Jesus is Lord of all of life, and that changes everything, including how we live as citizens in our community.
This is the fourth and final talk in this series, The Other Six Days: How your
relationship with Jesus changes Monday-Saturday. Being a Christian isn’t just
about going to church; it’s about living with Jesus all week long. We’ve said each
week that Jesus is Lord. That means that He is our leader in everything, not just
church or spiritual life, but He is the Lord of our work and our play, our family and
our friends, our money, our sexuality, our politics, our entire life. Jesus is Lord not
just of Sunday, but of Monday-Saturday too.
The Big Idea: Jesus is Lord of all of life and that changes everything,
including how we live as citizens in our community.
We’re going to look at three things that I hope will encourage you to love
your neighbors, serve our community and engage in productive political discourse.
Before the ushers come, take a look at our annual report…
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down,
shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the
measure you use, it will be measured to you.
You can’t outgive God!
The two questions: fill them out as we go.
1. Let’s engage rather than being isolated or absorbed.
When it comes to living in our community, there are two extremes that
Christians tend toward.
The first is isolation. Some Christians want to be all in for God (that’s
good!) and figure that means withdrawing from the world. We fill our lives with
church stuff. We surround ourselves with Christian friends, cram our schedules
with church activities, listen to Christian music, and only watch the Hallmark
channel. We end up living in a Christian bubble and have little or no engagement
with people who aren’t believers, or our community as a whole. Should we do
this? After all…
Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven.
Paul reminds us that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. And Peter writes that
we are foreigners and exiles here—we are citizens of a different homeland.
1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain
from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.
But, as we’ll see, we are still citizens where we are and are expected to
engage. We have dual citizenship, and we can’t afford to isolate and withdraw.
The other extreme is absorption. Some Christians want so badly to fit into
the world around them that they just get absorbed, squeezed into the mold and
disappear. It’s hard to find anything distinctively Christian about them—their
values, conversations, behaviors blend in nicely with the world and don’t have any
of the aroma of Jesus about them.
When Jesus prayed for us in John 17, He envisioned His followers being in
the world but not of the world. We are in the world, not isolated from it. But we
are not of the world, not absorbed by it so that we cease to be different.
What do both isolation and absorption share in common? Neither of them
will have much influence in the community: the first because they have no point of
contact to make a difference, the second because they have nothing to offer that is
The Christian response is not to isolate or absorb, but to engage. Look at the
words of Jesus.
Matthew 5:13–16 (p. 830) You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses
its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything,
except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its
stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light
shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in
Jesus tells His followers—including us—that we are the salt of the earth and
the light of the world. Salt was used to flavor and preserve, suggesting that Jesus’
followers bring a spicy difference to the world that preserves and saves. But for
the salt to have this effect, it has to be salty. If the salt lost its saltiness, it was good
for nothing. Salt made a difference by being different and being in contact. Salt in
shaker doesn’t change anything—you’ve got to get the salt out of the shaker and
onto the meat! There has to be contact—engagement. But if the salt isn’t
salty—different, distinctive—it does nothing. To make a difference, you have to
be different and you have to be there.
Same thing with the light of the world. You are the light of the world—you
bring light into a dark world. Light makes a difference for the same two reasons:
it’s there and it’s different. Light is different than darkness. It stands out—like a
city on a hill. You don’t light a lamp and then put it under a cover! You put it on a
stand where it will light up the room! So let your light shine! To make a
difference, you have to be different and you have to be there. Here’s a great story
that illustrates how impactful it is to be engaged, not isolated or absorbed.
ILL: In the fourth century, a monk named Telemachus wanted to live his
life in pursuit of God, so he lived alone in the desert praying, fasting, and
meditating. One day as he prayed, he realized if he was to serve God, he
must serve people so he decided to return to the city. In 391, Telemachus
headed for Rome.
He arrived on the day of the games. While Christians were no longer
being thrown to the lions, prisoners of war were cast into the arena to fight
and kill each other. Spectators roared as the gladiators battled to the death.
Following the noise, Telemachus made his way to the arena where 80,000
people had gathered to be entertained. The fights began and Telemachus
watched in horror. Men for whom Christ had died were about to kill each
other to amuse a supposedly Christian audience.
This tiny monk jumped into the arena and stood between the two
gladiators, and shouted, “Stop! In the name of Christ, stop!” The crowd
was furious, and as Telemachus continued to shout, “Stop! In the name of
Christ, stop!” they stoned the monk to death. The monk who came to
serve lay dead on the Coliseum floor. Silence fell on the crowd. The rest
of the contests were cancelled that day.
Not long after, the Roman Emperor Honorius declared Telemachus a
martyr and ended forever the gladiatorial contests.
Historian Edward Gibbon wrote the following about Telemachus: “His
death was more useful to mankind than his life.” Why? Because he got
engaged and made a difference in his community, his world.
So let’s not isolate or be absorbed; let’s engage in our community.
2. Let’s engage for the common good.
Let’s make life better for everyone. That should be our goal—not just to
make life better for us, but better for everyone. We want everyone to thrive and
flourish because that’s what God wants.
Jeremiah 29:7 (p. 676) Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to
which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers,
you too will prosper.
Here is the context. It’s 594 BC and the southern kingdom of Judah has just
been conquered by Babylon and taken into captivity. There in Babylon, false
prophets were telling the people to stay to themselves (isolate) and hang on,
because God was going to bring them home quickly. The prophet Jeremiah sent
them a letter—you can see that is the heading for the chapter, and the letter begins
in verse 4. Jeremiah tells them that they will be in Babylon for 70 years before
God brings them home. So he tells them to build houses and settle down, to plant
gardens and eat what they produce, to marry and have children and then find
spouses for their children and have grandchildren. (Speaking of grandchildren,
take a look at Lily Jane, Michael and Sara’s newest, and our 10th grandchild.) He
tells them not to isolate, but to engage—and engage for the common good. Look
at verse 7 again:
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you
into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
They are to seek or work for the peace and prosperity of the city where they
live. The word is shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, prosperity, thriving—the
common good. They are to engage for the common good—the good of the
Babylonians as well as their own good! Good for everyone!
They didn’t love Babylon. They loved Jerusalem. That was home. That’s
where they wanted to be. But God said, “Right now you’re in Babylon, so love
Babylon and engage it for the common good. Do good…for everyone.
We’re not in Babylon—we’re in Paradise! I love Spokane! And I want our
city to thrive—for everyone to thrive, to experience shalom—God’s blessing,
peace and prosperity. That’s what we’re to work for, to seek. Let’s engage for the
common good. Let’s do good for everyone. Let’s make life better for everyone.
That means when we see something that is not good, not thriving, we can
roll up our sleeves and get to work to make it better. One of the unique ways, and
the first way that we as Christians engage is by prayer.
1 Timothy 2:1–3 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession
and thanksgiving be made for all people—2 for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is
good, and pleases God our Savior.
We are to pray for all those in authority—our government—our president,
and congress, our governor, our mayor and city council. Why do we pray? For the
common good—that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. The words mean
“peaceful, quiet, tranquil,” and “without disturbance or turmoil.”
ILL: In the world right now, in 2020, there are 45 armed conflicts or wars
going on—places like Afghanistan, Syria (4 pics), Iraq and Nigeria.
Thousands are dying; millions are displaced. If you lived in any of these
areas, this would be your prayer. You’d be praying for those in authority
that we might live in peace, without disturbance or turmoil.
Let’s pray. We just prayed for the common good. Prayer is the first way we
engage, but it isn’t the only way. Let’s finish by looking at three other ways.
3. Let’s engage by:
A. Loving our neighbors.
One of the simplest ways to engage our community for good is to love our
neighbors. How important is this?
Matthew 22:35–40 (p. 849)
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and
the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
There were over 600 commandments in the Jewish Law—the Old
Testament. Some were more important than others. “Do not kill, do not commit
adultery”—these are more important than “don’t wear clothes with mixed fibers”
and “don’t eat bats.” That’s why centuries later we still know it’s wrong to kill or
commit adultery, but I’m wearing clothes that are a mix of cotton, nylon and
spandex. I don’t struggle with eating bats. Some commands were more important,
and the Jewish rabbis debated which was most important. Hence, the question
posed to Jesus. His answer?
Love God with all you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself. The
greatest command is to love God and love people. All the other laws are wrapped
up and fulfilled in these two. That’s how important it is to love your neighbor as
Who is your neighbor? Well, why don’t we start with your actual neighbors,
the people who live next door, or on your block. What would happen if you
adopted your block, or your floor in your apartment complex? What does that look
like? It’s you saying, “God, You put me here, in the midst of these people, my
neighbors. So I’m going to love my neighbors.” It starts by meeting your
neighbors, asking them, “Tell me your story.” Invite them over for coffee or
snacks or lunch or barbecue. Be a friend. And be ready to serve, to seek the peace
and prosperity (the shalom) of your neighbors. Ask, “What can I do for you?”
So it starts where we live, with our actual neighbors. But it doesn’t end
there. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that our neighbor is
whoever is in front of us right now—even if they are of a different race or religion.
Even if they are someone we’d normally avoid.
ILL: I was in Orlando this week at the Exponential Conference. I heard
Danielle Strickland talk about the greatest migration in human history.
Right now, there are 70 million displaced people in the world—forced
from their homes by war, violence or persecution. The average stay in a
refugee camp is 20 years. When I heard that, I started to cry. Twenty
years—I can’t even wrap my mind around that.
Danielle wondered what she could do, then she realized that they are
in her city—refugees. What was their greatest need? Friends. So she
started going to the local food bank to meet them and then invited them
over for a meal. One of them hugged her after a meal and asked, “How do
I belong to this forever?”
We have thousands of refugees in Spokane.
ILL: A few years ago, Janet Jenkins and Sarah Meekhof started putting on
a monthly “Friendship Tea” for refugee women. These women come from
cultures that emphasize community, but here they often find themselves
lonely and isolated. A team of volunteers picks them up, brings them to the
tea and takes them home. The women have been so touched that they’ve
begun to invite their friends—the group is growing.
How can we engage our community for the common good? It starts with loving
B. Serving our community.
We looked at Jeremiah 29; how about something from the NT?
Titus 3:1–2 (p. 1031) Remind the people to be subject to rulers and
authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one,
to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
Titus 3:8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things,
so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing
what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Paul tells Pastor Titus to remind his church that they have community
responsibilities: to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be ready to do whatever is
good. Then in verse 8 he tells them to devote themselves to doing what is good,
which is profitable for everyone. In other words, they are to be good citizens who
serve their community for the common good. Good for everyone! Seek the peace
and prosperity of the city where you live.
There are so many ways to do this!
Many of you serve as mentors in our public schools, investing time each week in at
Many others are providing food for at risk students through Bite 2 Go.
Dallas the Barber (we saw her video two weeks ago) uses her barbering skills to
provide free haircuts at Crosswalk—a service to homeless youth.
Dozens of you volunteer at Anna Ogden Hall or the Union Gospel Mission.
Larry Royce and his mission group are repurposing an old city bus into a mobile
tech center that will be used by Blessings Under the Bridge so that homeless
neighbors can access resources quickly from under the bridge.
Many of you are investing in our children by volunteering as coaches in youth
Leo and Carmen Felice (Leo is a chef) cook at meal the Ronald McDonald house
once or twice a month, on their own dime and time. They use their love of cooking
to serve and make our community better.
Stacy Henry, after her husband Lee passed away from cancer, created Henry’s
House: a 7 bedroom, private residence on the north side of Spokane that offers free
lodging to patients and their caregiver/family when they travel to Spokane for
cancer treatment. Lee had said, “A cancer patient should never be forced to choose
a lesser treatment option because they can’t afford lodging at a place that could
save their life.”
All of these, and many others of you are doing good, serving our community,
making it better. Seek the peace and prosperity of the city where you live. Serve
your community. Make it better for everyone.
C. Having productive political discourse.
I won’t take long here, but I needed to say something since this is an election
year, and the political discourse in our country is often polarized and toxic.
Ephesians 4:29 (p. 1008) Do not 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.
Here is how we talk as citizens of heaven. No unwholesome talk—the word
means “rotten, worthless, harmful, unwholesome.” It’s often used of rotten fruits
and veggies, rotting garbage. Don’t let that come out of your mouth. Instead, our
words are to be helpful or beneficial. They are build others up, not tear them
down. That’s how we’re to talk.
The other references on your outline are all about being good citizens.
Christians are called to be good citizens, and in our context that means being
engaged in the political process. Voting your conscience. Living your convictions.
Raising your voice. Caring about our community.
When Ephesians 4:29 is applied to politics, it means that we should engage
in productive political discourse. What does this mean?
We can disagree, but it means we do it wholesomely, in a way that is beneficial and
helpful, not toxic and destructive.
It means we learn to listen as well as talk.
It means that we try to understand the other person’s position, rather than just
ignore or refute it.
It means we try to find common ground and work for the common good. Do you
know that most of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, want the same things:
prosperity, safety, medical care, education, liberty. But we have different ideas
about how to get there. Toxic discourse only drives us farther apart. Seeking
common ground and working for the common good leads to productive discourse.
Eugene Cho has a new book that just came out: Thou Shalt Not be a Jerk: A
Christian’s Guide to Engaging Politics. If you find yourself getting swept up in
the toxicity and negativity of our politics, buy this book and read it!
What will I do?
Who will I tell?