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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And the Oscar Goes to…

This past Sunday morning we continued in our series, What Jesus Hated. This week we talked about the charge of hypocrisy. The church is often…and often fairly…accused of hypocrisy. The world hates hypocrisy…or at least professes to hating it. So did Jesus. In this next part of our series, we are looking at some hard words Jesus had for the religious hypocrites of His day and what those might mean for us. Thanks for reading and sharing.

And the Oscar Goes to…

I want you to think for just a minute about what is your favorite movie of all time. Actually, that may be a bit too difficult of a question to answer. If you’re like me, there are several films that could top your list, and it really depends on the day and your mood as to which one is currently at the top of the pile. Let’s narrow down our query just a bit. Think about what your favorite scene from a movie is. That’s different from an entire movie. It may be that you don’t really care for the movie itself, but that one scene absolutely captured your attention, your imagination, your very heart. Personally, my favorite movie is still probably Robinhood: Prince of Thieves. In terms of a scene that makes me want to jump up and shout with excitement, I don’t think there will ever be a better film moment than the scene just before the climactic battle against Thanos and his assembled forces in Avengers: Endgame when Captain America hears his friend, Falcon’s voice (for the first time in five years, no less) on the radio, telling him to “Watch his six,” just before portals start opening and everyone shows up for the battle. I honestly don’t believe Marvel will ever top that. But my favorite single scene of all time is the climax of Apollo 13 when they are watching for the space capsule’s parachutes to open, and then they suddenly do and Tom Hanks’ voice comes over the radio saying they are safe and sound. That makes me tear up every single time I watch it. 

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On Specks and Logs

The world hates judgmentalism. The idea that someone would loo kat another person, assess their behavior or lifestyle choices, and enforce some sort of negative relational or social consequence on them absolutely makes our blood boil. And there is no institution in the world more associated with this kind of thing than the church. But what if this all-too-common image of the church wasn’t actually rooted in reality? No, I’m not saying the church hasn’t ever been judgmental in the past (or present). It has. A lot. We’ve worked hard to earn our reputation. But what if that wasn’t how things were supposed to be? What if Jesus hated judgmentalism just as much as – or more than – the world does? What if several of the common negative perceptions of the church fell along about the same lines? This week we kicked off a brand-new teaching series looking at this very question. Join me as we look at what the world thinks, what Jesus said, and what this all means for the church.

On Specks and Logs

Used to be, if you wanted to be someone in this culture, you needed to be a part of a church. It didn’t really matter much which one, you just had to have your membership in their record books and attend just often enough that people knew your name and thought of you as a member. Of course, if you wanted to really achieve something significant in the culture, you had to be more than just a member. You had to be an active member. You needed to be on a key committee or two. Bonus points were definitely given if you were a deacon. You also needed to be fluent in the language of faith. Now, whether or not you actually believed any of this was an entirely separate matter. In fact, it was often better if you didn’t, because then you could keep your eyes on the prize you were seeking without worrying about God coming along and messing things up by calling you in a different direction. Whatever level you wanted to achieve, though, being a part of the church was the entrance gate. Today…not so much. 

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