Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:43-44

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I don’t mind owning the fact that I am pretty deeply influenced by the thinking, preaching, and writing of Andy Stanley. I’ve been engaging with his teaching for every bit of the last twelve years for sure and maybe longer, so I guess that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. And I really don’t listen to any other preaching. I should, but I only have time for so many podcasts. In any event, Andy has a new book out that I am just nearly through reading. It’s called Not In It to Win It: Why Choosing Sides Sidelines the Church. It’s brought together several ideas that have been cooking in the back of my mind for several weeks into one well-argued package. Let me process some of this with you.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 12:15-17

“But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.’ They brought a coin. ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ he asked them. ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Jesus told them, ‘Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were utterly amazed at him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

During it’s seven-season run, I loved the show West Wing. Now, I know its cultural and political positions are pretty decidedly different from those I personally hold now, but the writing and acting were both terrific. When Aaron Sorkin wasn’t trying to be preachy (which wasn’t much, but still…), he was a master of witty dialogue and developing solid relationships among a whole cast of characters. All the same, the show was designed to highlight a certain political and cultural worldview (which, interestingly, would find no quarter in today’s political scene with its ever-shrinking center), and Sorkin’s preferred method of doing so was to have one character deliver a perfectly-timed monologue in such a way to make the other side look absolutely silly and defeated and to render all counterarguments moot. Well, I’m not sure how much time Sorkin has spent reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, but if he has, he must have been pretty impressed as Jesus did the same kind of thing with a remarkable frequency. Let’s take a look this morning at one of the more well-known of Jesus’ “Sorkin moments.”

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Morning Musing: Ephesians 6:12

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.”‬ ‭(CSB‬‬ – Read the chapter)

Who is your enemy? Now maybe you’re saintly enough that your response to that question is some version of, “I don’t have any enemies.” Granting that, who comes closest to that status for you? If you’re at all like a growing segment of our society, the answer just may be the people on the other side of the political aisle. In our hyper-partisan times, political rivals are among the most bitter enemies we have. The latest entry from Marvel Studios offers an important counterpoint to this decidedly unhealthy trend. Let’s talk today about Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

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Digging in Deeper: Galatians 3:27-29

“For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, since you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Well, that was…anticlimactic. I stayed up until about 11:30 last night watching returns come in from the election and this morning when I checked back in I knew basically nothing more than I did when I went to bed. At least, that’s the case in terms of the results of the election. What I did have confirmed for me is something that I already knew. If you’ll stay with me for a few minutes, I’ll tell you about what that is.

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