We are in this series called “I Am For You,” and this is the last week we’re talking about God designed us for other people, that He made us to be for them, to live for them. He said that you are the light of the world, and what He means is that we are supposed to be so loving, so bright, that people would come to us so they could come to Jesus. That we’re supposed to be bright with the light of Jesus. He said we’re supposed to be so loving that we’re even supposed to love our enemies. Whoa, Jesus. Time out. Do you know what that person did to me? Do you know their character, God? And He’s like, “Yeah, I do. Love them.” This is what He asks us to do. It defies logic that we would love our enemies, because what we usually do to our enemies is we do what they did to us. We reciprocate back what they’ve done to us. But Jesus asks us to do the opposite. He asks us to love them.
Think about this. God put you in your neighborhood for the people around you. Literally, the people around you, God put you there for them. God put you in your work for the people around you so that you could give His love to them. God put you in your dysfunctional, crazy, messed up family so you could be for them. There’s a lot of like, “Ooh, I don’t know about that right now.” God put you there for them. The love of God, the life of God, the joy of God, and the peace of God are to come to the world through you. That’s what God designed for you and me to be His love, to be His light.
See, the world is craving the flavor of Jesus and we are the salt that can provide that flavor of Jesus in their lives. This is who Jesus has designed us to be. He’s designed us to be light, He’s designed us to be salt. But it’s hard, isn’t it? Has anyone honked at you recently? How about have you honked at anyone recently? Hopefully not in the parking lot, right? So, you know there’s a whole language behind honking, right? We all understand the language of honking. If you give a little meep-meep, that means, “Hi, I’m not angry, but I just want to let you know you may proceed.” If you give a meep-meep, that means, “Bro, you just cut me off, I’m not happy,” right? But if you give a meep, that means, “What are you thinking?” So we all know there’s a language behind honking, correct? We get that.
So two years ago, it was right around Christmas time, and my wife was going to visit a friend. She had taken our one year old son, Paxton. She had gotten some take out. She was taking it over to their house. It was going to be this awesome, fun night that they were going to have together, and she called me on the way there and she’s crying and she says, “My car broke down.” Her car broke down right on the hill on Alberta, so it’s icy. It’s sleeting, it’s dark. When she calls, she’s crying, but not only is she crying, our son is crying. He’s wailing in the background. So I drive there, and when I get there, it’s true. She’s got her flashers on. She’s stuck in the middle of Alberta, this busy road, right on this hill, and cars are having to go around her and she’s just weeping and my son is wailing and it’s sleeting and it’s dark. This is not where you want to be in Christmas time, right?
I’m hooking up the jumper cables, because I think it’s an alternator, so I just need to get the battery charged so I can move the car. So I’m hooking up the jumper cables, and while I’m coming around … so I just hooked up the jumper cables, I’m coming around the side of the car. Someone flies by us and gives me the meep. So in a flash of anger, I responded like you would think your pastor should. I reciprocated his rude honk with a finger gesture and a, “Screw you too, buddy.”
So, no, no, no, no, no. No. No. No, that’s not good. When I walked back to my wife, she wasn’t crying anymore. She goes, “Did you just do …”, and I go, “Mm-hmm (affirmative).” Immediately, I started feeling like, “Oh no. What did I do?” I even thought like, “What if that person was from Life Center and they’re like, “Was that Pastor Michael?”” Has anyone else ever done something they’re not proud of? Reciprocated when they’re not proud of it? Man, that happens to us. Our natural reaction, our natural tendency is to hit back. If someone does something to us, we want to do it right back to them. Get back at them. That’s just our gut reaction, and yet Jesus says we’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be different than this world. We’re supposed to be different than our gut reaction. We’re supposed to be loving, even to our enemies.
This is incredibly difficult. this is not something that we can do on our own. We need His help, and so in the passage we’re going to read today, Jesus explains how to love our enemies, how to be different, how to be loving in such a way that we would be the light of the world. I don’t know about you, but I need Jesus’ help in this one because I’m going to do a lot more reciprocating and this instead of what I should do.
So we’re going to open the Bible to Luke 6:27-36. It’s on page 885, so pass the Bibles down. Luke 6, starting in verse 27. In this passage, again, Jesus is challenging His disciples to a new way of living, a radical love that’s different from the world around us. A love that rises above things around us. A love that rises above persecution. A love that rises above hate. A love that rises above people mistreating us. A love that rises above the things of this world. This is what Jesus is calling us to in this passage. So Luke 6, starting at verse 27. Page 885.
Jesus says, “But to you who are listening, I say love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” Would you pray with me?
Lord, we ask that Your Word would transform us today. God, our gut reaction is to reciprocate, but would you help us to reflect Your love today? God, we want to be more like You. Would You help us to understand this? Would You help us to live this? God, we want to hear You, so speak to us today. We pray this in Jesus’ name, and everyone said …
I’m going to invite the ushers to come to receive your tithe and offering and your do stuff card or your love one another card. If you have that to drop in, you can do that. So ushers, come now. As you’re giving, I want to thank you for your generosity. Last week, I said that over 25 hundred people have been baptized here at Life Center over the last nine years. Over 35 hundred have made decisions to follow Jesus over the last nine year here at Life Center. Your giving makes that possible, and not just things possible here. You’re giving makes things possible in the community and around the world as we support organizations and missionaries that are furthering the Kingdom of God. So thank you for your generosity. It’s making a huge impact.
In this passage, what is Jesus doing? Why does He say this? What is He thinking when He does this? Jesus, again, is explaining a radical, new path for His disciples. That His disciples are supposed to look different, feel different, talk different, act differently than the world around them. The big idea today from this passage is that we’re to be for people like Jesus is for people. Be for people like Jesus is for people. He says, “Be merciful just as My Father is merciful. Love enemies just like I love My enemies.” It’s the same love that when Jesus was on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.” This is the love that Jesus calls us into. It’s a radical, world changing love.
How do we do it? Bob Goff in his book Love Does, has anyone read that book? It’s a fantastic book. Bob Goff says this. He says, “Jesus’ followers aren’t to save up love like we’re retiring on it. We should give it away like we’re made of it.” Isn’t that good? We’re supposed to give it away like we’re made of it. So how do we love our enemies, because honestly, I struggle to love the people that I like. Anyone else? I struggle to love my kids sometimes. I struggle to love my wife sometimes the way that I should. I struggle to love the people that I like, so how in the world am I supposed to love my enemies, Jesus? This doesn’t make sense. This is to difficult a teaching.
Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to start from the bottom of the passage and work our way up because Jesus starts with this crazy phrase. He says, “Love your enemies,” and then He explains it. So we’re going to start from the bottom and work our way back up to that final thing that Jesus says, which is love your enemies.
So who is an enemy? Let’s first define that. An enemy is anyone with whom you are in conflict. If you’re in conflict with anyone, that person is an enemy. You can have a friend who becomes an enemy for a moment, or a spouse who becomes an enemy for a moment when you’re in conflict with them. An enemy is anyone whom you would like to condemn. So maybe you’re not in conflict with them right now, but you see what they’re doing and you want to condemn them for it. You are judging them for it. That person is an enemy. An enemy is anyone who causes negative feelings inside of you. When you see them, you want to go the other way? That’s an enemy. When you see them and you get this knot inside your stomach, that person is an enemy and Jesus is saying we’re supposed to love those people.
How do we do this? We’re starting from the bottom and working our way back up the passage. Point number one is from verse 35, so would you turn with me to verse 35? Verse 36, excuse me. It says this. “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” So point one number is this. Be merciful. Be merciful. What is mercy? What does it mean to be merciful just like our Father in Heaven is merciful? What does that mean? So, in the Bible, there’s this story. It comes from John 8. What happens is the Pharisees, the religious leaders, bring a woman who’s been caught in adultery to Jesus. They bring her in front of this public crowd and say, “Jesus, this woman was caught in adultery and the Mosaic Law, the Law of Moses, says that she should be stoned. What do You say?” The Jewish leaders were trying to trap Jesus in this moment because the Mosaic Law, the Law of Moses, the religious law said that they should stone this woman who’s caught in adultery but the law of Rome, the Roman Law, said that the Jews couldn’t execute anyone. So they’re trying to trap Jesus because either way, whatever Jesus said, He was going to break a law and they could condemn Him.
Jesus looks at them and instead of giving in to one of their traps, He looks at them and says this. He says, “Whichever one of you is without sin may throw the first stone.” And the Bible says that slowly, from oldest to youngest, they walked away and they dropped their rocks. Then Jesus looked at her and said, “Woman, where are those who would condemn you?” And she said, “They’ve gone.” And He says, “Then neither do I condemn you.” See, Jesus had mercy on her, but He also helped these other people have mercy on her. Why did this people who had these rocks, why did these people who were ready to stone this woman, why did they walk away? Here’s why. Because they realized that they are in the same boat as her. That they are sinners, too. That they couldn’t condemn her because when they condemned her, they would be condemning themselves, that they are sinful as well.
And friends, so often we look at other people and we point to them and say, “They’re a sinner. They’re my enemy. They’ve done this and they’ve done that,” and we ignore all the things we’ve done. We forget that we are in need of grace just like them. See, mercy is dropping your rocks. Mercy is dropping the weapons you are holding. Mercy is dropping the condemnation that you would like to sling at that person. Mercy is walking away and saying, “You know what? I’m a sinner, too.” Like I said, human mercy recognizes that we are in the same boat as this person so setting their boat on fire doesn’t make much sense. We need to drop our rocks and say, “You know what? We’re in the same boat.”
Here’s what mercy isn’t. Mercy, being merciful, doesn’t mean that you endorse their behavior. It means you understand what they’re going through. It doesn’t mean that you look at them and say, “Oh, you know what? It’s fine. Just keep doing that. You can keep hitting me. It’s fine.” It’s not saying that. It’s not saying, “You know what? You can just keep doing these things as long as you want. I don’t care.” Mercy isn’t tolerance, either, because a lot of times, we talk about tolerance like, “Oh, just tolerate those people,” but you can tolerate something without caring for them, without loving them, without helping them. You can ignore someone, but that doesn’t actually … that’s not actually mercy. Mercy is dropping your rocks.
Sometimes my two year old daughter, Capri, gets upset at us. When she does, this is what she does. She goes, “Humph.” Has anyone ever seen this from a two year old? So, you know, I could … Sarah and I could address the surface issue that she’s disrespecting us and we could say, “Capri, that’s not how we act and if you keep acting that way, you’re going to go to your room.” We could do that, but what we’ve learned to do is we’ve learned to say is, “Capri, do you need a hug?” And then all of a sudden when we say that, she goes, so we pick her up and we hug her and she holds me and she gently cries. While she’s hugging me, I says, “Capri, what’s going on? What’s going on in your heart?” And she’ll say something like this. “Dad, little sad. Can’t find Princess Anna.”
What I realized is that the surface issue, her disrespect, her anger, her frustration was actually coming from something deeper. What so often happens in our lives is that when we see people who are being mean to us, who are hurting us, who are inflicting pain on us, yes, there’s this surface issue that’s causing us pain, that’s causing us hurt but there’s something deeper going on inside of them. If we would be able to drop our rocks, realize that they’re human, too. That they’re struggling. That they are going through something. If we could drop our rocks and say, “Hey, is there something else going on here?” Most people are going to say, “Yeah, there is,” and then you get to help them with it. Mercy is dropping your rocks and mercy melts most people and hasn’t God done this for us? Didn’t God have mercy and compassion on us in the person of Jesus?
Romans 12:1 says, “In view of God’s mercy, offer your lives as living sacrifices.” Literally, our Christian life is a response to God’s mercy. So what is God’s mercy? Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” See, we were God’s enemies. We were the people who had our arms crossed and were upset. We were defiant towards God. We were rebellious towards God, and even in that rebellion God didn’t choose to stone us. He didn’t choose to condemn us. In fact, He chose to be condemned in our place. See, God didn’t just drop His rocks. He took the condemnation for us. When Jesus came to the earth, He took on our own skin. Mercy is getting out of your skin and getting in the other person’s skin. Jesus literally took on human flesh to have compassion and mercy on us so that He could redeem us. So that He could fulfill us. So that He could bring us back into relationship with God the Father. If God has been merciful to us, don’t you think we should be merciful to other people? If God could look at His enemies, He’s asking to look at ours and drop the rocks as well. This is what Jesus calls us to, a love is that radical. A love that starts with mercy.
So who are you in conflict with? Who causes angst inside of you? Who are you ignoring? Who are you avoiding? Who is that person that’s in head right now that you’re saying, “Man, I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t know if I can do that because they’ve done so much to me, or they’ve done this to me.” If you would just be able to start by saying, “I’m going to drop my rocks. I’m not going to condemn them.” See, what if we stopped throwing our rocks at each other and started asking each other, “Is there something else going on?” I think God would use that to repair relationships, to heal communities. Jesus wants us to drop our rocks. We need to be merciful. That’s the first step.
The next step comes in verse 28. So we’re jumping up a whole chunk. I’m really trying to make this super applicable for you, things that you can grab on to. So the next thing comes from verse 28, and this is what it says. It says … this is really unfortunate the way it’s laid out in our Bible. “Pray,” page flip, “for those who mistreat you.” Pray for those who mistreat you. Now, I’m good at praying against those who mistreat me, but praying for those who mistreat me? That’s not nearly as easy. Praying for those who mistreat us? Why should we do that? Why should we pray for people who’ve hurt us? Why should we pray for people who’ve excluded us? Why should we pray for them?
Here’s what I know. The enemy that we have, the ultimate enemy that we have, loves to cause division doesn’t he? He would love to cause disunity in this church. He’d love to cause disunity in your family. He’d love to cause division and conflict in your friendship. The enemy of God would love to cause more and more division in your life, but when you start praying for your enemy it invites the God of peace. Not conflict. It invites the God of peace to come in and heal your relationships. God is asking us to invite Him in to our relationship with our enemy, or the non-relationship that’s there, because He wants to redeem it. He wants to transform it. He wants to change it. See, Jesus doesn’t say that you’re not going to have enemies, but that people can’t stay your enemies. That you can’t continue to be an enemy to them. You need to pray for them.
So on Tuesday we launched our mission groups, and we had a big launching here. It was so fun and one of the things that we did together as a mission group is we started telling our two minute stories. So we went through and we said, “Hey, how did you come to know Jesus? Tell us that in two minutes.” One of our friends, Tiffany, told her story and we’ve been friends for a long time but I’ve actually never heard her story. One of the things she said, she says that, “I literally wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the power of prayer. I literally wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the power of prayer.” Hold on. Got him.
Anyways. So do you want to hear her story of how prayer transformer her life? She was running as far as fast away from her family and from Jesus as she could. This was in high school. She started running away from God and her family and she was trying to do anything that would hurt her family, hurt her parents, because she’d felt hurt. She’d felt mistreated. So she kept getting farther and farther away, but her big sister, Michelle, wouldn’t give up on her. Her big sister, Michelle, started praying for her and prayed for her everyday and then started enlisting her friends who didn’t even know Tiffany to start praying for Tiffany. So her friends started praying for Tiffany and Michelle was praying for Tiffany. Michelle was sending letters to Tiffany, like, “Please, I love you. I want you to know that there’s something better for you than what you’re experiencing right now,” but Tiffany didn’t want to have any of it.
Michelle prayed and prayed and prayed and Tiffany stiff-armed her. But one night, in the middle of the night, God woke Tiffany up and Tiffany said, “Clearer than I’ve ever heard God, I heard Him say, “Tiffany, this isn’t what I have for you. I have something better for you. I have something more for you. I love you, and I’m for you and I want to change your situation.”” And so Tiffany called her dad in the middle of the night, he came and picked her up. He was in Spokane, she was in Seattle. He drove over in the middle of the night, picked her, and God changed her life from that moment on. The reason why, it wasn’t Michelle’s letters that did it. I believe it was Michelle’s prayers that did, that opened up Tiffany’s heart to hear from God. The power of prayer will change lives. The person who is far away, the person who mistreated Michelle and her family was all of a sudden brought back to her family and brought back to Jesus because of prayer. This is what prayer can do in our lives.
So who needs you to pray for them? Who’s far from Jesus? Who’s far from you? Who’s far from your family? Who is a friend that has wandered away? Who is a friend that now is an enemy? Who needs you to pray for them so that God can change their story? You know what? Maybe God allowed the conflict so that you would pray for them. Maybe this person needed prayer and what God was doing when He allowed the conflict was He was saying, “Look, I told My people to pray for their enemies. I told My people to pray for those with whom they’re in conflict, and I’m going to allow this so that this Christian, this Jesus follower of Mine, would pray for this person.” What if we are missing so many opportunities that God is throwing at us because we’re just so angry at our enemies, but God’s saying, “Would you just pray for them? Would you just pray for them?”
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful, but see, you aren’t righteous on your own. You’re clothed with Christ’s righteousness, and if you would believe that and pray like that, pray like you have the power of Christ’s righteousness on top of you, you would pray mountain-moving prayers for the people around you. You would pray for them and say, “God, would You intervene? Would You transform them? Would You change them? Would You heal this relationship that’s broken? God, would You do what only You can do?” Who’s story will change because you prayed for them? Who will be sitting here later? Who will be at a mission group launch in five years and say, “The power of prayer changed my life,” because you were praying for them?
We get to partner with God in bringing peace to people’s lives. Peace in our life and peace to our enemy’s life. This is what God wants us to do, is to pray for them.
Point number three. In verse 28 again, you can flip back over. It says, “Bless those who curse you.” Point number three is bless. Bless those who curse you. You know, when we get into arguments, we start arguing with somebody and somebody says something hurtful to us and then you go, “Oh yeah? Oh, really? You think that?” And then what do you do? You give them a zinger, right? You get right back at them, because they cursed you, you’re cursing them back, but Jesus says we’re supposed to different than that. We’re supposed to bless those who curse us. So why shouldn’t I strike them back harder and try to stop them? Why shouldn’t I just give the death blow to them, right? Why shouldn’t I just stop the argument right there by hitting them back? Jesus says this, that we shouldn’t do that. We should bless those who curse us.
See, you can fight back and win the argument, but you’re going to lose the person. You can fight back and curse back, but you’re going to lose the person. You could win that argument with a curse and you could win the fight with a curse, but you’re going to lose the person. So Jesus says, “Bless those who curse you.”
A neighbor came over to my house one time and knocked on the door as I was getting ready to go to church. I was holding both my kids when I answered the door, and she started talking to me and she was upset. She was upset, it’s a story you don’t need to know, but she was upset and she started accusing me of lying. Here I am, holding my two kids, she’s visibly angry, accusing me of lying. I’m like, “Kids, don’t look.” In my heart, I’m like, “Really, lady? Really?” I wanted to say some things back to her, but because we have a miracle working, mouth shutting God, I didn’t say anything mean. I was able to keep my cool in that moment. She left frustrated and I left frustrated.
Then everytime, for the next week, when I went out in my backyard and I saw her house, you know what happened in my stomach? [inaudible 00:26:59] I was frustrated at her. I was unhappy with her because if she accused … it doesn’t feel good to be accused, does it? She was accusing me, and I said, “I did not lie to you, and I don’t know what else to tell you.” It didn’t feel good. But fortunately, instead of cursing her back, instead of allowing myself to exist in a neighborhood where I constantly felt this churn in my stomach when I saw my neighbor’s house, instead of doing that, my wife had the good sense to bless her. My wife had the good … she said, “You know what? Why don’t we send her a card with a gift card in it and tell her, “Hey, we’re so sorry for the misunderstanding. We appreciate you and we want to be great neighbors.”” I said, “I don’t think we should do that. I don’t like the sound of that. I’d rather curse her. I’d rather be upset at her,” because sometimes it feels good to be angry at someone, doesn’t it? Ultimately, it starts poisoning us. That’s what it does when we allow that curse, that unforgiveness to live in our hearts.
So my wife had the good sense to bless her. We did that, and from then on, you know what? That neighbor was no longer angry at us. She never brought it back up, but she’s all smiles whenever we see her. She loves us. She’s so happy to us, and you know what? We’re also happy to see her, because when we blessed her it unlocked us from the prison of our frustration and hurt. Friends, I wonder if you are sitting in a prison of frustration and hurt and pain and if you would just choose to bless the other person, God would unlock you and free you from your own prison. God wants to help you and He wants to help other people. See, when we blessed her, it freed her from her frustration and she didn’t even know what we were doing. What situation could God turn around because you choose to bless instead of curse? Your situation, God can do that if you choose to bless instead of curse because words are powerful, aren’t they?
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” You can speak life to people or you can speak death to people. You can speak a blessing or you can speak a curse. This is the power that God has given us in our words. God spoke the earth into existence, and because we are the image of God, we also have power in our words to speak life and death to people, so how are you using your words? Are you blessing or are you cursing?
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This means don’t complain, don’t speak out of anger, don’t speak out of jealousy. Don’t speak any word that would hurt somebody. Only speak what would build people up. This is a tall order, isn’t it? Oh my goodness. Jesus is calling us to a higher standard. A love that rises above everything that we’re experiencing. A love that doesn’t reciprocate. A love that is reflecting what He is giving to us. The beauty of this is that our lives pivot upwards on the blessings of people. Your life pivots upward when someone chooses to bless you.
I’ve experienced this so often recently as people have come to me and encouraged me. My life is pivoting upwards. God is changing the trajectory of my life, the trajectory of my emotions, the trajectory of my day, and I wonder if God wants to do that through you. If He wants to bless people through you. If He wants to shift the trajectory of someone’s life, give them upward momentum instead of downward momentum. If your enemy right now is going down, what would happen if you just chose to bless them and change the trajectory of their life? I think God would do something for them, in them, and also in you. When you bless somebody, you’re changing the trajectory of their life. You’re pivoting their life in that moment. Don’t discount the influence God has given you in your words.
Do you ever get those emails that we send out? Okay. So a while ago, I was wondering like, “Man, does this make a difference? Do my words matter?” Two weeks ago we sent out this email saying, “God is for you. If you’re feeling down right now, we want you to know that God is for you. That’s He’s with you, He loves you, He believes in you, and He’s helping you. He’s working all things for your good.” I got one response from a lady who said this. She said, it was a really simple response. All she said was this. “I just fired today. This email came at the perfect time.” You know, when God gives you a nudge to say something to someone, listen because He has perfect timing. Often when you hear that nudge and when you would curse somebody, it comes at just the right time. Not because of our timing, not because of what we know, but because we serve a God who’s the Master of time, and He’s able to orchestrate things perfectly.
So if you would just listen to the Holy Spirit in you nudging you to bless people, He’s going to tell you to call at the right time. He’s going to tell you text at the right time. He’s going to tell you to stop by their house at the right time. He’s going to tell you to send a note at the right time. God is going to pivot their lives in an upward trajectory towards Him if you would listen to the Holy Spirit and bless people when He tells you to. Are your ears open? Are you listening and saying, “God, who do You need to bless right now?” If it’s an enemy, if you’re in conflict with someone, it is a clear sign Jesus is telling you you’re to bless them. You’re to change the trajectory of their lives by blessing them. So bless.
So we’ve got be merciful. We’ve got prayer. We’ve got bless instead of curse. Now number four, the final one, is this. Do good. Do good to those who hate you. Has anyone … does anyone have somebody who hates them? Feels really good, right? How about has anyone told you recently, “I hate you”? Ouch. It’s not fun. Why should we do good to a hater? You know, often our strategy is burn the bridge and walk away, right? If someone hates us, you just go pour the gasoline on the relationship, strike a match, toss it, run. See you later, and you watch it burn, baby. Why should we do good to them? Why should we walk across the bridge into their life and do good for them? Aren’t haters going to hate? Isn’t that what we say? Why should we do good and try to change them? Their hate is a prison and you can’t leave them trapped. Jesus is for that person, so you need to be for that person and the hate that they have for you is a prison and God is calling you to help release them from that prison by doing good for them.
When I graduated from college, I moved into a ministry house that was connected with our college group here. We lived just over by the Shadle Center, and we had this Bible study all winter long on Monday nights. We started packing our house out. We’d have thirty, thirty five, forty people in our living room. There’s a bunch of college kids, super sweaty, getting into the Word. It was so fun. But we would pack our street out as well. People would park everywhere, and our neighbor next door wasn’t happy because he had this big truck and he was parking in front of his house, where he deserved to park. Our guests would just park right in his spot. So several times he would come over and just yell at us and be upset at us and be frustrated with us. This guy did not like us. He was not happy about this.
We tried everything we could. We told our people, “Hey, please don’t park there,” and then someone new would come to the Bible study and park there. We’d put out cones and literally people would move the cones and park there. We were like, “You guys. Please help us out.” Our neighbor kept getting more frustrated and more frustrated. He did not like us, so much so that whenever we saw him, we’d hide from him. If we was going outside, we’d stay inside because we knew that he did not like us. This was happening all winter long.
When it came to summer time, all of a sudden, his two boys showed up outside. You know how in summer time that happens? The kids show up all of a sudden? So he had a fourth grader and a first grader, and they came outside one day while we’re playing soccer in our front yard and they asked if they could play with us. Every college kid’s dream is to play with a fourth grader and a first grader all summer long, right? We just said, “Hey, man. Come on. Let’s play together.” So we started playing soccer with them, and that afternoon turned into something that we did all summer long. We started playing with these kids all summer. We played games with them. We played soccer with them. We invited them over and barbecued with them. They loved us. They thought they were the coolest kids ever, this fourth grader and first grader, hanging out with these college guys. They thought they were awesome.
What happened after a couple weeks is that our neighbor, who was so frustrated at us for parking in front of his house, our Bible study was still happening. What happened was he was no longer frustrated about the parking because he was so impressed with how we were treating his kids. He was so impressed with how we loved his kids. We’d found a way to good to him, and the issue no longer mattered to him. See, I used to think that interpersonal problems were solved with solutions, but now I know that interpersonal problems are solved with love. It’s by doing good for somebody. It’s by reaching across the bridge and saying, “Could I help you? Could I do something for you?” When you love someone in a visible way, it stops them. It releases them from the hate that they are trapped in. What good can you do for the person you’re in conflict with? Who right now in your head are you saying, “Oh man, I do not want to do something for them?” But who could you release from their prison of hate if you would choose to do something good for them? If you’d reach across the bridge instead of burning it, who could you set free?
We’re called to be for people like Jesus is for people, and Jesus spanned a far wider bridge than you have. He came from Heaven to earth to be with us. You can walk across the bridge that exists between you and your enemy.
So Jesus said, “You’re the light of the world. You’re a city set on the hill. You’re supposed to be attractive. You’re supposed to bring people to you. You’re supposed to be warm and inviting. You’re supposed to help people see where they’re going.” This is who we are supposed to be. We’re supposed to be the light of the world. Are you shining your light so other people can see Jesus in you? Are you letting people see Him by letting your light shine? You know that little song, this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Okay, don’t sing it. You know it, right? Just wanted to make sure. We’re supposed to let our light shine.
I need help with that. We need help with that, correct? If we’re supposed to bring the love of God, the joy of God, the peace of God, the life of God into this world, if we’re supposed to bring the flavor of Jesus, to let our light shine, I need help. I need help from Jesus because I can’t do it on my own. On my own, I reciprocate what people do to me. I hit back when people hurt me. This is what we do. We need Jesus to help us be loving and merciful. We need Him to help us get outside of ourselves and be for other people.
My power went out yesterday, and my son goes, “Dad, I think we need to put new batteries in the house.” He started flipping the light switches. “Dad, it’s not working. We need new batteries,” so I had to explain it to me. “There’s electricity and yeah, we’ve got the lights and we’ve got the switches but if there’s no electricity then the light doesn’t work. The light bulb doesn’t work.” When Jesus says you’re the light of the world, I think that He’s saying you’re a lot like a light bulb. You’re made to shine for Him. You’re made to be bright for Him. You’re made to be warm and attractive and loving. You’re made to love people so well that you even love your enemies. That people who are in the darkness far away from you who’ve been banished from your presence, that those people would be so attracted by Jesus in you that they’d come to you. This is who Jesus has made you to be, but without the electricity, without the power you can’t shine.
You need power. Acts 1:8 says this. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses. You will be my bright light. You will be the light of the world in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth when you receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” See friends, we can’t do this ourselves. We cannot be the light of the world by ourselves. We can’t love people by ourselves. We need His power and He’s willing to give it to us.
I don’t know about you, but I’m often the light of the world with my switch flipped off, without any power coming to me. I’m this light bulb that should be shining brightly but I’m going about without depending on the Holy Spirit. I go through my day and depend on my own power to love. I depend on my power to be joyful. I depend on my power to be patient, and you know where that gets me? A whole lot of not good. A whole lot of nowhere. See, if we would just flip the switch and receive the power, then we can shine brightly.
What is flipping the switch? What does it look like to flip the switch in your life and receive power from the Holy Spirit? I believe it’s submission in every moment. In every moment, it’s saying, “Not my will but Your will. Not my love but Your love. Not my power to do this but Your power to do this. Not my joy in this moment but Your joy in this moment. Not what I think, Jesus, but what You think. Now what I want to do but what You want to do.” If we would just submit in every moment, I think Jesus would give us the power of His Holy Spirit to make us shine brightly so that we could be the light of the world to help people see that God is for them. And if God is for them, we’re going to be for them because that’s how He designed us to be. God wants to make you the light of the world with His power.
Do you have it? Are you depending on it? Do you even know you need it? In just a moment, in prayer, I’m going to give people the opportunity to say yes to Jesus for the first time. To say, “Whoa, if Jesus loves me like this, if He’s called me to be the light of the world, I want to be that. I want to answer this call to be different.” I’m going to give you that opportunity, but I’m also going to give you the opportunity to say, “Hey, I need more of the Holy Spirit. I need more power. I’m ready to flip the switch in my life. I’m ready to flip the switch on today and start depending on Him.” I’m going to give you the opportunity as well. So there’s going to be two responses. One is going to be for saying yes to Jesus for the first time and the other response, the second response, is going to be saying, “Look, I need more of His Holy Spirit in my life.” That’s going to be you saying, “God, fill me up.” When you raise your hand, you’re going to be saying, “Jesus, fill me up with Your Holy Spirit.” Let’s pray.
Jesus, we’re so grateful that You love us. We’re so grateful that You’re for us. God, we’re so grateful that You came to earth and became one of us, to redeem us. Lord, right now, I know there’s people in this room who’s hearts are beating faster. They want to say yes to You, Jesus, for the first time. They want to receive Your Holy Spirit. They want to become a Jesus follower and live this new way of life that You’re calling them into, God. I pray that You would give them courage to say yes.
So friends, if that’s you, if you want to say yes to Jesus for the first time, while everyone else’s heads are bowed and eyes are closed, I’m going to ask you to do the opposite. I’m going to ask you to look at me. Lift your head, look at me, open your eyes, raise your hand. That’s you saying yes to Jesus. So if that’s you, would you do that right now? Opposite of everyone else. Lift up your head, open your eyes, look at me, raise your hand. That’s you saying yes to Jesus for the first time. I see you right there. Thank you so much for that decision. Raise your hand high so I can see it. Yeah, I see you. Thank you so much. I see you there. Thank you. That’s the best decision of your life. Just slip it up and slip it back down. I see you right there. Thank you so much. Best decision of your life. I see you back there. Thank you so much. Best decision of your life to say yes to Jesus.
Lord, I thank You for these people who said yes to You today. Now, God, I pray that You’d fill them with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to be a family to them, that walks with them in every moment of their new life with you, Jesus.
Now friends, if you need … like me, if you need more of the Holy Spirit, I’m going to give you an opportunity to just acknowledge before God, “I need more of You, God. I want to be the light of the world, so I need You. Would You help me? Would You fill me? I’m flipping the switch right now, and saying I’m submitting to Your way, Your will in my life today.” If that’s you, would you just shoot your hand up and that’s you saying, “I want to submit to more of the Holy Spirit. I want more of His power in my life.” Hands all over the room. Jesus … keep your hands up. Jesus, would You fill us with Your Holy Spirit? To every person who’s saying right now, “I need more of You,” would You send Yourself in power to us, God? Would You empower us to love? Would You empower us to bring peace? Would you empower us to pray and to bless and to do good? Would You empower us to drop our rocks and to love people the way You do? We need You, Jesus. Help us to be the light of the world. For Your sake and for Your glory, we pray this in Jesus’ name. And everyone said …
Friends, four people made the decision to say yes to Jesus today. If you’re one of those four, we’d love for you to go to the Welcome Center, where you’re going to get a new believer birth certificate and a Bible. We’ve got a gift for you. If you need prayer, you can come right down here. Thanks so much for being here, friends. We’ll see you next week.