Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26
How do you treat your enemy? Maybe you don’t have enemies, but you have people who cause trouble or do something to you first that makes you want to push them back. It is normal for us to get mad when people are mean. It is even very normal for us to want to do something back to them, to get even. Paul reminds us though that isn’t what Jesus taught us. God takes care of the getting them back part, our job is to do the opposite of the mean stuff– to meet them with kindness instead of getting even. To ask ourselves why they are being mean? What is happening for them? To show them kindness, and even if they don’t respond, it is okay, because God’s got it. There are times when us being kind to those who are mean will change the problem. The person will change, and the situation gets better. There are other times when, things don’t change, nothing softens their hearts and we don’t know or understand why they are so mean – and God promises to take care of that, but it is not our job to make the other person pay. It is our job to show them love. That is hard, especially when we are mad and hurt. So how do we do that. Sometimes we have to take a break and spend some time with God. Sometimes we have to ask an adult for help, or talk to a friend, and sometimes we have to walk away and come back to find a creative way to be kind to them. This week, when you get mad, I want you to pray for God to help you to be kind to the person making you mad. Let’s pray together right now for some extra help.
Last week we mentioned that we are called to be transformed by the renewing of our minds by the Holy Spirit on our discipleship walk. Paul continues this week to explain what that transformation looks like for people who allow themselves to be transformed.
Paul gives us a daunting list, but none of it is done on our own, all of it is done with grace, and by God. Paul reminds us to persevere in prayer on this journey. Just as our new members will soon renounce evil, injustice and oppression in all its forms, commit themselves to Christ, and repent of their sins – Paul reminds the Romans to do the same to resist evil and to hold fast to what is good.
In a day and age when it feels like we are bombarded with hate around every corner and every time we turn on the news - what do we do? When we are met with someone screaming something in our faces how do we meet this? Paul does not deny what our urge is – we want to heap burning coals on them – it is simply the very human thing to want to do. Paul names it and I think we see it more this year than any other. I have said many times that it feels like we are living in the year of the pressure cooker. I am not sure how many of you have every cooked with a pressure cooker, but it essentially increases the pressure in the system causing it to cook much faster and speed everything up. We canned chicken this past weekend. We took the chicken out of the canner and sat it on the counter after 90 minutes cooking and another 30 minutes for the pressure to come down. The chicken was boiling while sitting on our counter for several hours afterwards. No heat, nothing more added to it, just sitting there simmering on its on for hours sitting on a silicone pad. That is what happens to us when we let hate to take over, when we let it consumes us, when we let it have all our thoughts, when vengeance takes over. Even when the people or things aren’t around, we set there simmering letting vengeance rob us of our love. Paul saw that as a very real problem for both the people and the community. I can see that as a very real problem in this time any time I turn on a radio or television. It isn’t that there aren’t problems that need to be addressed, but when we meet evil with vengeance nothing good happens.
Paul reminds us that we cannot be overcome by evil, but we can only overcome evil by good. We need to let love be genuine, and to love one another, outdo one another in showing honor. What would happen if we walked around outdoing one another in showing honor? If every Christian in the world – everyone who claimed Christ walked around outdoing one another in showing honor and loving others? I don’t think we would be listening to reports about more shootings and riots and people crying out for justice and trying to defend sides….we would be loving one another trying to honestly understand what the other is thinking and feeling and how we could meet in the middle. We would have empathy and care about the person that we want to send those cutting barbs towards – or worse.
When we choose to follow Christ we consciously commit to a path of discipleship. We choose to set our own pride aside, and accept Christ as the head of our lives, knowing that we won’t always get it right, but we are going to try. That when we get it wrong, God’s grace is enough. Each of the six people before you and Craig and Sue joining us on Facebook have committed to a path of discipleship. Each of us agreed to dedicate time with Christ, to committing our time, talents and treasure to this community and mission, and wanting a living relationship with God. We don’t know what the answers are, but are willing to commit to a path of learning, love and discipleship in Christ. To overcome evil with love, to not retaliate, but to outdo one another in showing honor. I invite all of you to think of the vows about to be made and make them for yourselves once more or think about taking the disciple class for yourselves this coming year and deepen your relationship with Christ. This is a journey, not a destination. A pathway walking with God, allowing the Holly Spirit to change you a little at a time to be more like Jesus along the way….are you ready?
Music “Walk with Me” sung by the Sue and Craig Gamet, played by Mike Tyo.
Monday – Matthew 16:21-28
Tuesday – Exodus 3:1-15
Wednesday – Romans 13:8-10
Thursday – James 2:14-26
Friday – 1 John 2:9-11
Saturday – 1 Corinthians 13
Announcements and Updates:
· SSUMC first in the building worship will be September 6!
· Men’s Bible study on Acts on Tuesday at 7:00 pm please join us. One hour – We will be reviewing Acts 13 and 14!
· Thursday – 10:00 am Bible Study on Luke will continue through the summer, Acts 1 and 2.
· Prayer group/Bible Study on Acts – Thursday evening at 7:00 pm, please be ready to discuss Acts 15 and 16
· September 1 and 2 starting at 8:00 am Sorting days for the Rummage sale – see Sue Richmond for more information.