Here is the audio from my sermon on February 14th at the historic LaSalle St Church in Chicago. I hope it is a blessing to you all.
Also, I thought it would be fun to include my notes as well, just in case you wanted to follow along and/or see what I included or didn’t include in the sermon. Here they are:
LaSalle St. Church—Your Enemies will Love You
Key Notes from Sermon:
1. This is the last week of your current series on sexuality.
a. As I’ve been listening along on-line I know that the line in the sand has been distinctly drawn by each of the guest preachers;
b. Some of you agreed with them and a more conservative understanding of Scripture, and I know some of you didn’t…
i. So much so that last week Pastor Laura intently focused on the sacredness of digging deep in to the fidelity of what it means to be in this church community.
c. I want to honor the journey you all are on, and build upon last week by talking about the Wholistic Understanding of Kingdom in Relation to Our Enemies
2. Professor of mine in seminary always said:
“We’re going to spend eternity together anyways—we might as well start learning how to get along now!”
a. The beauty of LaSalle St Church are the extreme cultural, political, social and in some cases theological differences that together create this community.
b. Unique b/c outside of these walls, the person sitting next to you in many cases could be labeled your ‘enemy’.
i. When it comes to such intense topics as sexuality, celibacy, gay marriage; each of those differences are magnified that much more.
II.1. Before I start digging further into the passage in Jonah we read, I want to provide a framework for our engagement with that text:
“When a person’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, they make even their enemies live at peace with them”
2. Let me make this more personal:
“If my ways are pleasing to the Lord, even my enemies will live at peace with me.”
a. I don’t know if there is a more ridiculous request in all of Scripture—I mean they’re called ENEMIES for a reason!
i. What is an enemy? Def: one that is antagonistic to another
Someone you might not like; you probably don’t agree with;
ii. ‘the enemy’ in most cases is the embodiment of things opposite than yourself and your beliefs
b. Read verse again!: I’ll tell you what this verse is NOT saying:
“You just live at peace with your enemy and that’s good enough….”
Nope—it’s saying that you live in such a way that your enemies will RECIPRICALLY live at peace with you
c. It’s much easier to look at an ‘enemy’ as someone outside of our own church community,
But what happens when these perceived enemies fall within our walls?
3. I was reading a story about famous British preacher Charles Spurgeon and leader of the Salvation Army, Bramwell Booth
a. Spurgeon notably said that he smoked cigars “to the honor and glory of God”
b. Booth took offense to this and publicly wrote that Spurgeon’s reasoning was “a flippant and irreligious apology that encouraged the youth to use tobacco.”
i. And yet, God blessed both Spurgeon and the Salv Army in remarkable ways—Proving God blesses ppl we disagree with!
c. 15th Chapter of Acts we see the same thing: God even uses break-ups:
i. Paul vs. Barnabas: Both still had a key role in the early church doing the Lord’s work
4. Disagreements don’t mean we have to fully align; sure doesn’t mean there won’t be critics.
a. Sure, it’s easy to talk about; easy to intellectualize. But it’s the hardest thing you’ll have to do—pursue your enemy such that they will live at peace with you!
For the rest of the time I want to talk about what this pursuit looks like.
I was on the phone w/civil rights leader Dr. John Perkins two days ago and he said to me:
“Keep going in your work because you’ll shut the critics up in love.”
b. What kind of love?
5. 1 Tim 4, Paul instructing Timothy how to be a solid leader for our faith:
Verse 15: “Take pains in these instructions; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all.”
a. In church these days progress has b/c a relative/ambiguous term…
b. Progress—in Greek literally means “a pioneer advancing into new territory”
i. You can track it—not just change/behavior modification, it’s carving a totally new path
b. My definition of love: Tangible and measureable expressions of unconditional..
c. What is more of a “pioneer in our faith advancing into new territory” than tangibly loving our enemies—the ppl most unlike us—such that they will live at peace with us?
Challenge: Is your life and your love permeating/progressing so much that even your enemies recognize and revere it?!
-What does it mean to relentlessly love your enemy despite:
**Carve a new path so unique to our culture—that they can’t see you anymore b/c they just see Christ in you; and they are at peace with that, and you.
1. Lord gave word to Jonah to warn the Ninevites of their immanent destruction if they didn’t repent.
-This was a big deal b/c Nineveh was the famous capitol of the dominate Assyrian Empire/also the center of worship for Fertility Goddess—Ishtar
a. Jonah didn’t want to give the Ninevites a second chance so he dashed for Tarshish—storm came, swallowed by the whale and coincidentally dumped out at Nineveh
b. Read 3:4-5
Read 3:10 … Good news right? Not from Jonah’s perspective
2. Jonah forgot a wholistic understanding of Kingdom in relation to Enemies because he didn’t understand how God continually legitimizes and dignifies humanity.
a. Jonah was bitter at his enemies that he already decided they deserved judgment.
b. He was angry at God for God’s relentless pursuit of His children in authentic love.
c. Instead of humbly standing in awe engaging in God’s best journey for the Ninevites, Jonah disengaged and decided to sit and pout.
-so much so that he wanted his life taken from him!
3. Too often in today’s culture the Church takes the easy way out
i. Deciding to pout; point the finger; cast judgment and disengage b/c we don’t see any way to peaceful resolution with other of God’s children
ii. But that’s the point of faith—we’re not supposed to see a way to resolution; we are to actively pursue those most unlike us to show Christ’s life in love.
4. Tupac Shakur:
I’ll probably, be punished for hard living; But I’m praying Father please forgive me; Cause we’re all going to die; we bleed through similar veins;
We’re all going to die; we bleed through similar veins –
You, me, your family, your neighbor…………your enemy—we bleed through the same veins God created in each of us.
a. Not respecting a person created by God is not revering the Almighty himself.
-So if you are fighting for the legalization of gay marriage; how are you then dignifying those people trying to uphold marriage as one man and one woman?
a. Are you dignifying them? Or are you just pouting that they’re bigots?
-What if you believe that same-sex sexual behavior is a sin; how is your relentless love permeating outward to those who don’t?
a. Or are you just sitting back not doing anything because you are convinced there is no resolution unless that other group fully agrees with you?
5. The greatest lesson that Jonah offers; and the greatest question for us today
a. How authentic am I being with my enemies?
i. Jonah showed us just how inauthentic he truly was with his…
b. What about you?
It’s time to finally start corporately showing “progress”—
“Being a pioneer in our faith advancing into new territory”—a territory that demands an authentic love for those who by all means are to be considered our enemies.
**But the truth is, we really know what our actual enemy is—
It’s our own fear that God will indeed do a miracle with the one group of people we had already written off.
And when God does—how are you going to respond?
Or through living your life so pleasing to the Lord that even our enemies will live at peace with us?
Thank you very much. Much love.