Blogging Through James: Quick to Listen

While I never started counting, I am sure I would have lost track of the number of times I’ve asked my kids, “Are you listening?” Like most kids, they’ve heard what I’ve said, but they have not done what they have been asked to do. They have heard, but they have not (yet) listened.

James writes, “My dear brothers and sisters, take not of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”

There was a time where I thought this verse was encouraging believers to care enough about the people around us to where we listen and seek to understand before letting our voice be heard. That’s not a bad principle, but I’ve come to see this passage in a different way.

First, James is concerned about anger in the passage. It’s not just about listening or speaking- but about the anger that people in the church are exhibiting. In chapter four of James, it appears that the church is fighting and quarreling with each other. Believers desire what they do not have and consider murder (!) as a way to get what they deserve (check out 4:2). In chapter one, James warns how evil desires tempt us into sin. It seems that believers have been tempted to believe that physical violence was an appropriate response to the injustices they were facing.

What is James encouraging believers to listen to? James writes, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James wants the church to hear God’s Word and to put it into practice. This introduces a theme he will pick up in chapter three. For a believer, it is not enough to listen to the word, we must practice the word.

What does that look like? We should read The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and put these teachings into practice to avoid anger, shun adultery and lust, to love our enemies, to love our neighbors, protect the marriage covenant, turn the other cheek, and so on. These are just some of the teachings of Jesus of what a believer’s life is to look like. We are to be quick to listen (and put into practice) Jesus’ teachings.

Are you practicing the Word of God or merely just hearing it? Let us be believers who seek to practice the teachings of Jesus in our own lives.

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Blogging Through James: The Benefits of Testing

Our team at Avenue Church is preaching through the letter of James. There is always more content than can make it in the sermon. I will be regularly blogging through the book of James as a way to go deeper.

I was listening to a podcast recently about my 1st place Pittsburgh Pirates (I share that because I don’t get to say it often), and the podcast host said something that I thought was really important. He said that talent evaluators in baseball learn more by watching a prospect struggle than by seeing a prospect succeed. He said a trained eye can learn a lot about how someone handles adversity that prepares them for the next level versus coasting on natural talent. To put that in the terms of James’ letter,

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Each of us will have our faith tested in this life. There is no way to avoid this. How we respond to adversity and testing will reveal our faith. As we lean on God and persevere, the testing leads us to maturity in our walk with God. It is that maturity that enables us to help others who will also go through times of testing.

When a silversmith works with silver, they will put the element in a fire to burn off all the impurities. The silver that comes through the fire is more pure and more valuable. Likewise, steel is forged in fire to make it stronger. Clay is baked in the first to strengthen it. You get the point, right? When we go through the fire, test our faith, and persevere through Christ, we come out stronger on the other side.

What sort of test are you going through right now? James encourages us to encounter tests with joy (1:2) because we know the benefits of testing- a strengthened faith. Let us lean into Jesus, who calms the storms and meets us in the fire.

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Got Wisdom?

Our team at Avenue Church is preaching through the letter of James. There is always more content than can make it in the sermon. I will be regularly blogging through the book of James as a way to go deeper.

We live in a world that often lacks common sense, let alone wisdom. Critical thinking has been tossed out the window as we settle for answers that align with our own views in spite of cognitive dissonance. As a Christian, wisdom is something we are to pursue and seek. We are to live a life filled with wisdom, discipline, and to know right from wrong.

It is not a surprise when James encourages his readers to seek wisdom from God. James writes,

‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

James 1:5

If we read this verse in context, James is specifically encouraging his readers to seek God’s wisdom during trials and difficult times. Trials and persecution was the very real circumstances that the church found itself in during this time. By seeking wisdom, Christians avoid the kind of doubt that drives us away from God. Wisdom acknowledges the trials and considers joy because we know that God is still at work in our lives.

This is the kind of wisdom that is needed in the church today. The wisdom to understand that suffering and trials are part of the human experience. The wisdom to persevere through trials where our faith in God stronger and more mature than when the trial began. The wisdom to seek God in the midst of suffering for God is always with us.

Do you lack wisdom? Ask God today (and every day) for the wisdom to make sense of the world and all that goes in within it.

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Blogging Through James: Choose Joy

Our team at Avenue Church is preaching through the letter of James. There is always more content than can make it in the sermon. I will be regularly blogging through the book of James as a way to go deeper.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (Jas 1:2–4, NIV)

I remember the very first time I read anything from the Book of James. I was at church camp at Jumonville, our UMC Conference Camp in Western Pennsylvania. I was talking to one of the counselors about something I was wrestling with. Whatever my struggle was did not meet the criteria of a true crisis, but it sure felt like it at 14. He turned to James 1 and shared with me today’s passage.

Maybe it was the only passage the counselor knew or maybe it was the Holy Spirit, but I am grateful for being exposed to that passage at an early age. It taught me that trials and struggles ARE going to happen. They are a normal part of the Christian life. Of course, getting older, the reality of trials and struggles are even more obvious.

What does it mean to “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials…?” My answer? When we face trials, struggles, and difficult seasons we are to choose joy. How can we choose joy in the midst of trials? Because we know that God is at work in the midst of trials. While God may work behind the scenes, God is still working. James writes that it is through trials that are made mature in our faith- not lacking anything. We can choose joy because we know that God has brought us through (yet again) and is maturing our faith.

I met with a grieving daughter the other day. She had recently lost her father, somewhat unexpectently, to cancer. She was tearful and it was evident through her words how much she missed and loved her father. She said that in the midst of her grief, she was intentionally working on gratitude. She had a journal where she wrote down the things she was thankful for. The more she wrote in her journal, the more joy she had because it became clearer that God was at work in her life in spite of losing her father.

Are you going through a trial? Bad health? The loss of a loved one? Financial crisis? Choose joy. Allow your heart to be filled by the faithful presence of Jesus Christ who is always by our side.

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Blogging Through James: James 1:1

Our team at Avenue Church is preaching through the letter of James. There is always more content than can make it in the sermon. I will be regularly blogging through the book of James as a way to go deeper.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. (Jas 1:1)

Who was James?

A James in the New Testament was the leader of the Jerusalem church. Paul states that James was “the brother of the Lord.” We see in the Gospels (Matthew 12:46-50) that Jesus’ mother and brother wanted to speak with him while he taught. This brother would have been a half-brother (different fathers)- but a brother nonetheless. John 7:5 clearly states that “not even his brothers believed in him.” While Mary experienced a divine birth announcement with Jesus and witnessed Jesus turning water into wine, his brothers had a more challenging time wrapping their minds (and hearts) around the idea that Jesus was something special.

Something changes after the resurrection. James, and brother of Jesus, goes from “not believing in him” to becoming the church’s leader in Jerusalem. What happened? One has to think that James was present for one of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. Like Thomas and the disciples, that would be transformational. The letter of James is of interest because it is written by a skeptic turned believer through an encounter with Christ.

James begins his letter without paying attention to his position as Jerusalem’s church leader. Rather than appealing to his authority, he appeals to his devotion to Jesus. He calls himself a “servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word the NIV translates as “servant” is the Greek word “doulos, which literally means “slave.” In Biblical times, a slave was the property of their master and did the will of their master.

There are many challenges with the word “slave” or even “servant.” Actual slavery still exists in the world today. In America, we are aware of the sin in our past of the Transatlantic slave trade, where an estimated 12.5 million people were taken from Africa and taken to the New World. Is there a better way to understand James’ own term that has such a negative connotation today?

In An African Commentary on the Letter of James, J. Ayodeji Adewuya writes that in the Yoruba translation of the Bible, the word “iranse” is used here for slave. Iranse means “messenger” and can have the connotation of an apprentice. As a messenger, James is an emissary for Christ. He is sent on a mission to represent Jesus to the world. As an apprentice, James is on a continual, life-long pathway of becoming more Christlike. One never ceases to grow, serve, or live as a disciple.

This is our posture or lifestyle as a disciple of Jesus Christ. We are emissaries of Jesus- sent on a mission to represent Jesus to the world. We are to follow or obey the teachings and commands of God. As an apprentice, we are continually learning from our Master. We watch, listen, then do the things that Jesus did. This will be a lifelong pursuit for each person on the discipleship pathway.

  1. Have you moved from doubt to belief in Jesus? What convinced you?
  2. What word best describes your life as a disciple: Messenger, Emissary, or Apprentice?
  3. How are you called to represent and reflect Jesus to the people in your sphere of influence?

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Does God Answer Prayer?

Our family went to Hershey Park for a weekend getaway a few years ago. If you’ve gone before, you know that they have Hershey characters that also act as tools to determine a child’s height so they know what kind of ride they can go on. As we approached the Hershey characters, Chloe was too short to ride on the big rollercoasters. She was pretty disappointed but undaunted. She said, “I’m going to pray and ask God to help me grow tall enough to ride the big rollercoasters!”

The following day, we got up and ate our breakfast. We went to the ticket counter to get our wristbands, which would confirm our size and what coasters we could ride. Wouldn’t you know it? Chloe just made the official measurement for riding the big coasters! She was so excited to ride the big rides that God answered her prayer. There are few things better than having the faith of a child when it comes to praying to God!

Does God answer prayer? Yes! God does. Is God’s answer always what we want? No, it is not. There are four basic answers to our prayer requests. They are “Yes,” “No,” “Not Yet,” and “What are you doing to do about it?”

When we pray, there are times when God answers the prayer as we hoped. In those cases, our prayer conformed to God’s will and desire. There are also times when God says, “No.” This is a valid answer to prayer (especially if God is more than a cosmic vending machine). We may hear the answer “no” for various reasons, which we will begin discussing this Sunday. God also says, “not yet,” because God’s timing is perfect. We may want something now, but God knows that we need it more in the future. Finally, when we pray, God often asks, “What are you doing to do about it?” We are the body of Christ and have been gifted and tasked to participate in God’s Kingdom here on earth. There are many times when we pray for a miracle when God has called us to be the miracle that someone needs.

Does God answer prayer? Yes! Those answers to prayer come in more forms than a ‘yes.’ Let us trust God through our prayers because we know that God cares for us.

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Keeping Christ in Christmas? Start Here.

Do you remember “The War on Christmas?” I think that author and radio personality Bill O’Reilly was one of the first to discuss this. He (and plenty of others) would cite the use of “Happy Holidays” and Starbucks red coffee cups as examples of our culture’s attempt to erase Christ from Christmas. About this time, bumper stickers and magnets began to appear, saying things like “Keep Christ in Christmas.”

There is certainly the temptation to take Christ out of Christmas. We can get so wrapped up in the traditions and nostalgia of Christmas that we miss Christ. We can give into consumerism, Christmas parties, and the “spirit” of the holiday and never give a second thought to Jesus. There is also that pesky jolly man in a red suit that moves the attention away from Jesus. 

How should Christians keep Christ in Christmas? We must be sure to keep Christ in Christians!

It is more important for us to reflect and communicate the love of God to our neighbors than to say “Merry Christmas.” Caring for the poor and feeding the hungry keep Christ in Christmas more than any war against red cups. Forgiving our family members (because Jesus forgives us) may be the best Christmas gift we can ever give. Asking for forgiveness shows Christlike humility. Keeping Christ in Christmas starts when Christians start living like Christ.

We are 10 days away from Christmas (my four kids keep reminding me). May we reflect and embody the message of Christmas to those around us: God loved us so much that God became like us so that we might be with God. May God’s love and grace overflow from our relationship with Jesus and into the lives of the ones we love.

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Thinking to be Alive

Chloe and I spend a lot of time in the car going to and from practice and tournaments. She uses the time to commandeer my Spotify account and play DJ while we drive. At this point in 2022, I know her taste and what she is going to choose. One of her favorite songs is Car Radio by Twenty-One Pilots.

In the song, the singer’s car radio has been stolen from his vehicle. This has left him unable to listen to music which means that he is forced to listen to the thoughts and feelings in his head rather than drowning them out with music. The song goes:

I hate this car that I’m driving
There’s no hiding for me
I’m forced to deal with what I feel
There is no distraction to mask what is real
I could pull the steering wheel

I have these thoughts, so often I ought
To replace that slot with what I once bought
‘Cause somebody stole my car radio
And now I just sit in silence

Twenty-One Pilots (Car Radio)

Silence. Boredom. Stuck with our own thoughts. If we were in this situation in 2022, we would be on our phones scrolling through Social Media. Why? Because we don’t like to be left with our thoughts.

Earlier this year, I read Jay Y. Kim’s excellent book, Analog Christian: Cultivating Contentment, Resilience, and Wisdom in the Digital Age. The book is a warning about our addiction to technology that seeks to keep us scrolling and swiping. The pleasures that our technology brings is temporary and fleeting compared to the contentment, resilience, and wisdom that comes through a life that lives in the Spirit. Kim writes,

“But in the age of the smartphone, at even the slightest hint of discomfort, awkwardness, or boredom, we shift our focus downward and inward, away from the world and toward the screen. A few years ago, Apple revealed that the average iPhone user unlocks their phone eighty times a day. Why? Because much of life in the real world is uncomfortable, awkward, or boring, so we opt for digital escape. We increasingly prefer and default to worlds of our own making.”

Jay Y. Kim (Analog Christian, p.17)

In our smartphone-centric culture, we are quick to escape to worlds “of our own making” when we are bored or uncomfortable. We prefer digital over analog, that is we’d rather escape to a digital world than be confronted by our own emotions, thoughts, or even face-to-face relationships with other people.

Here is where Twenty One Pilots surprised me as I listened with Chloe. The song goes on to say that there are two things we can do: We can have faith or we can sleep. I think sleep in the song is what we do when things get overwhelming. We go to sleep, pull the blanket over our heads, and hope that things will be better when we wake up. Though experience tells me that this is not true.

The other option, according to the song is faith. Here are the lyrics:

Faith is to be awake
And to be awake is for us to think
And for us to think is to be alive
And I will try with every rhyme
To come across like I am dying
To let you know you need to try to think

Twenty-One Pilots (Car Radio)

We cannot live in faith if we are asleep. Faith means waking up to the world around us. Faith means choosing the analog (our thoughts, emotions, friendships, and listening for God’s voice) rather than scrolling through our phone every time we get the slightest bit bored or are in an awkward moment. We need to live in faith, awake to what God is doing in the world around us. By the end of the song, the listener realizes that the singer has not replaced his car radio because he has made a choice- a step of faith- to live awake and not asleep.

As Christians, let us choose to live a life of faith that is fully awake to God, to others, and to ourselves no matter how awkward the silence may be.

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He Is Our Hope

This is the sermon I preached on 10/2/22 as part of our series, The Deeply Formed Life. I’m grateful for Rich Villodas’ book of the same name (of the series). You can listen to the sermon here.


On November 9, 1989, Gunter Schabowski, the top spokesperson for Communist East Germany, received a note during a press conference that declared that the restrictions for travel through the Berlin Wall were no longer in effect. This meant that East German could travel outside their nation to West Germany and other locales for the first time in decades. It was another crack in the Iron Curtain of communism in Europe.

As the news got out to people living on either side of the wall, they gathered to go through the gates, see family and friends, and start tearing down the wall with sledgehammers. Tom Brokaw, who was in Berlin that night, ended his live report by saying, “They are crushing the wall east to west and from the west to the east. They are being joined as one…and no wall will stand in their way.”

Throughout the Bible, the reader becomes aware of a wall between Jews and Gentiles. This wall is made clear in the OT through many laws and commands for Jewish people to be separate and distinct from Gentiles. A non-Jew could not worship in the Temple the same way a Jewish person could. By the time the New Testament comes around, we see Paul primarily ministering to Gentiles. In his letter to the believers in Ephesus, he writes,

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barriers, the dividing walls of hostility.”[1]

Paul acknowledges that a wall or a fence has separated Jews and Gentiles because of the distinctions made in the Torah, resulting in ethnic and racial differences. Paul says that Jesus came and destroyed the barriers between the two people groups. Through the Cross, Jesus reconciles us to God and one another, and the result of the Gospel is the creation of a new family, a kingdom people.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is not just about our final destination after death but our life here and now. There is good news now when we receive the Gospel. It transforms our life with God AND our life with those around us. We pray, “your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray and ask that our life on earth reflect God’s Kingdom and reign.

George Eldon Ladd writes,

“The Gospel must not only offer a personal salvation in the future life to those who believe; it must transform all the relationships of life here and now and thus cause the Kingdom of God to prevail in all the world.”

The Gospel of Jesus not only transforms our hearts and souls, but it also transforms families, churches, and communities as we are reconciled to one another through Jesus. The Big “C” Church is a new family comprised of brothers and sisters of different skin tones, experiences, socio-economic realities, and opinions who have made Jesus their peace because Jesus has destroyed the walls that divide.

Here is the challenge- when we as Christians put up walls or allow walls existing between ourselves and others, we are living antithetically to the Gospel. We are living in opposition to the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is why Christians must constantly look to remove walls of division in our lives and communities.

A life deeply formed in Jesus Christ will actively work towards racial reconciliation in our personal lives and communities.

We live in a time of deep division. The division in our country that may be the deepest is our racial division. While I was taught that America is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and beliefs, we have also been a country with deep separation based on the color of our skin. I’ve encountered reluctance, within the white church especially, to have open and honest times of listening and learning about the issue of race in our communities. When the conversations start, we are quick to put up walls and get defensive. The Gospel of Jesus has to be big enough to engage in the racial divide in our communities (for all the reasons we just studied in Ephesians). The Gospel of Jesus is more than “being saved”. It is about “making things right” here and now.

“Making things right” is a basic definition of reconciliation. Regarding race, individuals and churches are called to “Make things right” in our relationships with others. In the Ephesian passage, Paul uses the word “peace” four times. Peace has the connotation of wholeness and well-being. In the passage from Ephesians, Jesus doesn’t come to bring peace- Jesus is our peace. When we put our faith in Jesus, Jesus calls us to break down the dividing walls between ourselves and anyone we are at odds with. This includes people of other races. Because of Jesus, we are concerned about the well-being of our brothers and sisters who have different skin tones than us.

Being concerned about our neighbors is more than a mental exercise- it is a commitment to work for their peace and well-being. Just as prayer is not passive, concern for our brothers and sisters is not passive. Christians must actively work for justice where ever injustice exists because we have been called to a ministry of reconciliation. We must work to right what is wrong in our world. Dr. Cornell West writes, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

I need to be aware of my prejudices and biases in my relationships with other people, especially those who look different from me. I can think through my life and remember times when I acted insensitive or bigoted toward others. As a Christian, I have sought to repent of the actions that build a wall between myself and others.

I have also had a growing awareness over the last decade of the systems that are in place in our society that favor some people over and above others. We can think of policies like “red-lining” that segregated communities. 1.2 million African-Americans serving in WWII were denied the benefits of the GI Bill.[2] America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with racial minorities making up a disproportionate number of the incarcerated. 

Throughout the Bible, God has always been concerned for immigrants, the oppressed, orphans, and widows. In Isaiah 10, God speaks through the prophet:

“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people…”[3]

God was concerned about rulers and lawmakers creating unjust laws that would oppress the poor in Israel. If Jesus has destroyed the dividing wall to make a new family, I believe God is equally concerned about unjust laws that oppress the poor, the vulnerable, and those who look different than us. God isn’t just worried about unjust relationships; God is concerned about unjust systems.

A Life Deeply Formed in Jesus Will Actively Work Towards Racial Reconciliation

Malachi- kids at school asked him if he had Corona Virus b/c he is Chinese- Kids heard it from their parents, who heard the president at the time call it the China Flu. From the first use of that phrase, hate crimes against Asians in America dramatically increased in our country.

If Jesus has torn down dividing walls between Jews and Gentiles through the Cross- we are called to break down dividing barriers of race. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. If our lives have been transformed, that should be reflected in how we love one another.

Where do we start?

Rich Villodas, in his book The Deeply Formed Life, offers a few practices to help us move towards a reconciled world.

The Practice of Incarnational Listening

Christians must be deeply committed to listening to others even when it hurts and is complex. We have to listen without getting offended. Villodas writes that a sign of our spiritual maturity is our ability to listen without getting offended.[4] Our ability to listen “knee-to-knee” will give us the relationship and understanding to be able to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” as we work together for reconciliation in our world.

The Practice of Reconciling Prayer

Prayer is more than something we do to give thanks for our food. It is the very tool that God uses to move in our lives. We spend so little time in prayer. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells his disciples that they cannot cast a demon out because they do not know how to pray. How can we cast out the demonic power of racism without being committed to prayer? In our prayers, we must cry out to God for reconciliation. We pray, believing that relationships between races can be transformed. We pray, considering that we can be changed.

The Practice of Confession, Repentance, and Forgiveness

We are a broken people. We are sinners. We are going to break the peace of our relationship with others. We must confess and repent of our sins.

Today is World Communion Sunday. A Day where believers of every color, tribe, and tongue gather for Holy Communion. Part of our liturgy is a confession of sin. We need this Confession:

As I grow deeper with Jesus, I recognize that I need that Confession in my life. As I grow deeper with Jesus, I know there is deep work that the Holy Spirit desires to do in my life so that my faith would have depth and power. The Church in America lacks power because we are content to remain on the surface instead of going deep where the Spirit leads us.

As we prepare to come to the Communion table today, our skin color is not erased. The Kingdom of God is not a colorblind kingdom. Revelation 7:9 says:

“…there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”[5]

Around the throne of God will be people of every color and race. The dividing walls have been broken down through Jesus, who is our peace. Let us break down the dividing walls in our community as we are called into a new family through Jesus Christ.

[1] Ephesians 2:14, NIV.


[3] Isaiah 10:1-2, NIV.

[4] Villodas, The Deeply Formed Life, p.71

[5] Revelation 7:9, NIV.

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Moving From Contempt to Peace

Famed psychologist John Gottman has been writing and teaching about marriage and relationships for years. His research over four decades has led him to predict whether a couple will get divorced with a high degree of accuracy. Gottman has written about The Four Horsemen of Negative Interaction, which are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Gottman writes that contempt is the most dangerous for couples. In relationships, contempt looks like eye-rolling, hostile humor, mimicking, and name-calling. Contempt makes the other person feel demeaned and worthless. While Gottman writes about contempt in marriage, it is a virus spreading throughout our society.

Over the last month, we have been working our way through the story of Jonah. In the book, we find a prophet of God who resists God’s call and is angry when God shows the pagan Assyrians living in Nineveh grace. The Assyrians are enemies of Israel. Jonah believes God should punish Nineveh for their violence and sin. Jonah is angry and filled with contempt toward Nineveh. When God chooses to forgive Nineveh, Jonah says he would rather die than see the Ninevites saved by God’s grace.

Last summer Dan Nelson preached a short series on the book of Habakkuk called Modern Problems, Ancient Answers. The series’ premise was that the heart issues we have today are nothing new. We see this in Jonah as well. Contempt has become acceptable in politics, the news media, and social media. Contempt for others has also infiltrated the Church. We might talk about being loving and accepting of all people, yet we eye-roll and dismiss those with different beliefs and opinions than we do. We see our tribe as being superior to other tribes.

What might be the answer to contempt?

The answer is to work towards peace. Peace is more than the absence of conflict. It is to seek wholeness in our relationships and pursue flourishing in our own lives and those around us. As Christians, we are to desire (and work towards) God’s best for our neighbors and enemies. Through Jeremiah, God tells Israel to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.” Israel wasn’t to cause problems as exiles in Babylon. They were to seek the peace, the flourishing, of the city. Our posture as Christians is one of peace and not contempt.

Paul writes in Ephesians that we are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Contempt comes easy. It is a wide broad road that is easily traveled. Being a peacemaker requires more effort, but the outcome is a flourishing community. When we seek a life of peace, enemies lay down their weapons and embrace one another. Anger dissipates and is replaced with love. We begin to see “others” as being created in the image of God.

Brothers and Sisters, I pray that we would be people of peace who God uses to bring healing into our community here in Milford and beyond. I pray that we would be known by the way we love one another and that we would extend that love to those different from us. I hope that we will be a community that rejoices when we see others experience the grace of God because we are also recipients of that grace. Let us seek the peace of our community.

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