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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - The Enemy Within

Andy Stanley - The Enemy Within

Andy Stanley - The Enemy Within
TOPICS: Ekklesia

So, I don't know about you, but I had the unique, or not, it's not, not unique, but I had the privilege of having parents who prayed for me and prayed for my sister. And sometimes they would tell us what they're praying for us for. And maybe you had that same privilege. Maybe you had praying parents, maybe not necessarily Christian parents, but your parents prayed for you. Well, I guarantee you they prayed for you at some point, right? They, during middle school and high school, even if they didn't believe in God, it's like, oh, God, you know, everybody looks up and pray. But it would be interesting to know and maybe you do know 'cause I know my parents would tell us, my sister and me, they would tell us what they're praying for us for.

And sometimes, I think it was to encourage us, we're praying for you. And at other times it's like, here's what we're saying. So you know, you need to line up, you know, line up with your behavior anyway. But what do you think your parents, if you didn't know, what do you think they prayed for you when they prayed for you? Because I think this is just my opinion, I think it's kind of universal. I think all parents kind of pray the same thing for their kids. Parents ask God for what they're convinced is most important for their child's welfare specifically in the moment. I mean, my prayers for my three kids reflect what I'm most concerned about in that particular season of their life, in that moment, right?

So, you know, when they're young, it's like health and safety. And then when they're getting older, you start praying about their friend and you pray about their grades a lot, then you pray that they'll meet somebody and find their person. And I think this, that's kind of universal. So if you have parents that prayed for you, they prayed about the things that concerned them most in whatever season of life you were in. So similarly, and this is what we're gonna talk about for the next few minutes. When Jesus in the first century prayed for His children, so to speak, they weren't really His children, but His followers. And not even just His first-century followers, but when He prayed, as we're gonna see for His followers in the centuries and in the generations that would come, what do you think He prayed for? Well, He focused on the thing that actually concerned Him the most about His first-century followers and about His 21st century followers. And it's a rhetorical question, so you don't need to answer out loud, but just think about it for a minute.

What would you think Jesus prayed for His first-century and 21st-century followers? In other words, what was His greatest concern? Or another way of saying it is, what do you think Jesus thought was the greatest threat to this brand-new movement as it rolled out, not just in His generation, but in the generations to come? What concerned Him or what did He see as the greatest threat to the Jesus movement? Well, we're about to find out today, and it is so important and I'm so glad you're watching and I'm so glad you're in the building with us as we wrap up our series, "Ekklesia".

Now the good news about this series is for the rest of your life, you know at least one Greek word and you know what it means, right? So the word Ekklesia, if you've not been with us, is actually the Greek term used to describe the Jesus movement in the first century. In our English New Testaments, you find the word church, but the word church isn't a translation of this Greek term. The Greek term actually meant an assembly. It was just a common term that meant an assembly of people that came together for a specific purpose. And the Ekklesia of Jesus was the Jesus movement that was launched for the specific purpose of reaching the world and impacting the world with the kingdom of God.

The kingdom values, the kingdom ethics, and the message that God had come into the world to do something for the world. It was the word describing His outward-facing. We saw this in the first few weeks, Outward-Facing, Multi-Cultural day one. It was Multi-Cultural, Multiplying Movement. And this movement was informed by His teaching for sure. But it was inspired by His life and His death and His resurrection as we find outlined and described in the Gospels. And in this series, what we've been doing, if you haven't been with us. And if you haven't been with us, I sure hope you'll catch up or go back and listen to some of these messages, especially if you're part of one of our network of churches. Because this series is so important for where we're going as a group of churches.

But in this series, essentially what we've been doing is looking back to ensure that we stay on track. That we've been looking back at the first-century church and asking the question, "What did they know that we don't seem to know or have forgotten"? We're actually looking back to the actions and specifically the reactions of Jesus' earliest followers, the men and the women who sat at His feet, who understood clearly what He was about, what He wanted them to do, and what the Ekklesia of Jesus, the Jesus movement was supposed to be about in every single generation. Because, and you know this, there are different expressions of the Christian faith. And while the expressions of faith have changed through the generations, if you travel around the world and go to different churches, you'll see different expressions of the Christian faith.

We don't baptize the same way. We don't do communion all the same way. We don't even all use the same Bible. But while there, the expressions of faith have changed through culture and changed through time, these essential element of the Jesus movement has not changed. His mandate for His movement hasn't changed, which means we need to look back in order to stay on track to ensure that we as a group of people, and we as a network of churches are in sync with the heart of God and in sync with Jesus' original intent when He launched this movement that nobody thought was gonna survive the first century. Nobody.

So, we want to guard against the thing in order for it to continue to survive, I should say, we need to continue to guard against the thing that Jesus felt like or believe was the greatest threat to His movement then, and clearly believe that would continue to be the greatest threat to His movement and the ensuing generation. So here's the question we're gonna answer. What did Jesus consider to be the greatest threat to Ekklesia? And I think most of you know the answers. The answer, He made it clear in the text, the greatest threat to the Ekklesia of Jesus is woke Democrats. Right? No, I'm just kidding, it obviously, we know the answer. It's MAGA Republicans. These are the greatest threat to the Ekklesia of Jesus.

ctually, I think, here's what I think. I think it's the indecisive independence because they won't make up their minds, okay, they're not left or right, they're not hot or cold. And Jesus said, "If you're not hot or cold, you're lukewarm," He is gonna spew you out of His mouth. That's the greatest threat to the church today. Okay, so the church isn't boring today so far. Anyway, so anyway, when I was growing up, we had a different answer when I was growing up as a kid. What I heard from church leaders all the time, the threat to the church, especially, the church in America, it's the godless humanist because they took prayer out of school except during exams. Knife-innings and fourth-quarters, then everybody was encouraged to pray on both sides.

You know, regardless who you're praying for, right? So, seriously, what did Jesus consider the greatest threat to the Ekklesia? What did Jesus consider the greatest threat to His movement to be? So I want you to pay close attention to today that the challenge with today's message is, I don't wanna overstate it and lose you. I don't wanna understate it. And let's walk away and go, "I don't think we have anything to worry about because this is a big deal". It is a really big deal in this season, in the life of our country. It's a big deal in the fact that we're in the middle of a political season. And here's why this is a big deal. I'm gonna just spell this out line-by-line 'cause I want to be clear. Special interest groups. Special interest groups around us attempting to use us, have conspired to convince us that the greatest threat to the Ekklesia of Jesus is actually outside of us.

Special interest groups, political, some political, some not political around us attempting to use us, to use the church, to use Christians, to use different pockets of Christianity, have conspired to convince us. It's like they're spending a lot of money to convince you and to convince me, oh, my goodness, there's something to be afraid of. But don't worry, they're here to save the day. That the greatest threat to the Ekklesia of Jesus is outside of us. And these special interest groups and political groups and politicians and men and women who claim to be leaders, they promise to protect us from those on the other side who were attempting to destroy us and undermine our religious liberty and undermine the success of the church or our freedom to worship.

But if you've learned anything in this series, and I'm not, and the problem is of a message like this is like we, you're gonna try to read between the lines. I'm talking about people from both sides. This has been going on since, you know, the beginning almost of the nation, okay? But here's the thing. If you've learned anything from this series, if you'll just read the Book of Acts, the question is this, does a movement... Does a movement that started 2,000 years ago by somebody who was a nobody in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by 12 other nobodies, sandwiched in between the Roman Empire and the temple.

Does that movement who now has adherence in every single country in the world and in most communities, in every large city in the world, does that movement need protecting from a political party by another political party? Or to use Bible words? Does the Lion of Judah need a security team? Are we that fragile? Are we that dependent? Are we just hanging by a thread? And if somebody doesn't come to the rescue, the Ekklesia of Jesus that shaped the world is gonna fall apart and it's gonna go away? The answer is no. But when Christians, or when church leaders in particular... But when Christians or groups of churches begin to think that way and embrace that way of thinking, those Christians and those Christian leaders become part of the problem, the threat to the Ekklesia of Jesus, the threat to the Jesus movement is not out there.

But when Christians fall to that propaganda, and it's, I mean, it's being spun up constantly and will continue to be, it's not ever gonna go away. But when Christians buy into an ideology that a political party is the primary threat to Ekklesia, you ready for this? We become the threat. We become the threat to this movement that most of us claim to be a part of. Again, I wanna spell it out. A Christian or a group of Christians or a church leader, but a Christian who is convinced, who's allowed themselves to be convinced that an ideology or a political party is the primary threat to the Ekklesia of Jesus. That person, that group, that leader becomes a threat. And let me tell you why this is true. Because if I'm convinced the threat is out there, I quit paying attention to what's going on in here.

When I'm convinced there's a group out there and they're coming to take us away, oh, my, and they're coming to get us and they're trying to, as soon as there is an enemy out there, this is true for all of us. As soon as there's an enemy out there, I quit paying attention to what's going on in here. This is why, and I know you've heard it a 1,000 times, but a little bit different context. This is one of the reasons why I think it's the primary reason why, but we'll just say one. This is one of the reasons why Jesus said something that took His audience's breath away. I think they just stood back like you are kidding, especially in the context in which He said it. And again, we don't like it. But here's, He's trying to guard us against this. When He said, "Love your enemy". Just because somebody considers you their enemy, don't return the favor.

If you consider an enemy an enemy, if you consider a group your enemy, you will treat them like an enemy. And when you do... When you do, you've lost the storyline, you've lost the plot line. "When you consider a group your enemy," He says to the church leaders, He says to Christians, He says to the church, "Hey, once you consider a group your enemy, you will eventually," and this is what's happening right now in our country. And to be honest, some of us are guilty of this. Once you have an enemy in sight, you will eventually, you can't help it. You'll eventually adopt the tone and the posture and the language and the approach of your perceived enemy. You will become like them. And when you become like them, and when I become like them, we are no longer following our King. I'm no longer acting and reacting like my King. And this is hard.

And so He says, "No, no, no, no, no. They may consider you a threat. They may consider you an enemy, but I'm telling you, you don't just put up with them. You aggressively, proactively love them so you don't become like them. Because even if you're on the right side of the argument, if you become like them, you've lost the plot line. I've not come to create". He would say another version of Rome 1.0, now we're gonna have 2.0. This isn't another win-lose situation. This is the kingdom of God that everybody is invited to participate in. There are no enemies for God. So love the whole, you know, rebel race that He came and gave His life for them, for us, for me, and for you. He says, "Now you're my followers. So you don't have enemies, you don't have groups you're against. You are to demonstrate the same kind of love toward people that I demonstrated toward you".

That's the plotline, that's the storyline. That's what ultimately change and continues to change the world. So what is the greatest threat? The Ekklesia. What is the greatest threat to the church if it's not out there, what is it Jesus tells us? I'm gonna read it to you. We're so fortunate. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the fourth Gospel writer also wrote First, Second, Third John. Most people think He wrote the Book of Revelation that John, he actually documented a prayer that Jesus prayed right at the end of His public ministry. He's praying, and apparently, He prayed out loud or somehow John was able to write this down or write this out, or perhaps this was a prayer that Jesus prayed multiple times and John was able to memorize parts of it. But He brings us to it, brings it to us, and it's right at the end.

I mean, Jesus is about to allow Himself to be arrested and give His life as a ransom for the world. And Jesus' prayer in John 17 is a lot like a parent's prayer. It was informed by what concerned Him the most. And we're gonna jump right into the middle. You should read the whole thing at some point, but we're just gonna hop, skip, and jump because it's so long. It's amazing. Here's what He says, and we're jumping into the part where He's praying for His first-century followers, His first-century disciples and apostles. Here's what He says. He says, "For I, Jesus, dear Heavenly Father, you know, Heavenly Father, for I gave them," talking about His disciples. "I gave them the words that you gave me".

In other words, You said it to me and I said it to them, and they accepted them. They accepted the words that were coming from me as if they were coming from you. They knew back then, of course, when this was being prayed, they weren't so sure anymore 'cause things weren't going well. "They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me, Holy Father". He prays, "I want you to protect these guys. Protect these young men. Protect them by the power of Your Name and the name that You gave me. So that," okay, here it is, purpose statement. "I want you to protect them by the power of Your Name so that this is the result of Your protection".

The little Greek word is t It means to stand guard over or to stand watch over. He's saying, "God, Father, I want You to protect these men," to which we should say, "From what"? Or "Protect them for what? What's Your concern"? And here it is. For them. And that's what we're gonna see in just a minute for us, for me, and for you. "I want You to protect them," here it is ready, "So that they may be one as we are one". Not one in essence, covered that. One in, as we're gonna see, one in purpose, oneness of purpose. Just like Father, He says, "You sent me into the world with a purpose. Your purpose is my purpose. I'm gonna send them into the world and I want their purpose to be the purpose I gave them that You gave me. We're gonna be united around the same purpose".

Jumping down to verse 18, He goes on, He says this: "As you," this is amazing, this, if you're a Christian, this is just amazing. "As You sent me into the world," He's talking to His Heavenly Father, "As You sent me into the world," for the same purpose. "The same reason You sent me into the world. I've sent them into the world". In other words, this is amazing that we as followers of Jesus, the Ekklesia, the assembly of Jesus, that we as the assembly of Jesus are to continue the work that Jesus began, which is what? It's representing the Father to the world. This is what God is like. Here's how the kingdom of God operates on planet Earth until Jesus returns. This is what it looks like to follow Jesus. This is what the love of Jesus looks like.

This is what the love of God acts like. This is what the love of God reacts like. And you can consider me an enemy, but I'm not gonna return the favor because this is what the love of God looks like on planet Earth is living out those kingdom values. And then, He gets to us all this time, He's been praying for that group of guys that surrounding Him. He says this, "My prayer," this is so amazing, "My prayer of everything I've prayed so far. My prayer is not for them alone". For these 12, "I pray also for those," this is us. "I pray also for those who will in the future believe in me through their message... The next generation and the generation that would believe after that generation, and the generation that would believe through the testimony of that generation, that all of them, that every generation, that every person that comes to believe that You sent me, that all of them may be one. One in purpose. Father, just as You are in me and I am in You," again, oneness of purpose.

And then He reveals, this is so big. Then He reveals why this is so important. Why do they need to be as one with me as I am with You? Why do we have to have oneness of purpose, why? Why is this important? In other words, what's at stake? What happens if this doesn't happen? What happens if, God, if You don't answer my prayer, if there's not oneness of purpose? He says, "Here's what's at stake, and this is it. This is why we gather, this is why we worship. This is why we sing. So that the world may believe that You have sent me," He says, "The reason there has to be oneness between me and them and them and me, and You is the result of that oneness. The result of that oneness is that people are convinced that You sent me and to the world".

The purpose of unity and the result of the kind of oneness He's talking about is that our message is believable. That our message, as strange as parts of it are, are actually something people can grasp and understand and come to believe that unity or oneness is mission-critical. That our oneness authenticates, this is His point, that our oneness with the Father and our oneness of purpose authenticates our claims about the unity of the Father and the Son I in them, He goes on, He says, "I in them and you in me," here it is. "So that," another purpose clause. "So that they may be brought to complete unity". He says, "I want all of my followers on the same page rallied around, not the details, I want them rallied around the one thing that is most convincing about who I actually am".

And why unity? Because think about this. Imagine, it's hard to imagine. But imagine at a national scale, much less a global scale, but just a national scale or even a community scale. Imagine a united but diverse assembly of Jesus' followers, a united but diverse, you know, group assembly of Jesus' followers with a laser-focused message that's powerful and it's persuasive. It's like, wait a minute, whoa, whoa, whoa. Y'all aren't anything alike. I know, but she's, I know this is weird, but she's like my sister in Christ, but y'all are so different. I know, we're so different. Yeah, we don't vote the same way necessarily. And we have some really interesting conversations, but, oh, no, no, no. He's my brother.

And Jesus goes on to say, "If you get this right, here's what's gonna happen". And we know this is what can happen because this is what happened. It's why we're here. He says, "If you get this right, Heavenly Father, if they get this right, then the world will know You sent me". Didn't the world know You sent me? "And have loved them even as You have loved me"? And this is exactly what happened at the end of the first century and the second century and the third century. And then at the beginning of the fourth century, this is miraculous. The Roman Empire responsible for crucifying the leader of this movement capitulated and decided and endorsed the leader of their movement as a God and did away with pagan temple worship.

And the whole Roman Empire embraces Jesus as the Unique one-of-a-kind Son of God. Not because the church got together and raised an army, and not because they protested, and not because they did all the crazy things we think is gonna make a difference, but because they had one unifying message. God has done something in the world for the world through Christ, and He is our King. And we have no king, but Jesus and Caesar, we appreciate you so much, but you are not our king. And everywhere these clusters of Christians got together, the world got better and the communities were better because they were better husbands, more faithful husbands and better wives and harder workers and more committed to an ethic that went beyond anything in the Greek or the Roman world. They were amazing people because they followed Jesus and they were so different.

Some of them had been slaves, some of them were slaves, some of them were wealthy. But the thing that brought them together wasn't what was in culture, it was this galvanizing idea that Jesus prayed would galvanize the future church, that God has done something in the world. He showed up as one of us to show us how to live. And it's a completely different kind of kingdom with a completely different kind of ethic, with a completely different kind of value system. It's in others first, back of the line. I leverage what I have for you instead of leveraging it all for me. And year after year, after year, after year, after year, and eventually, the Empire embraces Jesus as a God.

So what's the greatest threat to the success of what? What's the greatest threat to a local church or to a network of churches or the influence of the church? Jesus is clear, it's division specifically, and this is where it gets hard. Division over secondary issues that distract us from the primary issue. And what is the primary issue? It's this. So that the world may believe that You have sent me. You see, this is so simple, is it that simple? Lemme tell you why you can believe it's so simple. For those of you who developed a faith of your own as an adult, maybe you were like me, you were raised in church, but then you know when you're 18 or 20 or somewhere as more of adult years, you kind of came to a faith of your own.

Isn't it true that when it finally settled in on you that Jesus is the Son of God? Did that not begin to shape and reshape the way you thought and the way you lived and what you considered sin and what you considered off-limits and what you considered on limits. And isn't it true that to the degree that you allow this to sink into every single facet of your life, did it not begin to change? And doesn't it continue to change your life? That's why this is primary and everything else is secondary. This is primary in the sense that if you'll remember in the first message in this series, when Jesus says to His guys, "Hey, who do people say that I am"? And they're like, "Well, they think You're reincarnated into somebody," and He says, "Well, who do you think I am"? And Peter says, "I'll tell you who I think You are. I think You're the Messiah. I think You're the King, I think You're the Son. You're the unique Son of God". And Jesus says to him, "You are right. And on this Petra, on this rock, on this immovable outcropping of stone, I'm gonna build my entire kingdom".

And that's exactly what happened. The only thing Christians through the ages have agreed on. The only thing they've agreed on is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. We have disagreed and argued about everything else, but that is what's primary. And when what's primary becomes secondary, and when what's secondary becomes primary, we lose the plot line, we lose our influence, and we get used and worse than being used, we lose our influence and we lose our voice. And if you're not a Christian, we don't want influence and we don't want a voice.

So we can change you. We want influence and we want a voice because we believe that God through Christ came to change the world. And for whatever reason, we are His ambassadors. We are His representatives. We are the voice, the actions, and the reactions of the kingdom of God on Earth and our daily lives, the way we deal with people, the people that we get along with and more in particular, the people that we don't. He's the King, the Son of the Living God who introduced the kingdom of God to Earth. And here's the thing, the church in the United States has allowed secondary issues and temporary leaders to divide us. And our culture is poorer, and our world is poorer.

Secondary issues, we're gonna talk about 'em in a little bit that we need to talk about. Secondary issues that we should debate and discuss, but secondary issues that should not divide us. Because when we are divided, regardless of our position on the issues, we've lost the plotline. We're essentially almost outta business regardless of what we believe. We've lost. This is, we've lost the mission-critical power of unity. One voice, one message. And when that happens, the good news, you know this, the good news gets drowned out by headline news. And we're all yikkity-yakkity at each other. The great event, this is why we emphasize the resurrection of Jesus, because in Acts, that was the whole message, the great event, the resurrection of Jesus gets overshadowed by current events.

And then Ekklesia gets divided up among constituencies and we get whined and dined. And then when the election's over, we get left behind until we can be used the next time around. That is not God's will for His people. It is not God's will for you. And we should bring that to an end. And it's not because we're trying to take anything over, it's because the King has arrived. He already took over, He took over our hearts and He's called us to follow Him. And following Him has made your life better. He's made my life better. Ultimately, it made and will continue to make the world a better place. So that brings us to this. What do we do? I mean, you're just one Christian, we're just one church. We're just one network of churches.

So, I came up with three decisions I would like for you to consider and you're not gonna like 'em. okay, so that's okay. So you don't have to decide sitting here. And this is just thus sayeth Andy. This is, you know, we've left Jesus, you know, we left Jesus and John. This is just me trying to figure out, what do we do. What do I do, this is so heartbreaking to me, especially if I, as I watch people who do what I do, church leaders say the most ridiculous things and stirring up people to have an enemy. I'm like, have you not read the Gospels? That doesn't work. That doesn't work, even if you're on the right side of the issue because it's not the way of Jesus.

So real quick. Three decisions I wanna challenge you to consider. Number one. Pledge loyalty to King over country. Pledge loyalty to King over political party or political candidate to which you're already saying, "I know what you're saying. Oh, I've already done that," hang on. Maybe you have, maybe you haven't. A lot of Christians give lip service to that. And if the reason you should do this is, this is actually what you celebrate every single Christmas. Every single Christmas, this is what we celebrate today. Today. Like today, like 2,000 years ago, long before anybody had any thoughts about the United States of America, we're still an infant country. 2,000 years ago today in the town of David, a King, a Savior has been born to you. And He is the Messiah. He is God's final King, the Lord. This is what you believe.

So declaring our dependence on and swearing allegiance to the King isn't a new idea. It's what we celebrate every single Christmas. So the question is, is He really your King? Now, I know He's your King in emergencies, right? When there's an emergency, you haven't prayed in five years, and suddenly the, "Dear God, to Whom it may concern, I don't know, but whatever, I just need You to come. I mean, suddenly I'm surrendered, I'm so surrendered, God, I'm so surrendered," right? Well, if He's your King in emergencies, you've just declared His greatness, His power. So the invitation is to live that way, to be a good faith that's what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian, that's where the word came from, is to be a partisan of a King.

In Antioch, when they coined the term Christian, it was a derogatory term. Oh, you're not a follower of season, you're not a sectariani, you're a Christiani. You're following the invisible dead Christ, the nailed God. That's what it meant to be a Partisan of a King. The question is, are you living that way? Am I living that way? Am I submitted to Him in all things, including my response to the people with whom I disagree? And here's the thing, we've gotta move on. If you resist this as a Christian, if you give lip service to this, and I know how it works.

Oh, yeah, yeah, Andy, I'm a Christian. I prayed the prayer when I was 12 years, I'm a Christian, but I'm telling you, these Democrats, these Republicans, I can't, you know, it's like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait, hang on, hang on. If you just give lip service to that, you will eventually try to use your King to have your way. Judas attempted that. So real quick, to any State Federal Officials who are watching or listening or somebody said, "You gotta hear this one, okay"? Candidates for Office, I just wanna say something to you real quick. Look up here, if you attempt to use the Ekklesia of Jesus, you should be afraid. If you attempt to leverage the Ekklesia of Jesus for personal ambition, you should be afraid. And here's why. Because the Apostle Paul said twice, "Wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God". "Wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God". And that is wrong, and you should be afraid. You try to leverage the King, are you kidding?

You surrender to the King. Second decision, moving on. Number two. This is so hard. Don't allow a secondary issue to become your primary issue. And I'll tell you what makes this so hard is because secondary issues don't feel like secondary issues. They feel like primary issues. In fact, the first two versions of the sermon, I was gonna list them up here, just all the stuff we're all arguing about. And the problem was, as soon as you see your issue, it's like your mind will stop right there because it's so emotional. Because you'll think what I think, okay, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. There is no way a Christian could be for that and really be a Christian. There is no way a Christian could be against that and really be a Christian. There is no way a Christian could vote for somebody. There's no way. There's no way, and suddenly, the secondary issue has become your primary issue. Game over, conversation over, and now we're divided.

And it's not that these aren't important, it shouldn't be discussed and debated. The question is, what is primary? And when secondary becomes primary, you lose, your family loses, your faith loses. And when the church allows that to happen, culture loses. And the reason I say they're secondary, this is important. The reason they're secondary is because, you know, come on. The reason they're secondary is because you would say immediately, "Well, Andy, the reason I hold that position is because I'm a Christian. The reason I believe that way is because I'm a Christian. The reason I vote that way is because I'm a Christian". Which is saying what? Which is saying that your faith is in fact what is primary. I mean, shouldn't we allow our faith to govern and influence the way we think, the way we vote, the way we perceive all these things? Absolutely. Which means they are secondary issues.

Because if you have allowed your faith to shape your politics and allowed your faith to shape your views on all these debatable issues, it's because you have, you're acknowledging, you know what? My faith in Jesus, the way I read the Gospels, the way I follow Jesus is in fact what is informing my decisions and my convictions. Which means that's primary. So keep it primary. Your convictions regarding your convictions are informed by the life and the teaching of Jesus. Because we're called to evaluate everything through the filter of our King. And here's the thing, I gotta move on that common ground. In other words, today you're sitting by people who would vote different from you, people who see certain issues different from you. You have common ground. And that common ground is the preeminence of Christ, the preeminence of your King.

That common calling is actually our common ground. That common calling to surrender to Jesus is our common ground. That's why we don't have to be divided. We don't have to be divided over anything. I mean, here's the thing, we've talked about this. If I don't, if I can't understand how you could possibly vote for it, if I can't understand how you could possibly believe that, how you could possibly say that's right or possibly argue that that's wrong. If I don't understand how you could possibly believe that way or vote that way because you're a Christian, then clearly, there's something I don't understand that's on me. That doesn't have to divide us. And then, after talking to you and listening to you and reading that the 14th article you sent me and you've read the 12 I've sent you if at the end, we still don't agree, that's okay. You don't divide the church over that and you don't end fellowship over those things. We may never agree, ready? We may never agree, but we can love unconditionally.

In fact, we are commanded to love unconditionally. And when Jesus gave His new command sitting there with the apostles during His final Passover meal, I'm telling you, the guys in that room, they were so different. There were Zealots and a tax collector and fishermen and day laborers and all kinds of people from different families. They did not get along. But He said, "You know what? Look around at this table. You will love each other. A new command I give you, these are your marching orders".

These are the marching orders of the Ekklesia of Jesus. This is our potential, this is our opportunity, this will, so this is what causes people to stop and stare. "A new command I give you, love one another imperative as I have loved you. Don't gimme a but, but, but, butter. I'll give you some but, but, but, but, but giant James, 'cause I know everything about you, James. And, Matthew, I know everything about you. Peter, I know your heart. So don't start buttoning and ringing and pointing across the table, okay? I want you to love each other the way I've loved you, and I know everything about you. So you must love one another".

Our love for one another in spite of our disagreements and differences is evidence of the reality of our faith. If we were alike and agreed on everything that doesn't say anything, everybody does that, that's what Jesus said. Even the Pagans do that. Even the Pagans greet their friends. It's the person that greets their enemy. It's the person that gravitates toward the person they disagree with because they have something in common that God has done something in the world for both of them. Or to say it this way, the goal or the common ground is not that we see eye to eye because we won't. The common ground is that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder worshiping our King, submitted to our King, humbled by His grace and humbled by His mercy and humbled by His forgiveness, united in our commitment to live out the others first, back of the lying kingdom of God values that He demonstrated.

Third one, last one. Refuse to demonize anyone for any reason. Refuse to brand people or groups as evil. Now, I'm really gonna push you hard. When you do this, you say more about you then you say about them. When you demonize all those people, they're just, they're evil. They're just evil, they're just evil, they're just evil. When you say that, you are announcing that you are unaware of your potential for evil. You're saying, "I could never, I would never". Oh, yes, you could. And potentially, oh, yes, you would.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, you may be familiar with the name, may not be familiar with who He is. He was a Soviet dissident back when there was a Soviet Union. He was a Christian, he became an atheist, he became an activist against the government, spoke out against the government, was arrested, put in a Gulag, a Soviet labor camp for criticizing the government, where he saw the worst of the worst of the worst of humanity. And seeing the worst of the worst of the worst of humanity, he regained his faith in Jesus. And part of that revelation was realizing as terribly as I'm being treated and as terrible as these guards treat other people, what's in them... Is in me. And He wrote these powerful words. He wrote "The line separating good and evil".

Jesus taught this. "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either. But the line separating good from evil," He says, "It runs right through every human heart," including yours and including mine. The difference? The difference between you and the people or the group that you despise is rooted in things that neither of you had any control over. The reason, don't miss this, especially if you're not a Christian. This is like the best news of all. The best news. The reason God can love you in spite of you is He knows your whole story, the reason He can love the people you despise, you can't imagine that you... The reason He can love them, He knows their whole story as well.

This is why Jesus said, "You can love instead of despise your enemy, because your Father in Heaven loves your enemy as He loves you". That changes everything, that brings the temperature of the conversation down to something sane where we could actually get things done. So refuse. It's hard to demonize anyone for any reason. I told you you weren't gonna love these. Jesus said, "I pray," we're done. "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message". That's us, "That all of them," that's all of us. That's all of you. "That all of them may be one in purpose just as you or I, just as you are in me and I'm in you. May they also be in us so that," here's the payoff, here's the result. "So that the world, the whole world, and they're in Judea".

I mean, they don't even know how big the world is, but it worked. "So that the whole world may believe that You have sent me into the world for the world". And, yes, you're just one Christian and we're just one church or one group of churches. But maybe it starts with us. Maybe it starts with you. Maybe it starts with me. So let's submit to King over country, King over party, and if every Christian did that, our country would feel better. It would just be better.

And let's refuse to allow ourselves to be manipulated. Let's refuse to allow ourselves to be manipulated and thinking there's a group out there and they're our enemy. Let's, don't be divided over secondary issues. We all have so much to learn, and again, we're not all gonna agree, but we worship the same King. And Jesus said, "That's enough. And let's refuse to demonize anybody because everyone is someone for whom your Savior died". Let's be the Ekklesia of Jesus in our community and in our world. Let's be on mission for the world, for our world until He returns. And when He returns, the whole world is gonna say, "Oh. Oh. Oh, if only we'd known. If only we responded. If only we had submitted to the King".
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