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A Broken Option

 


Greetings!! As we get ready to celebrate Easter, I wanted to take some time and share what has been on my heart for awhile now. What a year it has been. Executive orders, lock-downs, riots, elections, and conspiracies more than enough for the average person to try to understand. I personally have to look back and thank God that I made it through.

Few people know this but early on during the first rounds of executive orders, I had a major panic attack right in the middle of one of my sermons. Everything caught up to me all at one time and right in mid sentence I couldn’t catch my breath. Words became hard to form. I muscled through my notes and finished. When I shared this the following week with my congregation I was surprised that no one really noticed. I guess I did a good job covering it. Looking back I know what happened, I was overwhelmed by the daily change in standards and information coming from the cities and from D.C. It seemed like every time I turned around there was a new rule coming out and we had to change. All the events I used to keep me focused and grounded were canceled so I was running on an empty tank. It was just a matter of time before I shut down. My shutdown gave me the space needed to refocus and re-calibrate. You could say it gave me fresh eyes to see.

If the pandemic wasn’t enough, we all got to turn on our televisions and watch a man of color die on live TV, then sit back and watch the city burn afterwards. This is where the argument usually starts. This is where the narrative turns to US versus THEM. This is what I want to talk with you about today.

You see it is so easy to get caught into the trap of groups. In fact we all have them. We have our “In Group” and we have our “Out Group”. Those who fit into one of our alike categories fall into the In Group, and well everyone else is relegated to the Out Group. We may not necessarily hate the people in our Out Group, we just deem them as less worthy of our time and energy. Again, the US versus THEM mentality that says you are either for me or you are against me. What a shallow mindset we have made our standard.

What if I told you that there was another option……..

In the Bible’s book of Joshua chapter 5, we find Joshua getting ready to lead the Hebrew people into the promised land. He had just taken over command after Moses had died and is now marching towards Jericho. As he is nearing Jericho, Joshua comes across a large man with a sword standing in the middle of the road. Joshua asks him the age old question, ARE YOU FOR US OR ARE YOU AGAINST US? Joshua went right to the US versus THEM mentality. Now because you are smart enough to figure out that this large dude is an Angel from God and Joshua was leading God’s people I bet you think you know his answer.

Would you be surprised if I told you his answer was NO?

The Commander of the Army of the Lord simply answered NO. He was letting Joshua know that he was not for him and against the inhabitants of Jericho. Yet he was also saying that he was not against Joshua and for Jericho. Instead he commanded Joshua to take off his shoes because he was on Holy Ground. In short he showed Joshua that there was a THIRD OPTION.

You see there is one side, the other side, and there is God’s side.

As Christ followers we should look at Easter as the event that opened up the way for us to operate on God’s side. In fact the writer of the Biblical book Hebrews says that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus gives us a “new and better way.” Hebrews chapter 10, verse 24 says that we should “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” This is what the third option is all about. When we drop the US versus THEM and look solely through the eyes of God we should be marked by love and good works.

In fact even Jesus told us that the two greatest commandments were to “Love the Lord with all your heart, all you mind, and all your soul. Then love your neighbor as yourself.” When He was confronted about defining neighbor he shocked the crowd. You see they wanted neighbor to be only the people in their personal In Group. That way they could hate those in their Out Group. Jesus gave them a third option when he told the story of the Good Samaritan to them; He made their Out Group person the hero of the story.

A few years back I preached a message titled “Love has NO Loopholes.” You can find it on our churches YouTube channel (cheap plug...lol). In it I talked about Jesus’ command and our desire to find a loophole. US versus THEM is the loophole. The Third Option closes that loophole.

Why then has this been so difficult for those who call themselves Christ Followers?

Very simple, we have a hard time separating LOVE our neighbor from AGREE with our neighbor. We have taken the Gospel message that God so loved the WORLD and changed it to God only loves those that are like me and agree with me. This is the worst perversion of the Gospel out there.

Easter is the event that makes all of this possible. When we accept the grace that God brought to us via the empty tomb, we can love like we have never loved before. When we look at people through the eyes of grace we can truly see them like we have never seen them before.

Now let me be very clear, I do believe that there is sin and that certain lifestyles and activities are sin, but that does not stop God’s command to love.

So as we bring this Holy Week to an end, let each of us pledge to go forward with the third option. With an understanding that we will NEVER look into the eyes of a person that Jesus didn’t die for. If He loved them enough to die for them then His grace can empower us to live for them.

So simply put…….

Different race than me, my neighbor.

Different church than me, my neighbor.

Republican, my neighbor.

Democrat, my neighbor.

Single, my neighbor.

Married, my neighbor.

Different faith, yes still my neighbor.

LGBTQ, you guessed it, still my neighbor.

God so loved George Floyd, then so do I.

God so loved Derek Chauvin, then so do I.

God so loved Lil Nas X, then so do I.

God so loved Donald Trump, then so do I.

God so loved Joe Biden, then so do I.

If any of those statements were hard for you, I understand, the “US versus THEM” ideology runs strong in our culture and especially in this area. If you need help embracing the third option or the “new and better way” as the Bible puts it, I would love to sit down and share with you how I did it.

Thank you for once again taking the time to read my thoughts. I would love to hear any feedback you might have, I am not a hard guy to find.

Finally for some of the “woke” crowd who have tried to cancel me because I refuse to hate or bash the side you are against. For your comments that maybe I am afraid to speak out because of my denomination or because I live in the land of rocks and cows. Let me assure you that is not the case. As Romans 1:16 states, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” in Paul’s letter to the Philippian church he said “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

You see I do not have to be ashamed or afraid at what others may say or think. I am an Ambassador of the Kingdom of God and today I am declaring to you that this Easter there is another option. I didn’t come here to take sides and blend in with one group or the other, I CAME TO STAND UP AND STAND OUT. Who’s with me?

 

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