Part 3: What would Jesus say to all of us?
A few months before my twentieth birthday, I sat across from a friend of mine as he told me why he could no longer be a pastor at our church.
This guy was my mentor. I interned with him for almost two years. I looked up to him. He was talented and smart. He could preach and he knew the Bible. Everyone liked him. He was a major influence in my life, faith, and ministry.
That night as we talked in his living room, my heart dropped. He confessed to an adulterous, sexual relationship with one of the interns in the ministry.
He was a married person in a position of authority caught having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate in his ministry. His selfish actions hurt people and cost him his ministry and eventually his marriage.
As I left his house that evening I had a conversation with another friend and asked, how do we make sure this never happens to us?
If this level of sin was in the man whom I looked up to and respected, it scared me to think it could be in me, too. It was an eye opening thought for me. I was living in a world that didn’t seem like it was as it was supposed to be.
This is the third and final week of the #MeToo series of talks. The #MeToo movement has gained a wide following in popular culture and seeks to bring attention to, and ultimately end sexual assault, abuse, and harassment.
Recently, there has been a string of high profile people in entertainment, business, politics, athletics, the faith community, academia, the hospitality industry—all sectors of society—whose sexual crimes and wrong doings have come to light. Women and men are using their voices and social media to say enough is enough—this is wrong! They are, knowingly or unknowingly agreeing with Jesus, this is wrong!
It’s not just high profile people involved, although their voices have helped embolden others to speak up, there are millions of others who have been affected by sexual assault, abuse, and harassment. This includes people in our community. People we interact with.
Why are we talking about this? We are Jesus-followers. I believe Jesus cares deeply about this, and has some important things to say to all of us. I believe Jesus can heal us.
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Two weeks ago, Pastor Joe asked the question, what would Jesus say to women about #MeToo?:
“Me too. I know what it is to suffer at the hands of the powerful. I understand.”
“That’s wrong. Unwanted sexual aggression in any form is wrong. I stand with you.”
“Let me help. Let me help you heal and forgive.”
Last week the question was, what would Jesus would say to men?:
“Time’s up. It’s time to repent, time to change, and time to start treating women right! The change starts in your minds and hearts.”
“Man up. Act courageously, act to protect not harm, act to serve not be served. Speak up when you see other men behaving badly.”
“Let me help you. Let me help you get healthy so that you can be the man I made you to be, and live the life I made you for.”
If you missed either of the last two weeks, you can watch or listen to both of these talks on the app, at lifecenter.net
or on the podcast. It would be worth your time.
This week we are asking the question, what would Jesus say to all of us?
We live in a world where sexual assault, abuse, and harassment is a reality. But as Christians we do not live as the world does.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” – J.B. Phillips
When Jesus saved me it was not so I could have my life plus Jesus. He gave me a new life. I now get to say my life is not plus Jesus, my life is Jesus. That means I’m learning to say no to what I want or what the world wants for me and to say yes to what God wants. Not my will, but His. He promises his will is good, pleasing, and perfect. His way is not always easy, and I don’t always get it right, but I trust his will is always best.
I believe if the world lived and acted the way Jesus has created us to live and act, sexual assault, abuse, and harassment would be no more. Now, we know the world does not live and act this way. But we as Christians can. I believe it’s not only God’s best for your personal life and our Christian community, but if Christians live this way it will have a healing impact on the world!
So what is it Jesus would say to us as we navigate the sexual climate of today?
1. Be pure hearted.
Now if you’re my age and have some church experience as a kid, you are going to be real tempted to tune me out for this point. Our generation is the generation of purity rings, true love waits curriculum, and kissing dating goodbye. We were taught that purity is basically the same thing as virginity. And not to disparage everything about those movements, but It’s not. You also may be tempted to tune out if you think you’ve made too many sexual mistakes for purity to even be part of the conversation. Don’t tune out. True Biblical purity includes sexual morality, yes, but it is also so much more than that. It’s beautiful and it’s available in Christ—for all of us.
When I think of purity, I think of gold. Gold is melted down, the impurities are scraped off the top and you are left with pure gold that can be used to make precious things. Pure gold is clean from contamination and slag and unmixed with another metal. It’s not an alloy.
So what is a pure heart? When the NT is referring to a pure heart, it is a heart that is clean from immorality and undivided in it’s devotion to God. It means, God get’s to be God and nothing and no one else does. That includes sex. Sex doesn’t get to be God. That includes us. We don’t get to be God.
Author and pastor Levi Lusko says this,
“The problem is not having a sex drive, it’s letting sex drive.” – Levi Lusko.
Sex is wonderful. Sex is pure. God gave it to us. Husbands and wives get to have sex and they get to like it. I can remember hoping Jesus wouldn’t come back to earth until I had sex (okay, maybe I even prayed for it once or twice). No one had to teach me to want sex. God gave us a sex drive and he gave us sex to fulfill that desire. For every desire there is a righteous fulfillment of that desire. He also gave us the parameters for how sex is to be enjoyed—within the confines of a committed marriage.
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Jesus uses the creation story to let us know, God’s plan for sex and marriage is one man and one woman committed for a lifetime. No one is to separate them.
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
We are all called to honor marriage. Single or married, present and future we honor marriage. Not just your own marriage. And sex is for marriage.
In both of these teachings we see God acknowledging sex as good. The problem is not sex, the problem is the distortion and misuse of sex. It’s not having a sex drive, it’s letting sex drive. It’s finding fulfillment of our desire outside of God’s design. We are seeing the consequences of people letting sex drive in our culture today and it’s a mess. It’s time to turn back to God’s plan. It’s time to turn back to Jesus.
Jesus raised the bar on sexual ethics in his famous Sermon on the Mount.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Jesus is making sexual purity about the heart. Purity is not just about virginity or abstinence outside of marriage, it’s not about making sure we do all the right things and don’t do the wrong things. Jesus is not just calling us to purity in our actions, but purity in our hearts. He’s raising the bar. If I even look at a woman with lust, I’ve committed adultery in my heart. This is where our sexual disfunction lies as a culture—the heart. Jesus is calling us to purity of heart.
In this high calling Jesus is calling us to himself. He is the one who can give us a pure heart. He needs to be our focus. It is your responsibility to guard and develop the purity of your own heart and this must be done by pursuing Jesus.
This past week I was in a meeting with a bunch of the men on staff here at Life Center and we were talking about sexual purity. Pastor Tim encouraged us with a scripture I want to share with you as well.
2 Timothy 2:22
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
There are three things here that I think will help you as you pursue a pure heart.
- Flee the evil desires of youth
Step one is to leave the things that are pulling you away from Jesus and his plan for you life. Remove the contamination and impurity. Flee. That means run, that does not mean fight. It’s not time to stand up to these temptations, it’s time to flee them.
- If it’s porn, put your phone somewhere else. Throw it out the window if you need to.
- If it’s fantasy and lust found in a sexualized novel, put the book down.
- If it’s a place where you and your girlfriend or boyfriend find it’s easy to cross the boundaries of purity, stay away from that place or situation.
- If it’s a flirty relationship at work that gets your mind wandering, that needs to stop.
- If it’s instagram or snapchat…now I’m just meddling, huh?
Whatever it is that tempts you away from what God has for you, flee!
- Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace
It’s not enough for us just to run from sin, we need to run to Jesus. Are you investing in your relationship with God. Are you actively pursuing the things of God? Righteousness, faith, love and peace? If your Christian life is all about avoiding sin, your Christian life is honestly not very Christian. Christianity is about Jesus, he is our power over sin.
If we pursued righteousness, faith, love and peace, sexual abuse would be a thing of the past.
ASK: What are some ways we invest in our relationship with God?
- Don’t do it alone.
Purity is not a battle that is won alone in the dark. We flee the things that tempt us away from God’s best and we pursue Christ like things, but we don’t do it alone. We do this along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Who are the brothers and sisters fighting alongside you? Who are the people in your life who are encouraging you to be pure hearted? Be around those people and be that person for others!
I have people in my life who I have given permission to ask me difficult questions. I am also that person for others.
As we navigate the world we live in Jesus would say to us, be pure hearted. Grow in purity. Protect purity. Fight for purity. In your life and in the lives of others.
Second, Jesus would say,
2. Use power to serve.
So many stories of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment also have an element of misused power and authority. People using their position and power for their own sexual gain. This is not right! This is abuse of power.
So is power bad? Is authority evil? I don’t think so.
God gave humanity authority as soon as he created them.
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
In the garden, upon creation, before sin had entered the picture, God gave humanity a job. With that job came the authority to accomplish the job. They were to rule the earth. Not only did God give them the power to do this, he called it very good.
Power is apparently not the problem. There can be a good exercise of authority. Just as God ruled over humanity, he entrusted humanity to rule over the earth.
After Adam and Eve rebelled against God, sin entered the picture and power was one of the first things abused. Instead of operating in the assignment God had given them, Adam and Eve began to dish out blame and skirt responsibility for their rebellion against God. This becomes a theme in the Bible—people using their power and authority for their own gain, even at the expense of others. God continually condemns this.
Jesus raised the bar on use of power. We do not use strength to get ahead and use people for our own benefit, we use strength to serve.
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Using power to serve is not only the instruction Jesus gives us, it’s also his example.
Scripture tells us all things were created through Jesus and he rules over it all, yet Jesus lowered himself into his own creation and served us even to the point of death. He put our needs before his comfort and relief. This is also what he wants us to do. As Christians we serve. Any authority or power you possess is to be used for others. This is the nature of Christ and this is the nature of Christians.
How do we teach the dog-eat-dog world to live this way?
The temptation is to teach people to serve by making them serve. “Hey, intern! Mow my lawn, I want you to learn to serve!” This in and of itself is an abuse of power!
How did Jesus teach us to serve? He served us. This is how the world sees the power of serving others, by being served. You say something about the God you serve by the way you use your influence, power, and authority. What are you saying?
In the video we watched earlier Angelina said she believed in God, but she thought he was bad. This belief was because of the actions of a man in power. This is unacceptable! The world is listening, what are you saying? Our children are watching, what are you showing them?
What would Jesus say to us? Use power to serve. Use your strength to lift others up. Stand up for those who can’t. Use your voice for those without a voice. Fight the urge to make your life about you—there’s something greater.
This is the last thing I think Jesus would say to all of us,
3. Love your neighbor.
Jesus was asked, What is the greatest commandment in all of scripture?
37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ i 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ j 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Jesus’ response was to love. Love God and let this love move you to love your neighbor.
The greatest Christian ethic is love! Jesus says all other commandments hang on love. We are loved people! And we are loving people. If we truly loved others the way Jesus loves us, the world would not be the same.
Love is doing what’s best for another no matter what it costs you.
When we love this way, we can’t dehumanize and objectify women by only looking at them through a sexual lens. They are co-image-bearers of God. Love compels us to look differently. Love compels us to think differently. Love compels us to live differently.
The world has distorted what love looks like. Everywhere you look we see love defined as a feeling you get from another person, but this is not pure love. Pure love is not about getting, love is about giving.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
There is no greater love than sacrificial love. The world is hungry for love—for real love. As Christians we have this love.
Love people like Jesus. In your relationships, romantic or not, look for what you can give, not what you can get.
It is time for sexual assault, abuse, and harassment to stop. It’s time for women to feel safe. It’s time for men to value women as co-image-bearers of God. It’s time to say, enough is enough. We will no longer be content with the counterfeit love the world is offering.
As Christians we must rise up with the power of the Holy Spirit within us and show the world the true love they are so desperate for. This will not be done with our power and authority, but by our service and sacrifice. This will not be done with status, but by example. This will not be done from above, looking down on others, but from alongside walking together in step. For we, too, are broken. We, too, need help. We, too, are sinful, but we have found hope! There is a hope and his name is Jesus!
“Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.” – D.T. Niles
What would Jesus say to us? Love your neighbor. Do what is best for others no matter what it costs you. Let my love motivate you to love others.
The word is not as it should be. I learned many years ago, as I sat with my pastor friend as he told me about his sexual impropriety with an intern, that abuse, assault, and harassment can happen anywhere—even the church. This can be disheartening. But even though abuse, assault, and harassment can happen anywhere, I also believe so can hope, healing, and growth. I believe Jesus is still the answer and he is working through his people. We can be the voice of the hope of Jesus to the world. Let’s be bold in helping and advocating for those who have been hurt, and let’s be bold preventing future hurt by standing up for what’s right!
I’m going to pray, and when I’m done, we will have pastors and members of our prayer team up here and around the building wearing yellow lanyards—or you can text the number on the screen if you’d rather talk in private. Or you can simply turn to a trusted friend near you and say, “Would you pray with me.” Any follower of Jesus in room can pray with you. But come to Jesus.