Hey All… Ever watch someone stick their foot in their mouth so deep you wonder how they’re going to pull themselves out of it? Wanna watch me do that very thing on Sunday? Sometimes there are topics of conversation where it might just be impossible to avoid flossing your teeth with your shoelaces. When the Word of God comes up against one of our most dearly held belief systems, no matter how we slice it, it’s going to come across all wrong. Curious yet? I’ll tell you more in Deeper Thoughts below.
But first…a couple of real important, real quick thoughts…
· A tomorrow night DON’T MISS event: Fall Fellowship Dinner and “Stone Soup Dinner Theatre” – 5:00 – ‘til whenever. As the name implies, it’s a scrumptious dinner (but, sorry…no rocks will be in your soup) followed by a variety show you’ll be talking about for weeks to come! The Hospitality Team will provide world-renowned roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy. But we’re depending on you for the sides and desserts! If you haven’t signed up already, please click here to see where we need you the most.
· Trunk or Treat – Sunday, October 29, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Come be a part of reaching children and families in Ashburn with this festive night of candy, games, prizes, and hayrides. We still need a couple of decorated “car trunks” to hand out candy; we need help with set-up, parking, and clean-up; and we need folks to just mingle and chat with our newcomers and neighbors! Please email Chris Bowen to get involved!
· This week’s Spiritual Power video testimony is from our dear brother, Tom Michaelian. Click here to learn how to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit’s nudge to pray.
Ok…that’s it today for you email skimmers and you who don’t care to watch the preacher electrocute himself. BUT…
Some Deeper Thoughts…
I imagine you’ve noticed this thing about our American culture. It’s everywhere. In private conversations, just about everyone I know bemoans its negative impact on our society. Yet in public, no one dare speak a word about it lest they be misunderstood--or worse, labeled something really ugly.
The New Testament scriptures call it out, intensely leaning into the subject from multiple practical angles. It is so core to our fallen human nature that it has been a struggle for Christians to conceptualize for 2,000-some-odd years.
But the New Testament writers saw the unique power of living from a new state of mind on the subject, so they made it a core tenant of just about every letter they wrote. The early church became known in their society as profoundly counter-cultural on this point, and it was unquestionably one of the most attractive elements of the early Christian church to some, and perhaps one of the scariest elements to others.
Today, our culture is so steeped in the humanistic side of this issue that it has become a cardinal doctrine of American society. To think or say anything different than the cultural norm is to be cast as someone horrible—bigoted, insensitive, oppressive, or worse.
So, many of my fellow Christian preachers do some quick math on the subject. The scriptures teach something wildly opposite of American culture. But to speak or say anything to the contrary of culture gets you branded among the despicable. It’s not hard to envision the outcome going down the rabbit-hole of this topic, so it’s honestly easier to just avoid the subject altogether. We don’t need to teach anything unbiblical, of course. We just need to steer clear of those parts of the New Testament. I mean, there’s plenty of other topics in the Bible to cover, right?
Do I have your curiosity aroused just yet?
I hesitate to even tell you what we are talking about. One side of me just wants to get you so curious that you’ll grab your bag of popcorn and show up to church to see me electrocute myself grabbing the proverbial “third rail” we find in scripture.
But another side of me wants to get you digging into the Word of God ahead of time so you’ll already be in the process of being transformed by Jesus.
(Oh… and there’s also another part of me that wants to hide it so you won’t decide to skip church and dodge the obvious stretch that the scriptures are going to call you to.)
In our fall teaching series called “Effective Faith,” we are studying the life and letters of the Apostle Peter, searching intently for “everything we need for life and godliness” that is promised to us by God (2 Peter 1:3). Peter tells us that if we will grab ahold of what God has provided for us, it will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our relationship with Jesus.
He did not promise it would go over well with our society.
What are we talking about? Can I get you to do a little advance reading before Sunday? Set the stage for what you’re about to read by looking at 1 Peter 1:13-16. Then, take your Bible and wade carefully through 1 Peter 2:13 – 3:16.
“Chris, are you serious? Why would you even go here? Don’t you know we have more important matters going on in our lives and in our world? Are you really suggesting we go back to the dark ages in all this?”
Can I make a promise to you? Two promises, actually.
First, I promise that there is no way that I will say this all smoothly. In 35 years of teaching, I have never taught these verses in depth, precisely for all the reasons I have shared with you above. There just isn’t a clean way for an American preacher to expound the Word on these subjects without crossing the sensitivities of our way of life. So… give me grace and bring your popcorn.
But secondly, and far more importantly, I want to challenge you to trust the Word of God to reveal something you absolutely do not expect. First read through these passages, I imagine like me, you feel the squirminess of wondering if we are going back in time to an outdated, archaic way of thinking when religion was used to bludgeon people into submitting to their oppressors. At best, we may read these texts as irrelevant to our current cultural circumstances; at worst, they may be insulting to our sensibilities and might even be outright offensive. But you may be surprised that what the Word is actually revealing is not at all the dire, oppressive, archaic patriarchy you fear it is suggesting.
Here's my promise: God has something to reveal to us that is obviously important to Him. And while it clearly crosses against our natural instincts, the truth is that it has been crossing every human in every culture throughout all of time. It is why it garners so much attention in the New Testament. In fact, its crossing of our sensibilities is precisely its power. God wants to transform how we see and experience our circumstances. He wants to empower us to live from a renewed nature. And when we do, we will be radically set free from all the oppressive and unjust circumstances we may encounter.
Curious? Let’s jump in. The Word of God is living, active, present, and relevant. God is going to reshape us this Sunday. Can’t wait!!
Jesus said, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, & with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” - Matt. 22:37-39