Andy Stanley - Over and Under Reactions
Today, we are in part two of our series, "Reactions Speak Louder Than Words, Reactions Speak Louder Than Words". Now last week, if you were with us, you'll remember, and if not, I'm gonna catch you up, I introduced a concept, I just made it up, that I'm calling, that we're calling the over-underreaction. Now, if you weren't with us, again, I'm gonna explain what this is in just a minute, but at the end of part one last week, hopefully you remember this, I challenged you with a homework assignment, I suggested that we all practice the over-underreaction at home.
And I asked everybody to do this, and some of you did it because we heard from you. I asked everybody to think about or identify something that happens on a regular basis at home with your family or your roommate, something that happens on a regular basis, that perturbs you, disturbs you, I just said one too, just come up with one, perturbs you, disturbs you, upsets you, and it couldn't be the person, it has to be the thing the person does, okay? Perturbs you, disturbs you, upsets you or gets on your nerves, and then I wanted you to consider your normal reaction to whatever this is and then pause and ask the question, what would amazing and unprecedented look like? What would amazing and unprecedented look like? What would it sound like? What would cause the people in your family to go, "Wow, that is not what I was expecting". 'Cause generally when that happens, you know, you go to here, and this time you just kind of went to here.
What would cause the kids to wonder, "Who stole my father and who stole my mother and replaced them with these kind, gentle, patient people"? Students and children, to do something to respond in such a way that would cause your parents to react, like respond with, "What happened to my children? I mean, they must be up to something or on something because they just normally go to ten and they only went to a five and they were so polite". So to at least consider what would it look like to, as we're gonna talk about over-underreact, and then I asked you if you wouldn't mind to post your story. And many of you did, it was very interesting. And one of the earliest stories that came in was this one.
Here's what we got, I thought this was a great illustration. "It was less than 24 hours after Andy challenged us to consider our reactions that I had the exact situation occur that tends to push my buttons. It's a common occurrence for items to be left on our bottom stairs to be carried upstairs," nervous laughter, yes, she's not alone, "By someone later, but somehow that someone is almost always me". So real quick, who are the ones here that have to carry this stuff upstairs because your spouse or kids just leave this stuff on the bottom stairs? Yes, okay. Moving along. "There's something about how many times my husband and children walk by the shoes, the books, the toys, et cetera, seemingly oblivious to the mess that drives me crazy. Well after hearing the sermon," finally, someone has actually applying what I'm teaching, I think this is why I love this illustration, I just feel like I'm talking to myself most of the time. And I need to hear these messages myself, so I'm not complaining.
"Well after hearing the sermon on Sunday, I was headed up our stairs, once again, I was about to pick up the left behind items and start my fuming when I remembered the message". Cue the music, right? "And I took a deep breath and I filled my arms with discarded belongings and delivered them to their owners". I feel like I might have saved a marriage, I don't know, this is so epic. She's not finished, "My daughter's response, 'Oh, thanks mom. I was looking for those!'" "Well, they've been on the bottom step for a month, honey," she didn't say that, right? "'I was looking for those,' made me smile instead of the reaction I would have had otherwise".
So, could we give this stranger, yes, anonymous person a hand, yes. So why would I suggest such a homework assignment? Well, first of all, because we owe it to the people we live with, whether it's family or roommates, whatever, we owe to the people we live with to be the best version of ourselves, right? You owe it to them to be the best version of you. But the primary reason I suggested this homework assignment is that we were practicing, this was a practice round. We're practicing something that Jesus actually instructed His followers to do everywhere with everyone, everywhere with everyone. Now, quick disclaimer, if you're not a Christian or not a Jesus follower or you're not a religious person and you're watching because somebody's making you watch or you know, they're gonna feed you lunch or whatever, you just stumbled upon this broadcast, whatever, here's the thing, everything I say from this point forward is optional for you, you can pick and choose.
And there's some good stuff in here, in fact, just the exercise we just went through in terms of rethinking your reaction to some things that happened in your home, I mean, that's a healthy thing to do, somebody will thank you for it. But if you are a Jesus follower, if you're somebody who claims to be a Christian, not just somebody who believes something, but somebody who wants to live out the teaching of Jesus, what follows is not optional, this is required. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna practice now, not just home, but everywhere, what Jesus instructed His followers to do everywhere with everyone because He understood. He understood that while actions speak louder than words, reactions speak louder than either, actions speak louder than words, but our reactions speak louder than either. Because reactions cause people, especially certain kinds of reactions we're gonna talk about, they cause people to stop and stare. Like, if you've walked into the office and somebody's overreacting or having a reaction, you know, we just stop and stare.
Two types of reactions in particular 'cause people to stop and stare. First one I just mentioned is the overreaction. Again, we've all stopped in the grocery store, in the mall or you know, and even upstairs you hear this loud conversation you think, "Gosh, somebody's kinda wound up, somebody's overreacting". Overreactions are why we have to apologize sometimes, right? We have conversations that we need to have with people, but because we overreact, we have to then apologize even though we were right, we were right the wrong way. Have you ever been right the wrong way? You were over right, your volume got a little over right so you have to apologize.
But the other type of reaction that always gets, or usually gets people's attention, the one that Jesus is pointing us is what we call the over-underreaction. The over-underreaction is an unexpected, counterintuitive, "That's not what I thought was coming," remarkable reaction to disappointment, to being mistreated, unmet expectations, criticism, even betrayal, loss, rejection, this reaction that causes people to be surprised. Like, they're surprised, they see what happened to you and then they look at your reaction and they think, "Well, you should be angry," and you're not angry.
They look at what happened to you and they think, in fact, they may have been part of what happened to you and they think, "Well, you should be bitter, but you're not bitter. You should be demanding your way, but somehow you're not demanding your way. You should be broadcasting your grievances, you should be badmouthing him or her or that group of people. You should certainly hope they fail, in fact, you should facilitate or ensure that they fail. And then once they fail, you should celebrate their failure in light of how they treated you. But you aren't, you know, what's up? What are you up to you? You did what? You reacted how? Wait, you showed up for them after they walked away from you, you helped them after they hurt you? Wait, wait, wait, wait, you're telling me you apologized? You didn't owe them an apology. You apologized? Wait, you forgave them"?
Because Jesus viewed mistreatment, unjust, unfair, He viewed that for His followers as an opportunity, an opportunity to react in such a way that it catches people off guard. Because in that moment they recognize that that cause didn't warrant that effect. And His point in all this, as we talked about last time, this was the whole point of last time, His point was that our reactions are opportunities to reflect the Father, our Father in heaven, by responding like our Father in heaven. Because our heavenly Father's reaction to our sin, our broken promises, the deals we did with God then we didn't follow through on our deals, God's reaction to our sin and our failure is such that He wants us to reflect with that same sense of grace and mercy and patience, that He reflected toward us when He reacted to us. Because His reaction to us in our sin was unprecedented, it was undeserved.
Quick review from last week, and again, these are such familiar words, I'm gonna hit 'em real quick. Jesus is teaching the sermon on the mountain, He says, "'I tell you,'" again, we've all heard this, "'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'" Why? "'That you may be children of your Father in heaven.'" "The reason I want you to do this is because that's what your heavenly Father did for you and I want you to," here it is, this is Jesus' new covenant command, "I want you to do for others what my heavenly Father has done for you. You're not gonna return evil for evil, I want you to do unto others what your heavenly Father has done unto you. He loved you when you were an enemy. He's not a return evil for evil, get what you deserve Father". He says this, "'If you love those,'" here it is, Jesus says, "'If you just love those who love you, what recognition will you get?'"
Now, this is such a big deal. Jesus wants us to be recognized for something. What He wants us to be recognized for is not our judgemental attitude and judgemental spirit toward people who are outside our faith to begin with, unfortunately, that's what we're often recognized for, He wants us to be recognized for our unusual reactions to negative circumstances and negative people, to be recognized for how we didn't react. And again, if you're not a Christian or you're not a religious person or you used to be, I know, I understand, one of the reasons you push back on Christianity is the way that Christians have reacted toward you and the expectations they've put on you. And if again, you follow Jesus through the gospel, Jesus is like, "That's not what I want you to be known for. I want you to be known for love that is characterized by God's love for you, and I want your reactions to be so over-under that it gets people's attention and ultimately they give their attention to my Father and your Father in heaven".
Then Jesus said this and then we're gonna move on, He said, "'And if you welcome or associate with or lean into, if you welcome your own people,'" you know what your own people are? Those are the people that, well, they're your own people, you just relax, they're just like you, live like you, kind of look like you, behave like you, same values as you, they're just so comfortable you don't even have to work at it. He said, "'If you only welcome your own people, what are you doing more than others?'" Jesus says, "I want you to stand out, not because you're judgemental and not because you claim to be better, I want you to stand out because in every way you're more than, you're more than accommodating, you're more than forgiving, you're more than gracious, you're more than merciful, you're just more than".
So that was last week. He says, "I want your reactions to reflect the reactions of your heavenly Father toward your sin, I want those same reactions when things don't go your way, unjust, hurt, whatever it might be. I want your reactions to reflect the reactions of your Father in heaven. I want people to recognize you, recognize me by your reactions". But that's just the first part of this equation, there's something else at play that perhaps is more fundamental and more at the epicenter of what it means to be a Jesus follower and what it means to be a Christian. Because our reactions aren't just opportunities to reflect what God is like. Here's where we're gonna go for the next few minutes. Our reactions reflect our confidence or lack of confidence in God, our reactions. I mean, you can always tell something about a person by their reactions. We all know how to behave when behaving suits our purposes, right?
So our actions speak louder than words, but reactions speak louder than all of it. If you wanna know what a person's really like, watch their reactions, right? Our reactions say something to the people around us, whether we recognize it or not, our reactions say something to the people around us about really how confident we are in God or how much confidence we lack in God. Again, this is one of the reasons that people so easily dismiss Christianity. When things don't go our way as Christians, we have a tendency to react as if God is not in control, we have a tendency to react just like everybody else.
And for people outside our faith, of course, they're like, "I knew it, I knew it, you play the part, you're nice when you need to be nice and polite and all that, but boy, when you were under pressure, when things didn't go on your way, when she walked out, when you were betrayed, when I treated you unkindly, I saw what's really in there, and what's in you is the same thing that's in me and there's no difference between us. Your faith is just something you're leveraging for your own benefit, there's nothing to it".
Our reactions reflect who we believe controls outcomes. That just to be honest, I mean, and I think you can relate to this, I overreact when I'm convinced that things are spinning out of control, but specifically, I overreact when I think things are spinning out of my control. So here's the question, we're gonna come back to this at the end, but I just wanna put this out there for the next few minutes. What do your reaction, this is for Jesus followers only, for Christians. I mean, everybody can play, but for Christians specifically, what do your reactions say about your confidence in God? As a parent, as an employer, as an employee, as a citizen, if somebody just looked at the way that you react physically, online, wherever it might be, what do your reactions, what do my reactions say about our confidence in God? And how would you react, and how would I react to disappointment and heartbreak and being treated unfairly or unkindly?
If I was absolutely convinced that God is with me and you were absolutely convinced that God is with you, if you were absolutely convinced, as the New and Old Testament teach, that God in some way, shape or form, determines outcomes. What if you really believed what the apostle Paul wrote? This famous statement that so many of us have heard so many times, many of us can quote it from memory, that all things actually work out together for good for those who are loved by God and those who love God and are called according to His purpose. What if you really believed that God was in the details and God could work through the details for His glory and ultimately your good? If you were absolutely convinced of that, if I was absolutely convinced of that, how would I react and how would that impact my reactions and your reactions?
This is the point that Jesus made throughout His ministry, it's what He invited His first century followers to embrace, and it's what He invites us, in fact, He requires us to embrace this. And, when you see this played out, if you ever see this played out in real life or you read a story about how this is played out with a Jesus follower, it's so powerful, it's amazing. I wanna share a story and I know I've shared this before, but I don't remember how long ago it was so just bear with me if you've heard me share this before. But this was such a defining moment for me. I was in my mid twenties, I was with my dad and he's a pastor and he had been nominated to be the president of his denomination, this huge denomination, and they were about to have a big gathering in an arena.
There were 35,000 delegates gonna show up to vote, and the denomination was kind of split down the middle, and there was a group that loved my dad and what he represented, there was a group that did not love my dad and hated kind of, not hate it, but just were not for what he represented. And so the day before the election, there was a news conference, so I was with him. So I stood in the back of the room against the wall, and he was at a big conference table, and across the conference table from him was a guy who did not like him at all and made that very evident. There was four or five, maybe six or eight agencies there kind of covering this, it was kind of a big deal, this again, long, long time ago. And my dad, they asked him some questions, and then the other guy who represented the other side began talking about my dad.
Now, I don't know if you've ever been in a room where somebody is critical of one of your parents or anybody that you love and respect. And I was so mad, and again, I wasn't necessarily supposed to be there, but I was standing against the wall and I could see through the crowd, I could see my dad's face in the back of the other guy's head. And this guy was just going on or on or on, and my dad is just sitting there so calm, almost passive. And I just, I wanted to kind of, you know, make my way like, I mean, it was very difficult not to get involved. I'm like, 'cause I knew my dad, I knew none of the things the guy was saying was true. He attacked his character, his motives.
Anyway, so when he finishes, the reporter turns to my dad, I remember her name and what channel it was and what city we were in, I won't give all those details, but this was, again, somewhat of a defining moment for me as a man, as a pastor. This woman turned to my dad and said, "Dr. Stanley, do you think you'll win tomorrow"? 'Cause the next day was this election, "Do you think you'll win tomorrow"? And I'll never forget what he said, he said, "If I win, I win. If I lose, I win because my responsibility's to obey God and leave outcomes to Him". Yeah. "Oh, so you're not gonna react to the outcome"? "No, no, no, I'm not gonna react to the outcome because I don't believe a group of delegates in an auditorium in an arena determine the outcome of my life, so I'm gonna do what I know God wants me to do, and then I'll accept the outcome as coming from the hands of my heavenly Father because God determines. I'm just gonna do what I'm supposed to do, I'm not responsible for outcomes".
I will never forget that. So many times in my life when I wanna jump in, respond and react, take the bull by the horns, you know, control things, manipulate things, it's like, wait a minute, wait a minute, Andy, do you control outcomes? No, in fact, my story, every time I try to control outcomes, they do not get better, they get more complicated, generally they get worse, but they definitely get more complicated and then I'm having to apologize even though I think I was right because I'm over right, right? Okay. So here's the thing, in response to criticism, I know this is hard, in response to criticism, in response to being treated unfairly, unjustly, in the response to loss, we should, as Jesus followers, press pause for at least 30 seconds and ask, "Okay, before I say what I'm thinking about saying, react the way I wanna react, react the way everybody else expects me to react, react the way I would be justified in reacting, what would it look like, what would it sound like to respond like God actually is in control of outcomes"?
Now, guys, okay, I think all of us, but men in particular, if this seems so weak, so passive, just kind of ridiculous like, "Andy, I don't know what world you live in, I guess you live in pastor world and I guess all those things kind of magically work out in pastor world," but I don't live in pastor world, like you, I live in the real world, I get that. And here's what's so fascinating, check it out for yourself, I would love for you to. That is exactly how it struck Jesus first century followers. This is amazing to me and maybe I missed something, but best I can tell, there is no evidence that anyone, there's no evidence that anyone following Jesus took any of this teaching seriously, not one shred of evidence. They are following Him around for three to three and a half years and they never, ever, get this, they never attempt to apply it, it's like they were just like us. It's like, "Hey Rabbi, you know, wanna be Messiah, I hope that works out for you, that is not how it works in the real world".
There's no evidence that they went the extra mile for anybody, there's no evidence they ever turned the other cheek, there's no evidence that they ever took, "Love your enemies," seriously. In fact, just the opposite. Case and point, and I referenced this a few weeks ago, but we didn't look at the text, but it is worth going back to. At the end of, I mean, this is just how realistic the New Testament presents His followers, okay? These aren't magic people with superpowers, I mean, these are just normal people, and they would listen to Jesus, say these things and think, "It doesn't work, it doesn't work that way, that's not how life works and I'm not even gonna try to work it".
So at the end of His ministry, they had been with Him three to three and a half years. He's on His way to Jerusalem, in fact, Luke who investigated and got all these stories, and in fact, I feel confident that this little piece of narrative is a piece of narrative that Jesus' closest followers were like, "Luke, don't include that. I mean, there's so much other stuff to talk about. Do you have to include this"? Luke's like, "Well, apparently this is what happened". Luke tells us that Jesus resolutely, this is so powerful, sets out for Jerusalem. So He's done His ministry, He's in Galilee, now He's gonna go to Jerusalem and He's gonna go and He knows what's gonna happen to Him once He gets to Jerusalem. So it's like, "I'm making a beeline for Jerusalem".
In fact, the accounts of this journey to Jerusalem, Jesus is like way out ahead of His gang, it's like He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem where He's gonna be arrested and crucified. But anyway, He's on His way to Jerusalem, and then here's what happened. So the direct route is right through Samaria, which, and as you know, the Jews and Samaritans in the first century did not get along for a variety of reasons. So here here's what happened. So He is on His way to Jerusalem, He's gonna get there as soon as He can for Passover. "And he sent messengers on ahead who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him".
So he sends two of His guys or three of His guys ahead to say, "Hey, let them know there's a big group coming, we need a place to stay, we need a place to eat, we're willing to pay," but there aren't hotels. But hospitality was a big deal in ancient times because there weren't hotels and it was dangerous to spend the night on the road, on the highway. And so, He sends a group ahead to give 'em a heads up, "Hey, a group's coming". It's a big group could have been 20, 30 people, we don't know how many people were traveling with Jesus at this point. "But the people there," in the Samaritan village, "Did not welcome him because he was heading for Jerusalem".
He was heading to Jerusalem for Passover. This was so offensive to the Samaritans because the Samaritans viewed a different mountain, Mount Gerizim, as the holy site chosen by God. The Jews chose Mount Moriah and said, "No, it's Mount Moriah is the holy site". And so they'd built a temple on Mount Moriah. So the fact that Jesus and His guys are going to Jerusalem, I mean, that was just offensive, it was just in your face, "You're wrong about what God is like and God's people, and so, we're on our way to..." So they're like, "Nope, you can't stay with us". So they've responded with inhospitality, which was so offensive in ancient times. Because again, hospitality to travelers on the road was expected.
Now these guys have been with Jesus three years, they've heard the sermon, you know, we call it Sermon on the Mount. That was Jesus' standard message. Wherever He went, we believe, scholars believe this was Jesus' standard message. It's only recorded for us, the whole thing in Matthew, part of it in Luke, but we think, most people think, for three years, this was Jesus' core message. So the disciples have sat through this sermon over and over and over. "When the disciples, James and John saw this," pause. This is John who, as an old man, after the resurrection brings us the phrase that everyone's heard that no one had heard before, John is the one who introduces us to the concept that God is love.
This is the same John that pinned John 3:16. "For God so love the world that He gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life". Same guy, pre-resurrection. "When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and destroy them?'" Same guy. It's like, what? "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, hey, we'll teach them to offend our rabbi. Would you just empower us for just a minute? You don't have to do it, you stand back, we don't want you to be associated with this. Could we just stand outside the city and call down fire and burn up every single living person in the whole Samaritan village because they wouldn't let us spend the night? Don't you think that would be appropriate? I mean, there's an Old Testament precedent for this".
And Jesus is thinking, "I am like the worst rabbi in the history of rabbis. I mean, not only is that inappropriate, it's a hundred percent opposite of everything you've seen me do, everything you've seen me pray, everything you've heard me pray, everything I've taught". "But Jesus turned to them and he rebuke them". And the Greek word here is the word that he always used in the gospels for rebuking demons, it's like the strongest kind of rebuke. "Like, no, we're not gonna call down fire and burn up the village. Have you not heard anything I've said, I don't return evil for evil. And if you're gonna follow me, you gotta give that up as well. That's not how it's done in my kingdom, that's just another version of kingdoms of this world. I'm introducing something brand new, I want you to respond to people the way your heavenly Father has responded to you and your sin and your brokenness and your inconsistency, your broken promises.
So no, we're not gonna call on fire from heaven, John". Can you imagine how stupid and all these guys must have felt? We're gonna get to that in a second. On the other side of the resurrection, they're like, "Goodness gracious, He was patient with us". Then he and his disciples, they just went to another village. From that village, they make their way to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, they watch Jesus apply His teaching in the most extreme ways imaginable. When they come to arrest Him in the garden at night, He doesn't resist. The 11 apostles, they resist, they resist and run, Jesus doesn't resist. It's interesting in the gospels that it's very clear that the temple authority sent a small army to arrest Jesus. Why?
Well, they assumed He would react like they would if somebody came to arrest them in the middle of the night. But Jesus was nothing like them, He was more than, He over-underreacted, He surrendered. And they beat Him and they flogged, they didn't flog Him, they beat Him and they mistreat Him and they accuse Him of all kinds of stuff and they have paid off witnesses, and Jesus just doesn't react. And eventually they take Him to Pilate, you know this story, because they need permission from the Roman governor to execute Jesus. And Pilate doesn't wanna execute Jesus. He kept saying, "Okay, granted you don't like Him, granted He's offended you, granted He claims to be somebody that maybe He's not, but this isn't worthy of a death sentence". Pilate just could not understand. "Why do you hate this man so much"?
So Pilate in an attempt to at least save, you know, a little bit of Jesus' life, sends Jesus out to be flogged. People die from flogging, you know the details, we've talked about that before. Then he brings Him back to the crowd hoping they'll be like, "Ugh, goodness, that is enough, we're done here". And they're like, "No, we want you to crucify Him". Pilate's like, "Wait, you want me to crucify someone we just flogged? What is wrong with you, people? What is it about this man you hate so much"? Then he calls Jesus in. Now at this point, Jesus is literally bleeding to death slowly, He's bleeding out. And Pilate questions Him and Jesus won't answer his questions. And in this exchange, we get just a little bit of a clue as to why Jesus was able to over-underreact. We catch a glimpse, honestly, at the perspective that He has invited us to adopt in far less extreme circumstances.
Pilate says this, this is so powerful to me. He says, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Hey, look, hey, do you refuse to speak to me? Don't you realize who I am? Don't you realize I have the power to either free you or crucify you? Do you not recognize I control the outcome of this situation? Look at me, answer my questions". But did he? Did Pilate really have the power to determine the outcome of this situation? Gee, this is why this is so powerful. And again, I would never get up and suggest any of this to you if it was just based on my insight or my experience, because your experience, for many of you, it's far more diverse, it's far more extreme, you've faced things, dealt with things I have never dealt with, that I probably will never deal with, so please don't hear this coming from me, this is just what it means to follow Jesus.
If Jesus believed that Pilate determined the outcome of His story, He would've reacted like everybody else reacts in this situation, He would've been begging for a quick death. But Jesus didn't see it that way, Jesus invites us not to see it that way either. Jesus answered, this is so powerful. John had insiders, that's how we know this happened. Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above". Now, when Jesus says this, Pilate's initial reaction or response or his instinct is, "Oh, you're trying to minimize me. You're basically saying, 'Pilate, you're just a governor. The only reason you have any power over me is because of Rome. If it weren't for Rome, hey, there's nothing special about you, Pilate, you're just another man, you're just another cog in the wheel, you're just another servant of the empire, you're not special, you just have power on loan from Rome.'"
But we know from what happens next, that may have been a fleeting thought in Pilate's mind, "Oh, you're just comparing my power to the..." But there was something about this man, there was something about the look in Jesus' eyes, there was something about his piece that unnerved Pilate. And Pilate realizes He's not talking about Rome, this fearless, courageous, irritating rabbi is referring to a power that goes beyond Rome, beyond the emperor, beyond the empire. And John tells us that in this moment, Pilate is now afraid of Jesus, because Pilate recognizes, "I may not have as much power as I think". "From then on," the text tells us, "From then on, he tries to set Jesus free," but he could not because he did not have as much power as he thought he did.
Jesus is crucified, you know that, nobody would make this up, He forgive His crucifiers on the spot. And on the other side of the resurrection, Peter, who is so embarrassed by his reaction to Jesus' arrest, Peter who fled, Peter, who denied even knowing Him, I mean, I'm sure Peter's like, "Hey guys, when you write your accounts, could you just leave that out? I mean, please don't". And then they're like, "Peter, we gotta put this in". Peter's like, "Okay, put it in". Again, this is why you should take the gospel seriously. Nobody writes themself into the story as a hero because there were no heroes, there were no believers, nobody took this teaching seriously, nobody, until after the resurrection. And after the resurrection, all of a sudden this begins to make sense for these men and the women that followed Jesus.
And so, when Peter writes a letter, actually dictates a letter to a group of Christians, here's what he writes. And remember this, I'm not reading the Bible, okay? This isn't the Bible. I'm reading what Peter dictated about his own personal experience with Jesus that was later included in what we call the Bible. And the reason I say that is not to discount the value of the Bible, I read it every single day, preach from it every single weekend, but I want you to put this in historical context because it's so powerful, I don't want you to miss it. Because when we look at the Bible sometimes it's like a spiritual magic book, and Peter's like, "No, we're real people with real lives and real fears and real concerns and real doubts. But I'm telling you, when you see someone crucified and die and then you have breakfast with them on the beach in a few days, everything comes together for you, okay? You take everything that person said seriously. And here's my perspective on the other side of the resurrection, as embarrassed as I am by my reaction to Jesus' arrest and crucifixion".
Here's what Peter writes, he says, "When they hurled their insults at him," Peter was there for this, he saw this. "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate," just like He had taught us for three years. "When he suffered, he made no threats," just like He taught us over and over and over and we just didn't get it, because who does that? Who responds that way? Who reacts that way? That's not the way the world works. Instead, again, with the perspective of seeing Him die and seeing Him rise, "Instead," and here's our clue, okay? Here's our clue, here once again is our peak behind the curtain to know what was going on in the heart and the mind of our savior. This is the perspective that empowers you, this is the perspective that empowers you to opt for the over-underreaction.
You ready? Here it is, I love this phrase. "Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly". Peter's like, "We finally got it. He never lived a day of His life assuming that anyone other than His heavenly Father determined outcomes". See, when I finally in those moments, when I paused long enough to do this, and I'm just as, believe me, I fail this so often, but in those moments where I get it right, when I'm willing to pause and decide that you don't control outcomes, and circumstances don't ultimately control outcomes, and being treated unjustly or unfairly, or being criticized, that those people don't... When I entrust myself to my heavenly Father who judges justly, do you know what I'm then free to do? I'm free to respond to you and to my accusers and to those who've mistreated me the way my Father in heaven responded and reacted to me. Because in that moment, I take control away from the people that I'm tempted to believe have control over my life.
In those moments, to embrace Jesus' words, I'm willing to acknowledge that, you know what? They have no power over me. But when we react in like-kind, when we react to people's circumstances, you know what we do? We basically give them power and control over us. And these are the very people we don't wanna have power and control over us, we declare they determine outcomes, they control our future, they're in charge. And Jesus invites us and instructs us to live as if that is not the case. Because, look up here, that is not the case. And after the resurrection this becomes clear, suddenly everything Jesus said on the sermon on the mount, it's like, oh, this makes sense. His invitation to love and serve an enemy just like He loved and served an enemy, just like He loved and served me. The invitation, this is the big one, not to worry, not to worry.
Finally, we understand why we shouldn't worry because God controls the outcomes, I don't need to worry, I don't need to empower my circumstances or the people around me with control because God ultimately determines outcomes so I don't need to worry, or Jesus' most off repeated command, "Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, do not be afraid". And He could have added, "Do not be afraid even though there's something to be afraid of". Because the thing you fear doesn't ultimately determine your destiny. And Jesus says, "When you can step back into this reality, you'll have the ability and the margin to over-underreact to the people and the circumstances around you, because you are no longer empowering them with your future, your destiny and potentially your legacy".
His invitation to embrace the habit of the over-underreaction made perfect sense after the resurrection, and to see slights and criticism, unjust, unkind is opportunities to amaze and confound. It finally dawned on His first century followers, and I hope it dawns on me and I hope it dawns on you that this, this is what it looks like to be Christian, this is what it looks like to follow Jesus, that we would be recognized, we would be recognized, not first and foremost by what we believe. That's what we always wanna lead with. Here's what I believe, here's what I think. That we would be recognized first and foremost by our unusual reaction, our over-underreaction to criticism, circumstances, loss, even abandonment. This is what it looks like to let our light, we talk about it all the time, right? To let our light shine in such a way that people see our reaction, see our good works and begin to connect the dots. Because light is not noticeable in the light, right? Light is only noticeable in the dark during the season of disappointment, the season of loss, the season of being treated unfairly, unkindly.
So once again, I want us to practice the over-underreaction. This time, we're gonna practice it out in the wild. I want you to keep practicing at home, right? But I want you to practice it at work and in the neighborhood, even with your neighborhood association. Whoa, that'll take a lot of faith, but you can do it, I know you can. Do you know where I want some of you to practice it? I want you to practice it online. Yeah, I know. "You just took all the fun out of my whole life. Andy, you don't understand how much joy I get saying to people I've never met things I would like to say to them that I would never actually say to them in person". Like, wait, wait, what? Say that again.
"Yeah, I know, I get so much joy out of criticizing people online. Now, if I saw 'em in person, I wouldn't criticize 'em to their face, I just like to do it online". Really? Just like Jesus? No, so this is our opportunity, this is our opportunity at work, at school, extended family, your frenemies. You have some frenemies? Friends who aren't really friends, they just act like friends, they wanna be like you, but they can't be like you or there's something going on, everybody smiles? Even with 'em. So let's pre-decide. Here's what I want you to pre-decide, it's so powerful. Just try it for a week, try it for a day. Just pre-decide. He's not my lord, she's not my lord, the company I work for, they're not my lord, these circumstances, it's not my lord, even this illness, it's not my lord. None of these people, none of these things determine outcomes for me.
So I'm not gonna respond in like-kind, I'm not gonna grant them the privilege of lordship, instead, I'm gonna love and serve, I'm gonna pray for 'em, I'm gonna go the extra mile like my savior king did for me, like our Father in heaven does for us, who loves and serves us in spite of us, who loves and serves me in spite of me. To use Peter's words, I love this phrase, this part, I've just incorporated this into my personal prayer life, to decide ahead of time that we're gonna entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly. You know, in the morning:
Heavenly Father, some stuff's gonna happen today, it's not gonna go my way, the kids, you know, my husband, my wife, work, you know, 'cause today I just want you to know upfront, today, I'm entrusting myself to you who judged justly. And so, because I'm entrusting myself to you, I don't have to react to them the way they deserve or the way they expect.
So let's over-underreact in a way that causes people to wonder. And perhaps over time, they'll begin to connect the dots between our unexpected reactions and our Father, our gracious Father in heaven. So, one last time, what do your reaction say about your confidence in God? What do your reaction say about your confidence in God? And we will pick it up right there next time as we conclude, "Reactions Speak Louder Than Words".
Heavenly Father, easy to talk about, not easy to walk out of here and do. And, Father, for the man or woman whose circumstances are so dire, the marriage is so tough right now, the kids are so prodigal right now, the job is so unpredictable right now, whatever the circumstances, would you give us just the grace to pause in the moment and ask, "What would it look like if I was absolutely confident that God is with me"? And give us the grace and the wisdom, the courage, the ability to step into that space and to acknowledge that you are our Lord, and we are now free to love as you've called us to love, to love as you loved us. In Jesus name we pray these things. Amen.