.
We have grieved together. And then I have a lady on our staff whose husband is a police officer in Columbus. And he is finding himself in situations being called to go around the country and put on combat gear. And it’s a bizarre world. And the hate just keeps flowing. It doesn’t stop unless someone says, “I am not that. There can’t be an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. We can disagree; we can look at things differently.”
But be of the same mind. Try to understand where a person is coming from and what they have experienced and how they see life. You don’t have to agree. But when there’s no empathy, there is no hope of reconciliation.
And then the other warning is very clear. He says, “Don’t be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.” Don’t somehow think, Oh, we are going to be the Christians and we are going to solve things. And these people don’t really get it, but we do. And we are a little bit better.
He said, “That’s self-righteousness, that’s ugly.” “Do not be wise in your own estimation. There is no room for superiority, self-righteousness, no class mindset, there can’t be an “us” or “them”, there can’t be, “It’s their problem.” There can’t be a denial of our own need.
Some of you are thinking, This guy better wrap this up pretty quickly, because it’s getting a little heavy.
Summary: God is using the now, this moment in history, to shake His world. He always starts with shaking HIs own people. Most of His own people will respond with indignation and will protect their turf, their view, their rights, and their power.
That’s what will happen with most of Christendom in the United States. But there will be some, and I’m praying it’s us, and there will be pockets all over the U.S. and pockets all over the world. There will be some who understand the times and know that following Christ, we must innovate. We must have a new vision of the Kingdom, not how God can fix America or make our personal lives work out.
We need to innovate with compassion, and not just care about the people that look like us or think like us or agree with us. We need to innovate with action and replace a lot of words and a lot of going to meetings with a lot of specific help of real people. And we need to innovate with teaching that is fresh and life changing, and focuses on the everyday in every way, followers of Christ.
And then we need to innovate in our methods. Methods that connect the heart and the mind where we become followers that are saying, “24/7, three-sixty-five, Jesus, You lead, I’ll follow. P.S., Lord, I am scared to death. And thank You that You will give me everything I need. And I cannot do this alone.”
We respond with innovative ideas and thoughts and ways and attitudes that bring restoration and healing and life.
Lord, we are in desperate need of You, of Your grace, of the ability to see ourselves for where we really are instead of where we think we are. Lord, we need eyes to not condemn other people and judge them and assume that our view is completely right and that we have nothing to learn.
And, Lord, there is evil and it means taking a stand and not being doormats and being strong, but, Lord, Your strength was with meekness, not weakness. It was with power under control. It was power submitted to the Father. It was power submitted to the Holy Spirit. You didn’t have to call, but You could have, angels down. You modeled for us that good is more powerful than evil. And so, we ask You now, in Jesus’ name, that You would help us apply that in our personal life. Amen.