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Andy Stanley - Shine

Andy Stanley - Shine
TOPICS: Not in It to Win It

So today is actually part two of a series, two part series called Not in It to Win It. And it's based on my brand new book entitled, Not in It to Win It. And I do not like it when pastors leverage their platform as pastors to sell books, and so I never do that. And so I'm honestly honest, and I said this last time, if you're part of one of our network of churches in the Atlanta area specifically, you do not need to buy this book and you do not need to read this book because you have been living this book and you have been modeling it. And we've talked about most of this, but based on what we all experienced the last two years, I've decided that I wanted to take what we have learned and what we're doing and export it to some other churches and some other church leaders. Because in my opinion, just my opinion, I don't think everybody did this so well.

So as we enter another crazy political season and it, you know, it's already getting genned up. I just wanted to take a couple of weeks and remind you of some things you already know and talk about some things we've already talked about to get us prepared for what is about to happen. Specifically, to help us navigate or successfully navigate our potential political differences. And again, what kind of drove this for me, and I shared a little bit of this about this last time, you know, about a year and a half ago, or excuse me, a year ago, last spring, spring of 2021, looking back over at what happened in our country in terms of COVID, the political cycle, cultural moments that we had that were so disruptive. As I watch Christian leaders, pastors in particular, some bloggers and some broadcasters, but you know, high level Christian leaders. As I watch them act and speak in such unchristlike terms and say such unchristlike things and respond and react in such unchristlike ways, that in turn empowered their congregations and their followers to do the same.

I was just, honestly, I was embarrassed, I was disappointed. I mean, the behavior and the language of some of these high profile leaders and some of them, I know. I just didn't have a category for it. And again, as is the case in leadership, they empowered their people to then do the same. I mean, name calling and demonizing entire groups of people. It became like a spiritual discipline. I felt like they were all trying to outdo each other. You experienced some of this. And the reason I could say it's like a spiritual discipline, they took their political ideals and their political ideology and their political opinions of which, by the way, I have many, okay? So in fact, Sandra here, one of our kind of running jokes at home is, every once in a while she says, you know, Andy, you don't have to have an opinion about everything. I'm like, you don't? I thought that was just part of being human. She's like, nope. But I do, I'm a highly opinionated person.

And I have, you know, deeply held political beliefs and values just like you do. But to watch these supposedly Christian leaders then take chapter and verse and quote Jesus and quote the scripture and kind of wrap their political views in scripture and put 'em out there as if it's thus sayeth the Lord. I'm like, what in the world are you doing? Now, political, you know, polarization, it's just part of the American landscape, right? It's just part of our culture. It's been that way for decades. But the thing that made it so tricky and continues to make it so tricky is in this last cycle, the messy but productive middle all but vanished, it just disappeared. And everybody felt pressured to move further to the right. You know, your right, my right's over here, your right's over here. To move further to the right or further to the left or be left behind. And one thing Christians never wanna be is left behind. That kind of the joke kind of moved this way from the front to the back, you know, you'll get it later. Yeah, we never wanna be left behind. Some of you are too young to even know what I'm talking about. God bless you, you're so fortunate. You never read all 14 books. Anyway, on 12 pages from the New Testament. Anyway, so church just, so here's what happened.

So what happened and what was so disturbing to me, again, this is just kind of my opinion. We're gonna get to something beyond my opinion, just a minute, which is why you came. Churches and church leaders, really, I saw them take their cues from culture. Church leaders too, they vacated the middle, took their cues from culture. And they did pretty much what everybody else was doing. And unfortunately they did it the same way everybody else was doing it and they used the same terms. And as I watched all this, again, I'm not politically neutral, but as I watched these Christian leaders using their platforms this way, the best way to summarize it, I felt like that they forgot what it meant to be Christian, not become a Christian. We know, we got that down, right? It was like, I'm like, you're not even being Christian. You're not speaking like a Christian. Your posture in no way represents the posture of Jesus. Your approach in no way reflects the approach of Jesus. And Jesus was so clear about how to approach so many of these things.

Now, the reason that I wanted to spend a couple of weeks talking about it with us is that we have a very specific challenge. As you know, or as most of you know, we are not a single site church. So we're not a single site church in one community where everybody kinda looks the same and acts the same. Our churches are spread all over the city of Atlanta, which I love, the state of Georgia as well, and some other states in the United States. But even within the city, because of where our churches are located, we are very politically diverse. Now you may not be aware of that, but we are and I think that's a great thing, that's absolutely okay. We do not all see eye to eye politically. And if you are uncomfortable with that, you're at the right place if you're a Christian, because as we're gonna see, you need to get comfortable with that. And I've learned to get comfortable with that because of what's at stake.

And here's why I say it's okay. And you know this from your marriage, you know this from your home life, you know this from the home that you grew up in, disagreement is unavoidable. This is true at work, this is true in marriage, this is true everywhere, this is true politically. It's true in any organization, true in church. Disagreement is unavoidable, but, and this is where the tension is, and this is why we gotta talk about it. Division is different, division is a choice. And again, you've experienced this in marriage. You've had some disagreements, but you didn't get divorced. You've had maybe a lot of disagreements, but you're like, you know what? This isn't gonna divide us. This isn't gonna rip our family apart. So disagreement's unavoidable, division is always a choice. And the nation continues to choose division, unnecessarily in my opinion, but continues to choose it. The goal is for the church not to, and specifically, we don't want to.

And here's why this is a good thing. This is why the tension is a good thing. It is in this tension over what we disagree over, it's in this tension that we learn and that we grow. It's in this tension that we say, oh, oh, I always thought, oh, I assumed, oh, I was raised to believe, oh, I was told people like you, oh, oh, that's where you have oh moments. That's where you learn and you grow and you adjust your attitude and you shift your thinking and you don't necessarily abandon your political views or your political party. But there's a sense of, oh, I'm not as buttoned up as I thought I was. And honestly, it's disruptive to have those oh moments because you're like me. You wanna have a box and everything fits perfectly in the box and your worldview makes sense and you got God in there somehow and it's just all wonderful. And then you bump into somebody or somebody else's experience that doesn't fit your box. And it's like, well, you know what? That just makes me uncomfortable. I like my box, go away.

Now, this is human nature. This is true for all of us. We wanna have a buttoned up worldview. This is why we get mad and somebody says, why are you mad? I'm not mad, I'm like, I think you're mad. You're mad over something really has almost nothing to do with you because when our worldview and our box gets threatened, especially, we got God in Jesus, in there together and the holy spirit and got chapter and verse. When it gets, you know, when it kind of gets us all stirred up, we get defensive, we all do. I do, we all do. This is what's so beautiful about the local church. And this is what is beautiful in particular about our local church, because we're so big and we're far more diverse than you think we are. Especially when you take into consideration where all of our churches are.

Now, what I'm gonna say next is gonna be the hardest thing for some of you to accept. And it's okay to disagree and cross your arms and have bad attitude. But I just want you to think about it later, because this is a potentially breakthrough idea or a breakthrough concept that may kind of expand your horizons just a little bit. Believe it or not, political disagreement. Believe it or not, political disagreement is usually fueled by divergent life experiences, not low IQ. I know it's like, what? No, no, no, Andy, you're wrong. The reason she's a Democrat is she's not very smart. The reason he is a Republican is, you know, Republicans, they're not all that smart. I mean, it's just a lot easier to say the other party, they're just low IQ. But listen, when we associate someone's differing political views, when we associate that, they're just not that smart, low IQ or, you know, a lack of character. They're just bad people, they're just evil people, they're just out to get us, they're just evil.

When you do this, do you know what you do? You do unto others exactly what you do not want others to do unto you. You size them up and you write them off and you stereotype them. And I don't know you personally, but you don't wanna be sized up and written off and you don't wanna be stereotyped. Oh, you're a Republican, I know everything about you, conversation. Oh, you're a Democrat. I know everything there is to know about you 'cause I know those Democrats. You don't wanna be treated that way by people you know or people you don't know. And neither do other people. We do unto others exactly what we don't want done unto us. Now, here's the thing. And this is why I love talking about this stuff with you. Mature people, and that's you, right? I mean, aren't you mature? Look in the camera a second, okay. Everybody, aren't you mature? You're mature, mature people and curious people. I hope you're curious, mature people and curious people don't go there.

Jesus followers don't go there because Jesus didn't go there. Jesus did not size you up and write you off and he could have. And God didn't size you up and write you off and stereotype you, and he could have. We don't go there because Jesus didn't go there. And we're fortunate he didn't go there because every time we sing about the grace of God, the mercy of God, every time you confess your sin, let me just meddle a bit. Every time you confess the same sin over and over and over and treat God like God's an idiot. Like I'm gonna ask you to forgive my sin and forget it. Okay, God, I did it again. Oops, I shouldn't have said again, 'cause I think you've forgotten. And God's like, what? What kind of game is this you have created? Okay, I'm the God of the, the fact that God in his grace and mercy loves you anyway and loves me anyway and has called us to do for others what he's done for us. This should not necessarily be easy, but it should be simple in terms of understanding what it means to be Christian. And the thing is this, Jesus didn't just suggest this. We have a mandate that prohibits us from going there.

Again, if you're not a Christian, knock yourself out, demonize everybody, criticize everybody, use whatever language you want, have fun with it, okay? You know, that's up to you. But if you consider yourself a Christian, especially Jesus followers, Jesus addressed this. And here's what he said about all of us as it relates to all of us. You are to, and again, how many times we talk about this, he says you're to love one another even if you don't agree with one another. In fact, you should love one another especially when you don't agree with one another. And this love one another, this isn't, you know, Jesus feeling something toward us, I just love those people. No, I mean, read the gospels. Jesus' love was active. It was external. And do you know what the love of Jesus looks like? It looks, sounds, acts like, and most importantly reacts like Jesus. It's gracious and it's loving and it's kind and it's patient and it's honest and it's direct, but it's compassionate. It's the kind of love that leans in rather than pushes away.

And here's what I know about you and here's what you know about me. If we can figure this out, you do not have to agree with me to love me. And I don't have to agree with you to love you. But Jesus says you are to love him and you are to love her actively, compassionately, involved because that's what I've done for you. We can disagree politically and love unconditionally, right? And some of you are like, that's a stretch right there, pastor, I just don't know. I mean, you know, I can love you if you don't love the Braves and I can love you if you don't like my, you know, but politically, yeah. I mean, don't answer out loud, but can you do this? Now here's the thing. I say we can. Jesus doesn't leave this in the realm of potential or possibility. We are, if we're Jesus followers, we are required to love one another when we disagree. It goes back to what we talked about last week, we'll get to in just a minute. It goes back to the idea of the law of Christ. Jesus has a law. He didn't have 10 commandments, he had one command. He said, here it is.

You are to love one another. And you don't just to get to pick what it looks like and sounds like and reacts like. I've modeled it for you. You are to love one another as I've loved you. You must love one another. In other words, Jesus has modeled for us what one another love looks like and the guys in the room, again, read it for yourself. The guys in the room when he said this, they were so different. They had so many differences and he's like, he could have gone around the room. Matthew, remember when we met? Oh yeah. Nathaniel, remember when we met, yeah. Peter, you remember when we met? Yes, and Peter, the worst is about to happen tonight. You have no idea how much I'm gonna love you based on what you're about to do. He could have gone all around the room and he says, this is what I'm calling you to do, guys. You are to love one another. Not the way you've seen love happen. Not the way you're comfortable with love. I want you to do for each other what I have done and what I'm about to do for you. Which means that God loved us in spite of the fact, God loved us in spite of the fact that we were and still are wrong about a lot of things. God loves us in spite of the fact that we continue to be wrong about a lot of things.

Here's the kicker. Here's what levels the playing field. God loved you when you were wrong about him. And he says, now, if I've done that for you, can you not just do that for one another? God loves you, this is amazing. God loves you in spite, don't be offended or you can be marginally offended, but don't leave early, okay? God loves you in spite of your misinformed, experience-based, evolving views. Now you say my views aren't, I don't have evolving views. I got a box and Jesus and none of this. Listen, you do not see the world the same way you did when you were 15, your views evolved. You don't see the world the same way you did when you were 25, unless you're 25, okay? And then you got it all worked out and it's perfect. But when you're 30, you're gonna look at your 25 year old box and go, eh, there were some problems. And when you're 55, you're gonna like, the whole box was completely wrong. I can't even believe, I'm so embarrassed, Mom. I'm so embarrassed, dad. You know, that's part of growing up. That's part of maturing, right?

So to hang onto things and to think, you know, but here's the point. God loves you and God loves me in spite of our misinformed, experience-based, evolving views. And here's what he's inviting you to do and inviting me to do. In fact, he more invites, he instructs us, he commands it. He says, now I want you to love each other in spite of your misinformed. But Lord, she's wrong. God's like, okay, well, she's wrong. We just love her anyway. But she's wrong. Hey, wait, wait, wait, wait, is being right, is that the litmus test for who I get to love and who I know? I guess not. Okay, just love her, love him. But their whole view is just based on their personal experience. It's not grounded in anything but their personal experience. And God's like, well, I hate to tell you this, but so is yours. Oh yeah, well it's different. No, it's not different. I want you to do for others what I have done for you.

This is the most important part, but not because it's the nice thing to do. Oh, let's just be nice Christians. No, it's way bigger than that. This is mission critical. This is mission critical. This is mission of the church critical. This is God's mission, mission critical. This is strategic, it's important, there's virtually nothing more important than this. And this is why I say that because at the end of his ministry, before he was arrested and crucified, Jesus puts it out there and here's how he says it. And many of you can quote this from memory because you've heard it so many times. Jesus says, look up here, guys. I want you to love one another as I have loved you. That's how you must love one another. Because by this, this loving each other regardless, by this unique brand of love, by this crazy love that brings people who are nothing like each other and don't even normally like each other, by this unique brand of love. You ready?

Everyone's gonna know that you are my follower, disciple, learner. If, not you vote the same way, baptize the same way, do communion the same way, sing the songs the same way, meet at the same time, no, no. He says, no, the litmus test, the thing that's gonna say to the world that you're my follower is how you treat, how you love one another. So this isn't a nice to have, this isn't a be kind and get along. This is mission critical for the church. In fact, the more we disagree, the more we disagree politically, the more diverse we are politically, the more noticeable, the more notable, the more noteworthy our lives and our churches become. The fact that we don't all agree politically is to our advantage. The fact that we are geographically dispersed and politically diverse, it's to our advantage. It means we have a unique opportunity, especially in our cities, we have a unique opportunity, the unique opportunity that a single site church doesn't have, nothing wrong with single site churches. It's just, this is the stewardship of opportunity and responsibility that God has given us.

The more, another way of saying this, the more politically diverse we are, the harder it's gonna be for us to love one another. And consequently, the brighter our light is gonna shine. So here's something you know, but I'll say it anyway. Getting along with people who are just like you, that's not amazing. That's normal, that's expected, right? But loving and serving with and worshiping with folks and being in small group with folks who aren't like you, who don't share everything about your worldview, don't share your political views. That's amazing, that's a showstopper, that's a stop and stare. That's ultimately, as we're gonna see in just a minute, that's what helped change the world here.

Here's the way the apostle Paul says it, and he uses our key phrase. He says, look, here's what I want you to do. And he's talking to Christians in the Roman provinces and cities of Galatia. He says, Christians, here's what I want you to do. I want you to carry each other's burdens. Well, why? Well, here's why, because carrying, here, carrying your burden, do you know what that requires of me? It requires me to move in your direction. And carrying my burden requires you to move in my direction. And when you move in my direction and help me carry my life burden, do you know what you'll discover? You'll discover that our differences are more understandable than you thought. You'll discover why I sit where I sit and consequently take the stand that I do. And I'll understand why you sit where you sit and consequently, why you take the stand that you do. We're gonna have that oh moment. And our boxes are gonna be so confused and so messed up that we either have to set them down and love each other, or turn our backs on each other and decide we're no longer gonna be Jesus followers and elevate our politics over our faith, which is always, always, always a mistake.

More importantly, and in this way, this is what he says. And in this way, you actually fulfill, here's his phrase, the law of Christ. That when I move in your direction, regardless of how different we are and I get up under the burden of your life, even if you caused the burden through your misdeeds and through your irresponsibility, I learn something about you and I model the law of Christ. The law of Christ is the love as Christ loved us. In other words, when we choose, to say it this way, when we choose to carry someone's burden, what divides us diminishes and what unites us surfaces. That's when we have the oh moment. So lemme just ask you and get back to it. For those of you who are just, it's just, they're just completely wrong and horrible, whatever, whichever side you're on you, you got some work to do if you're a Jesus follower. If you're not a Jesus follower, it's just fun. Have at it, hate, hate, hate, hate, it's okay. Call names, it's okay.

If you're a Jesus follower, you do not have that luxury. You do not have that opportunity. You are to lean in and discover and figure out how to love and get up under their burden. And it is gonna mess you up, it's gonna rock your world, but it's what changed the world. You will fear less, you'll understand more. And you might even change. Not parties, but you might even change the way you see the world and the way that you view the people around you that you've never understood. How could they, how could they, how could they? Remember this, I've told you this so many times. Anytime you get stuck in the cul-de-sac of how does anybody do that? Why would anybody do that? How could anybody vote that way? How could anybody believe that way? The moment you hear yourself saying that or thinking that, just remember, there's something you don't know. If I don't understand why she could vote that way and if I don't understand why they would act that way, there's something I don't understand.

There's something I need to discover. And yes, it's messy, but it makes you better and it makes the world better and it makes the church stronger. This is how the church began. This is how the world changed. And the thing is this, then I'm gonna show you a passage. If the people who came before us, and we can't even begin to imagine, I mean, I'm a fan, I read so much ancient history. Some of you love ancient history. It's impossible to understand how divided these different groups were. But if they were able to come together and launch the church as divided as they were, and as different as they were from each other, if they were able to find common ground and serve together and love together and forgive each other, then honestly, I don't have any excuse. You don't have an excuse either. In a culture divided by class and family and citizenship, where people purchased their way up the economic ladder.

And then just as they were getting to the close to the top, they could lose their freedom and become slaves to anybody because slave wasn't race based, it was economic based. You might have to sell yourself into slavery to get your kids outta slavery. You might have to sell yourself into slavery because you had a bad crop. I mean, it's a world we cannot even imagine. And the ecclesia of Jesus, the church of Jesus, it was birthed in this culture, in this climate. And it was so disturbing, it was so wrong, it was so different, it was so unsettling. Classes of people, classes of people whose circles rarely overlapped, only when it was unavoidable, found themselves, they came together voluntarily, this is amazing, to worship their resurrected savior. I mean, they would be in the same room and the houses were small and be like, look who's here. Because the message of Jesus was good news for everybody. And they realize everybody's invited, even though this doesn't quite make sense.

Again, we can't imagine. I'm gonna read you some verses. I don't even know, there's no way to even exaggerate how disturbing and how counter cultural these words from the apostle Paul were, especially to Roman and Gentile Christians. Here's what he says. This is what changed the world. This is what I'm invited into. This is what you're invited into. This is how you make the world a better place. This is how you make the United States a better nation. He says there is neither Jew nor Gentile, okay, oh, wait, stop right there. That's ridiculous, Paul. Okay, listen, in first century, this gap was so wide, it almost destroyed the church right outta the gates. This gap was so wide culturally and morally, the differences, they felt like no, no, those people are immoral, those people are immoral. I mean, the gap was so wide and it required extraordinary, extraordinary patience and extraordinary compromise for these two sides to come together, to be a part of the same group and the same church. 20 years after the resurrection, 20 years after the resurrection, they're still trying to work this out. But the reason they didn't give up is because they knew God had done something new in the world for the world, and the church was to be the message bearer.

The church had this stewardship of getting this message out to the world and they could not allow their differences to get in the way. And I'm telling you, between these two groups, the differences were vast. He says, there's neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave nor free. And this is what they heard. Wait, wait, wait, okay. Paul, quick history lesson, Paul. Everybody knows. Paul, it is self evident. It is self evident from history. It's self evident from culture. It's self evident in our personal experience. Paul, it's self evident. Some men, some women were born to be ruled over and some men and some women were born to rule. Some men and some women were born to be owned and some men and some women were born to be the owners. Everybody knows this. There is a huge distinction between the owners and those who are owned. The whole economy rises and falls on this. Every single pagan religion, every single pagan God, every single God we've worshiped from the Greek gods to the Roman gods. Everybody just assumes this. What do you mean there's no slave or free? You're telling me your God values the owner as much as the owned? That God values the owned the same way?

That God gives the same amount of dignity to those who are owned to those who own? That there's no difference, that God doesn't play favorites? Paul, okay, man, if this ever catches on, that's the end of slavery. Exactly. The seeds that eventually, and it took too long, the seeds that eventually bore the fruit that undermined the slave trade all over the world, almost all over the world. They were sewn by Christians and they took root where there were Christian missionaries and people decided to be followers of Jesus. Today you know this, right? Anywhere in the world where the church is strong, anywhere in the world today where the church is strong and legal, slavery is illegal. The places in the world where slavery is not illegal, it's where the church is not strong and is not in the open and is not supported or celebrated. This is no coincidence, this is no accident. The liberating gospel of Jesus has huge, huge cultural implications, but they don't get voted in. They get raised up and lived out by the people who are following Jesus. And eventually, people discover it's true. Following Jesus makes you better at life, it makes life better, and it makes the world a better place.

Paul, if we decide in our churches to equate, to give the same dignity to the owned and the owners, Paul, this is so disruptive. He said, well, I got another one. Neither is there male, female. They're like, okay, whoa, whoa, whoa. If the women find out about this. I mean, Jews and Gentiles, right, but wait, you're saying that men are not, I mean that women, that men aren't superior, that women aren't are, is this what you're saying? Paul's like, it's exactly what I'm saying. Ladies, women flocked to the church. The women, this was such a message of dignity and the women knew all along what you women know. You're smarter than us anyway, okay? So they already knew, they just didn't have the freedom to live their lives in such a way where they got equal treatment and equal education and equal opportunities, okay? The seeds were sewn through the message of Jesus.

Again, to us, it's self evident. Of course there's no difference between men and women in terms of their value. But I'm telling you when Paul wrote these words, it was not self-evident, the opposite was self-evident. For you, he says, this is so powerful. He says, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. There's no distinction in the kingdom of God. Equal dignity, equal worth, equal value. This was so disruptive. If this caught on, if this caught on, the fabric of the entire empire would unravel. And it did, and Jesus predicted it. And it was because not of a bunch of people who believed something, it was a bunch of people who lived out the teaching of Jesus. The cultural, and again, okay, I don't even know how to describe it any further. The culturally disruptive unity, the culturally disruptive unity, everybody was there and they refused to allow their built in differences to divide them. The cultural disruptive unity of the first-century church shocked the world and their message and their unity eventually changed it.

Now I don't have to tell you this, I didn't have to tell you any of this I guess, but here's the thing, right? We run the risk because we're so big and because we're so diverse in terms of political diversity and where we are in the city, we run the risk of being divided over a wide range of issues. And here's the thing, you may never understand. You may never understand why a Christian or another Christian could possibly be for something you're against or against something that you're for. You may, it's like you've heard it a thousand times. You may never ever get there and they may never get to the place where they can fully understand or articulate why it is that you believe what you believe in politically and why you're against what you're against and why you're for what you're for. They may never get there. They may never change their view. You probably won't change your view, right? Which makes it messy, and it makes it hard, but that's what makes it amazing and that's what makes it noticeable and that's what makes it notable, and that's what allows our light to shine in the darkness.

So let's not distance ourselves from believers we disagree with. And here's what Jesus said about that. I mean, he was direct. He said, hey, if you greet only your own people, don't raise your hand, but you have people, right? I got people, let me tell you about my people. My people are comfortable. They believe just like me. I get with my people, I can relax. I can just be myself, I can just be with my people. And I like to be with my people. And if I just had my way, I would just, Sandra and I, we would just be with our people all the time, it's just easy. And Jesus is going, hang on, hang on. If I decided to be with my people, I would've never stepped foot on your filthy planet, okay? So you can't just be with your people. Just made that part up, he didn't say that, okay? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

Even the pagans do that. Everybody does it this way. He's saying, come on. I want you to be a different kind of people. I want you to be with your people and I want you to be with people who aren't your people. And over time, they may become your people. In fact, they may be better people. You just don't know because you've protected yourself from those people. This is why our nation is so divided 'cause everybody ran to their extreme buckets and vacated the middle. Don't learn a thing. It's just easier to call people names, demonize the other side, because you know this, you can't raise money in the middle. You can't get a bunch of followers in the middle. You can't be famous in the middle. You raise money and you become famous in the extremes. Let's not fall for that. That didn't change the world, that divided the world, that continues to divide the world. And Jesus has invited us to do something extraordinary. He's invited us to be amazing.

So let's just do what the early church did. They worked out, they changed the world, slave and free, male and female, Jew and Gentile, Democrat, Republican, let's just be Christian. Let's be, first and foremost, partisans, not of the Republican party, the Democratic party. Let's be partisans of a king who established an upside down kingdom, the others first kingdom, the go to the back of the line kingdom, the do for others what they can't do for themselves kingdom. Marriages, where it's a submission competition, businesses where everybody's for everybody else, because it's not about me, it's for what we can do together. And it's what we can do together for the city and the culture and for the world. It's a way of life fueled, this is what's so simple and beautiful. It's a way of life fueled and informed by this forever relevant command. That is relevant in spite of how things change and in spite of how things come and go. This elegant command, again, he didn't need to give us 10, it was so perfect. He says, here's what I want you to do. I just want you to do what love requires of you.

I just want you to do what love requires of you. You just do, well you say, well, that's so weak and passive. He's like, are you kidding? I'm about to be nailed to a cross because that's what love requires of me. This is not weak and passive. I want you to put other people first, bear their burden. I want you to do what love requires of you. It's simple, to love as he loved us. This is his new covenant command and this command, it serves as the beautiful bridge between our differences, the bridge between our dissimilar backgrounds, the bridge between our dissimilar life experiences, the bridge between the differences in how we were raised and what we were raised around and what we were exposed to and why we think certain things are right and certain things are wrong. It's the bridge, this is so powerful. It's the bridge between our disagreement over solutions.

See, here's what we have in common. We all think that what's best for people is what's best. We just disagree on what's best for people, but we all agree that what's best for people is what's best because for God so loved all the people that he gave what was most valuable to him. And he says, so come on, I need all of your brains in the game and all of your minds in the game and all of your hearts in the game and together, we can figure this out, but you won't figure it out divided and you won't figure it out chasing your favorite politician because they have the best speeches and get you mad and so mad. And they also have perfected the fear game. The fear game goes like this in case you haven't figured it out. They're coming to get us, be afraid. We're losing, we're losing, we're losing. We can't lose, you need to gimme your money and elect or we're gonna lose. Both sides are constantly trying to convince their teams that they're losing in the game of politics. You can't ever be winning, you have to always be losing, but at the last minute, you're gonna pull it out. Woo, because if they'd won, imagine what would've happened.

Hey, let me ask you this. What would happen if the followers of Jesus decided, were just gonna be Christian? We're gonna adopt the posture and the mindset and the attitude and the approach of our savior and our king. You don't have to be afraid of the other party. You don't have to be afraid that they're coming to get you because God is coming to this world to get you and he sent his son for you and you can be forgiven of your sin and you can love people who are hard to love because you are hard to love and God loved you anyway. So we have an unprecedented opportunity and I don't want us to miss it. I want us to get this right.

So here's your homework assignment. Next time in your small group, next time when you're serving with somebody out here in guest services, some of you need to step up and serve in some of our family ministry environments. When you're serving, when you're in guest services, when you're sitting next to somebody and you see something hanging out their book, or they're reading some book and you're like, oh good, it's one of those. When you find somebody in one of our churches who's different than you, believes different than you, you know, sees the world different than you politically.

Here's what I want you to say. When you discover, I just want you to smile and say, I love my church, I love my church. Oh man, we are miles apart politically. We are miles apart in terms of life experience. We are miles apart in terms of how we see the world. Wow, I love my church. So let's be quick to listen, slow to speak. Let's not keep our distance. Let's be kind and then willing to call out unkindness when it emanates from our party of choice. Let's be honest but willing to call out dishonesty even when it comes, it emanates and originates in our party of choice, especially when it undermines somebody's dignity. Let's live and love and lead in such a way that Ecclesia of Jesus, the church of Jesus regains the moral high ground. And once again, is positioned to be the conscience of our nation. And let's do what's just, not what we can justify. Let's do what's responsible, not what's permissible. Let's do what's moral and not simply what's modeled.

And I love our country, goodness, I love our country, but let's not settle for law abiding citizens. And let's not even settle for patriotic Americans. Let's be better than that, let's be Jesus followers. Let's do everything without grumbling or arguing so that we may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in this crazy warped and crooked generation. And then because we're so different and yet we're so unified, we will shine among them like stars in the sky. And let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him, suffered the cross, gave his life. The one who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life, a ransom for many. Jesus, this is one of my favorite passages that Paul wrote, Jesus, who being in very nature God, never played the God card. He never walked in and said, corner table. I'm Jesus, ask those people to leave, okay? I'm Jesus, do you not know who I am? My goodness, I'm God in a body, what are you talking about?

He never, but listen, the most powerful person in the room never leveraged his power for his own benefit. He leveraged his power for your benefit and for mine. And he does now want you to follow me. Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used for his own advantage. Jesus who invited us, this is so unAmerican, but it's world, it's life changing. Jesus who invited us to abandon, to abandon our independence and to take up a cross and to follow him. That's the win, that's the win for the church, that's the win for the nation. And if Jesus was correct, and Jesus was always correct, if Jesus was correct, that's what's gonna be celebrated in the end. That's what's gonna be celebrated when the clock finally runs out and the game finally comes to an end. So let's do this, let's be amazing. Let's be the church.
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