Us and Them

In the last two weeks, we have talked about judgmentalism and hypocrisy. Those are two things of which the church is often accused, but which Jesus didn’t like either. This overlap has some really important implications. This morning, we’re talking about one more thing Jesus and the culture agree isn’t good: discrimination. With another look at something else Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, let’s talk about why the Christian worldview contains the only effect antidote to discrimination the world has ever seen.

Us and Them

Words are interesting things. They are powerful, to be sure, but they are often funny. For instance, one word can mean two different things. Without an accompanying context, you can’t know which definition is intended. For instance, take the word, “bat.” It’s either a small, winged mammal that eats bugs and makes for a creepy Halloween decoration, or it’s a long piece of wood or metal used for hitting a ball. Or how about the word, “lie.” Used in one context, and you could be talking about taking a nap, but in another context, you’re probably trying to get out of trouble. Sometimes a word can be pronounced two different ways by emphasizing different syllables, and each pronunciation has its own, unique meaning. There’s lead and lead, object and object, minute and minute, refuse and refuse, and so on and so forth. There are still other words with two different meanings that are actually opposites of one another. For instance, you could clip something in half, meaning you are separating it into two pieces, but you can also clip two pieces of paper together. If you seed your yard, you are putting seeds into the ground, but if you seed a watermelon, you are doing just the opposite. The word strike could mean hitting something or missing something. It’s all very complicated. 

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 22:37-40

“He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Confession time: I’m not much for trying new things. New things bring the possibility of failure, and I’m not much for failure. I’m more of a habit and routine guy. Once I find something that works – which, admittedly requires trying new things at least occasionally – you’re going to find me generally pretty difficult to break from it to try something else. Of course, new things also bring the possibility of experiencing success you wouldn’t otherwise experience. On the whole, it can pay big to step out and try something new. Let’s talk this morning about the latest new thing from Marvel Studios: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:30-31

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being marched around by the Israelites for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been given a request or an instruction that simply didn’t make sense? Did you do it? If you did, why did you do it? There is probably one of a couple of reasons behind your acquiescence. One is simply that the person asking possessed a sufficient authority over you that you felt compelled to do it. The other reason is that even though you don’t understand it, you have enough trust in the person asking to do it anyway. Another way to put this second reason is that you have faith in the person. In the last bit of Hebrews 11 before the big finale (which we’ll talk about next week, Lord willing, and then on to chapter 12), the author mentions two of the stranger stories in the Old Testament. Let’s talk this morning about trusting God even when it doesn’t make sense.

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Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 11:27-29

“By faith he left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king’s anger, for Moses persevered as one who sees him who is invisible. By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites. By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We’ve been in deep lately as we have been talking about living by faith and what that looks like practically in our lives. This morning, let’s lighten things up a bit. Instead of focusing on a single example, we are going to let the author lead us through a potpourri of examples from Moses’ life. These three examples don’t have a whole lot to do with one another except that they are all from Moses’ life. But I think there’s a lesson in each for us if we’ll listen for it. So, lean in with me this morning as we talk some more about faith.

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Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 11:23-26

By faith Moses, after he was born, was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn’t fear the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin. For he considered reproach for the sake of Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking ahead to the reward.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We have been talking about living by faith for a few weeks now. The author of Hebrews, after defining faith for us (living out a belief in something we can’t see on the word of someone we trust), shifted gears to offering one example after another of what it looks like to live by faith. Essentially, it looks like doing what God says instead of what we or the world around us wants. In most circumstances, even in hostile-to-Christianity locations, this doesn’t involve anything terribly controversial. It is just denying ourselves in favor of the righteousness of Christ and loving our neighbors like Jesus loved us. But sometimes, living by faith can take us into more challenging territory. Instead of positively doing something, it involves actively not doing something or else rejecting opportunities we are expected to take. With some examples from the story of Moses, let’s talk today about a couple of the challenges of living by faith.

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