Everyone knows conflict is part of life. There are some who tell stories of strength in relationships, marriages, churches and businesses because of conflict. But, the vast majority of stories seem to have another ending. Most people would love to hear a magic cure for conflict, but we all know that doesn't exist. Conflict even abounds throughout the pages of Scripture within people, between people, within groups and between groups. Sometimes it was handled in a godly fashion, but more often than not, it wasn't.
What if we could resolve conflict better? What if we could grow from it? What if we could learn from it? Maybe, just maybe, that starts now.
Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We're in a five-week series called "Conflict." If this is your first time here or maybe you missed last weekend because of Memorial Day, there's not a whole lot to bring you up to speed. We're just dealing with good old-fashioned conflict. I think we can all use some tools for our toolbox to be able to be equipped to handle it better. As Christians, we're not called just to run from it or to escalate it; we're called to be people that transform conflict in our lives and allowing God to let the Gospel really make a difference.
So, we want to do that. We don't want to be like the lady that went to the doctor's office and the doctor look at her and said, "Ma'am, I've got some bad news. You've got some life-threatening rabies."
And she was like, "Oh, okay," and she starts writing down a list. He says, "Are you making out your will?"
She says, "Oh, Lord no. I'm making a list here of people I want to bite."
We don't want to be like that, okay? But, we're dealing with this idea of conflict. What we're going to do, because I know the church and I know you, you're probably going, "Great, just tell me what to do. Tell me what to do. Tell me what to do."
Listen. Here's the reality: If I came out of the gates telling you what to do, many of you'd go, "Well, why would I do that? Why would I do that?"
Because, as Christians, we're not called to look like the world. We're called to do it the way Jesus wants us to do it. Sometimes, that's a lot different than the way we normally do it just in the way we normally do conflict. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to spend two weeks and we're going to really do some deep dives in two particular passages that deal with conflict in the church. What we're going to try to do is figure out what are the underlying truths that are really pushing the admonitions that we're seeing here in Scripture so those can be our "why."
Because, we're not going to do what we're supposed to do unless we understand why we're doing it. You know, people say, "What are we doing around here?"
Well, we do First Friday.
"Well, why do we do First Friday?"
We do First Friday because we want to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. The "why" makes sense of the "what." And we want to know what to do in conflict. We want to know what happens when we're fighting and have got problems at work and estranged relationships with parents and all this stuff. Do we draw boundaries? What do we do? All of these things. We're going to answer those things. But, before we do that, we're going to go get some really good, biblical, foundational truths. We're going to look at a passage that Paul wrote this weekend. Next weekend, we're going to look at a passage that Jesus spoke. Then we're going to spend two weeks after that dealing with real, practical issues on how to handle conflict in our lives. But, until we get to the "what," we need to understand the "why."
So, here's what we're going to do. We're going to take a real deep dive in a passage today that comes out of 1 Corinthians. It was funny. Last night, somebody said to me, "I've read the Bible over and over again. I never knew that passage was in there."
So, some of you may have that moment where you go, "I didn't know that was in here."
I promise you it's in there. It's like, what was it, Prego, the spaghetti sauce? "It's in there."
The reality is this, though: When we come to Scripture – and I get this a lot, more as a professor than a pastor, but I get it sometimes as a pastor as well – people will say, "Why are there so many problems with Scripture? How come everybody reads it differently? Isn't it just clear?"
The answer is yes. There are some passages of Scripture that are very clear. No question about it. But, some of them are really difficult to understand. Like when you read 1 Corinthians and it talks about women wearing head coverings, most of you women in here are like, "I ain't wearing no head covering," and there's people that would go, "Well, that's what the Bible says! So, why don't you put it on your head?"
And you're going, "I'm not sure that's what the Bible says," and people fight about this stuff. The question is: How do we understand that? Well, first of all, we've got to be honest. The Bible is an ancient book. If I were to come to you and say, "Hey, let's go read Hesiod or let's read Homer. How about we read the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides? How about we read Plato's Republic?"
You would say, "Well, can you give me some background and can you help me read this? Because, it's not going to make sense the way I originally read it."
Well, oftentimes, there are passages in Scripture that we ought to do work. Ultimately, I think that's why we come to church here. That's why we come and do what we do because we know that we're going to look at the Bible and we're going to study it and we're going to try to make sense out of it. But, when we go to the Bible, one of the things that we have to understand is there really is an interpretive maze going on.
One of the struggles we have as a church – and I'm going to be honest with you, and you see it everywhere – is we don't know, when we read Scripture, if it's prescriptive or if it's descriptive. What I mean by that is, what you're reading in Scripture, is that for everybody at every time to do it that way or is it describing something that's going on at a particular time in a particular place and then what we've got to do is we've got to figure out what are the underlying truths that are going on there. And then those become the things that we want to do at every time and in every place.
For instance, I get this all the time. I get people that come up and go, "Man, I just wish we were like Acts 2, man. I wish we were like the New Testament Church, man. Everybody was selling everything and they were sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya. Everybody's breaking bread. Man, it was awesome. It doesn't look like that anymore. How come?"
And I start asking the question, "Okay, so do you think everybody has to sell their property?"
And they're like, "Well, yeah. But, I want to sing Kumbaya, though."
I'm like, "Well, let me ask you a question. Is that prescriptive or is that descriptive? Is that a descriptive part of the church or is that prescriptive?"
In fact, I would go even further to say that if you want to read Luke correctly, you need to start off in Luke 1 where Jesus talks about what's going to happen on the day of Pentecost. Which, by the way, this is Pentecost Sunday, for those of you all who look at the Liturgical calendars. Jesus says to them, "When the Spirit of God comes upon you, you're going to be my witnesses and you're going to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world."
Well, if you're reading Acts through the vein of that the Church is supposed to go and you read the end of Acts and the Word of God is spreading even though Paul's in prison, you might read Acts 2 a little differently. They weren't supposed to sit around and sing Kumbaya. They were supposed to go into the world and be a witness. So, what did God do? He raised up Saul to scatter the Church so that they would go into the world and do what God had called them to do.
See, it becomes different when you read that way. Yes, the Bible can be understood and it can be clear, but there's an interpretive maze. So, when we come to an epistle – which we're going to read here in a minute; a passage of Scripture out of 1 Corinthians 6 – we've got to start asking some real questions. Who was the original audience? Do we know? Because, what they heard is probably different than what we would naturally hear. In fact, I say this all the time, but I'm not sure we get this. The Bible was not written to you and me. It was written for you and me, but it wasn't written to you and me.
When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he wasn't thinking about Chip Bennett in 2017. He was thinking about a church in Corinth that had some issues going on. Who was that original audience? What was the situation going on? Was there a particular situation that we can sort of understand? What were the cultural things that were going on? Are the things that are cultural that might be more descriptive of the church and they're not prescriptive?
Then, when we do all that work, what are the truths that we can extract from that passage of Scripture? What are the underlying truths so that we can apply those things to our life? And that's just working with any epistle, whether you're reading 1 John, something Paul wrote or something Peter wrote. Whatever you're reading, those are just things that we have to do to understand what's going on with the Bible. However, we talk about Paul and Paul's got two really unique features about the way he writes that if we don't understand those keys, we might not interpret Paul in the correct way.
First of all – and this is huge. Because, here in the West, this is the way we do it, right? You say, "I'm going to become something."
Right? I'm going to become a lawyer. I'm going to become a preacher. I'm going to become a swimmer. I'm going to become a golfer. Okay, what we have to do then is we have to do the things to become whatever it is that we want to be. And if we read Paul through that lens, we will misread Paul. Because, Paul writes with what we call an indicative and an imperative. You don't need to know those words. You need to know these words: "Are" and "do."
Paul doesn't say, "Go do all these things and then you look like a Christian."
Paul says, "It's because you are these things, you ought to do them."
In other words, doing flows from being, not the other way around. So, when you're reading Paul and he's telling the church, "Hey, you ought to do these things and do these things and do these things," if you read Paul going, "Okay, he's telling everybody how to become a better Christian. He's telling everybody how to become more holy. He's telling everybody how to become more righteous."
He's not doing that at all. He's saying, "The reason you need to be doing those things is because you already are them. You already are holy. So, the reason you ought to do holy is because you are holy. The reason you ought to do righteous is because you are righteous."
Like when he's writing to the Corinthian church, they're arguing about who baptized them. Maybe like how people here at the church go, "I got baptized by Chip. I wanted to get baptized by Dan or I wanted to get baptized by Tom. So, my baptism didn't work because I don't like Chip. I like Tom better."
They were doing that in the church. They were also arguing over who liked the way they spoke.
"Oh, I like the way this guy speaks better than the other guy."
They were building on the foundation wrong. In chapter 5, somebody was sleeping with a step mother. In chapter 6, people were going and visiting prostitutes. In chapter 7, they didn't even understand what marriage looked like. Chapters 8, 9 and 10, they argued about meat and food sacrificed to idols. In chapter 11, they were messing up the communion table. Some people were even getting drunk before communion. Chapters 12, 13 and 14, they were messing up all the spiritual gifts in the church and it was crazy.
And what does Paul say about them? He says, "To the saints at Corinth."
You go, "Well, they don't look like saints."
That's exactly what Paul would say. They're not doing who they are. Paul's not telling them to do the things that he's doing so that they can become better Christians. He's telling them they ought not to do the things that they're doing because that's not who they are anymore. To Paul, it's all about understanding what Jesus has done in our lives. The more we understand that, the more we start walking that thing out. It'd be like Michael Phelps, the great Olympic swimmer, getting into a car wreck and having amnesia and the doctors get him in a pool and they're like, "Let's try to swim."
And he's like, "I can't swim."
They're like, "Dude, you can swim."
He's like, "No, but I can't swim."
"No, man. You don't understand, buddy. You can swim."
"But, I'm scared of the water."
"No, no, no, man. Let me tell you."
And the more he starts to understand who he is, the more he understands he's an Olympic swimmer. The more we start to understand that we are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, that we're holy, that we're set apart, that we're His children, the more we start then doing the things that look like who we are. If we read Paul any differently than that, we're likely to butcher some of the text that we read.
Another thing that Paul does – and this is really cool and sometimes we miss it when we read Paul – is Paul takes his eschatology and reads it into his Ecclesiology. You don't need to know those words. That's the study of the Church. That's the study of the future. You just need to know Church and future. Paul things the Church ought to look like what it's going to be in the future. He thinks we're kingdom people now. We're kingdom people now. We sit in heavenly places now. Ephesians 2:6. So, for Paul, everything he's looking at in the now is looked at about what the Church is in heaven. He sees us as kingdom people in the now and we ought to look like kingdom people in the now.
So, now we can start to go into a particular text that has a lot of conflict going on and we can start to read it correctly and start to understand what's going on. That what Paul is saying here is occasional. It's written to a specific time and a specific place. Everything he's saying in this passage aren't necessarily things that you have to go do, but the underlying truths of why he's admonishing them to do the things that they're doing are something that you and I cannot run away from. And they're underlying truths of conflict.
Here's what he's got going on: He's got a church that is absolutely blowing its witness in Corinth. They look no different than the Corinthian people in the culture. They look just like the citizens of Corinth. And Paul's like, "That shouldn't be that way. Because, when you came to Jesus, you're a new creation. You're not the way you used to be. So, you shouldn't be living this way anymore."
One of the things he has going on in his church is he has conflict. He has brothers and sisters that are taking each other to court. They're mad at each other. What's happened is there's a few well-to-do people – Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 1 that "not many of you were well-to-do when you were called."
There's a few people in the church that are well-to-do. Most of them are not. The well-to-do people on property – and somewhere there's been a dispute with this property over some people in the church that are not as well off. Here's the rub: If you have money in Corinth, you could bribe the judge, bribe the lawyers and win. So, rich people won in all the courts in Corinth. Paul writes into that situation where there's conflict about taking each other to court. And we need to sort of peel back what's going on because there's a lot going on here and we might misread this passage if we're not aware of all the things going on.
But, what we're really after is "what are the underlying truths of conflict" so that when we start talking about what to do, we'll know why we do the things that we do.
Here's what Paul says. He says, "If any of you has a dispute..." – and that's a legal dispute over property – "...against another, how dare you take it to court before the unrighteous and not before the saints?"
Now, I've heard a lot of people who say Christians should never go to court. That's what the Bible says. It's really clear here. Why would you take somebody to court because, how dare you take them to court in front of the unrighteous? You should resolve everything in the church. I agree. I think we should try to resolve most things in the church. But, I don't agree that nobody can ever go to court. Because, Paul used to Roman courts to get to Caesar. I always find that interesting when I find somebody that goes, "The Bible's clear. You shouldn't go to court at all."
And I go, "Well, how come Paul used the courts to go to Rome?"
And they're like, "Oh. He did? Really?"
I'm like, "Yeah. He actually used the court in Corinth for his own benefit."
They're like, "Oh. Okay."
That would mean every lawyer that's in here today and every judge that's in here today would be doing the wrong things. And that's not true. God has ordained courts and leaders and stuff. But, his point to the Corinthians is he tells them not to go. Well, there's a reason why he's telling them not to go. We're going to continue to unpack this. Because, what we're trying to do is why would he admonish them to do this? What are the underlying truths?
He says, "If you have a dispute, how dare you take it before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or don't you know that you're going to judge the world?"
See, Paul's living out there in the future. He's like, "Don't you know in the future you're going to judge the world? So, why would you be taking all this stuff before the unrighteous? Guys, do you not know who you are? Have you forgotten what God did in you? Have you forgotten that you're kingdom people?"
He says, "And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge trivial cases?"
That's an insult to those who are ready to take people to court. Like, "You're going to call my property a trivial case?"
Paul's like, "Yeah. What value does that property have in eternity? Zero."
It's like you walk into heaven and go, "I've got some legal papers here, God. Deeds to my property. I'm going to bring them into heaven."
God's like, "You ain't bringing them into heaven. That don't mean anything."
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the affairs of this world because we don't realize who we are.
He says, "Don't you know that we're going to judge angels? How much more matters in this life?"
"You guys in the church can't figure this thing out? You're going to drag it before the people in Corinth? I mean, you guys, everything you're doing, is destroying your witness. Everything you're doing is looking like the world. All of your actions don't look anything like who you really are."
He says, "So if you have such matters, do you appoint as your judges those who have no standing in a church?"
He says, "Since we're going to judge angels and the world, you're going to bring people that have no standing in the church, which means they're not believers? You're going to let them make decisions for you when you're going to be making decisions and judgments on the world and angels? Come on, guys. Get it together."
He says, "So, I say this to your shame. Can it be that there's not one wise person among you who's able to arbitrate between fellow believers?"
"I mean seriously, guys. You can't find one person in the church that could sit down and listen to the problems and make some sort of decision and listen to it? You can't do those things? Come on, guys."
"Instead, you go to court against brother–and that before the unbelievers! As it is, to have legal disputes against one another is already a defeat for you."
This is why Paul is so driven by telling them to stay out of the Corinthian court, because he realizes that their witness is being destroyed in the local community. We see it all the time when Christians go to war against Christians. We fight against everybody and it gets out there in the world and it gets out there in the papers and it gets out there in social media. We look no different than anybody else. And what does the world say? They say, "Those guys just believe in some fantasy guy up in the sky. They're no different than us. They don't look any different than us."
As Christians, we go, "Hold on, now. I know I'm a hypocrite. I know I don't get everything right. But, here's the rub: You and I are supposed to look different from the people in the world."
We are. And Paul says that comes out of realizing what Jesus has done in your life. He says, "It's a defeat for you."
"Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?"
Just take it on the chin. Does that mean that every Christian at every time in their life is to be wronged and cheated on everything that they do? No. Not at all. People go, "The Bible's clear. We've got to be wronged and cheated on everything that we do."
That's ridiculous. The reason Paul is saying this here is because their witness is so damaged that he's like, "You're going to get back in the church, get somebody to arbitrate this thing, take it on the chin. Because, you guys are ruining the Gospel and the witness of Jesus in Corinth by the activities that you're doing because you don't know who you are. You're not acting like it. So, stop it."
He says, "Instead, you're doing wrong and cheating your brothers and sisters."
"You're robbing them of the Gospel and the power and the transformation and their witness in Corinth by doing the things that you're doing. Stop it, guys."
He says, "Don't you know that the unrighteous won't inherit God's kingdom?"
This is when this passage of Scripture – it's like nobody even reads what happened before it. We just grab this on here and go, "A-ha! I see the way you're living. Don't you know that the unrighteous aren't going to inherit the Kingdom of God?"
We've got all these stones to throw at everybody. That's not what he's saying. He's reminding them who they are. They're not unrighteous people. He's like, "Have you forgotten who you were? Have you forgotten that the unrighteous aren't the ones that inherit God's kingdom? They're not the ones that are going to judge the future. They're not the ones that are going to judge the world. They're not the ones that are going to judge angels. They're not the ones that do all this stuff. Don't you know that?"
He says, "Don't be deceived."
Half of the Corinthian church is sexually immoral. He says they've got all kinds of idolatry going on. Adultery. They've got all kinds of adultery going on in the church. He says, "Don't be deceived. These people, sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, males who have sex with males, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people or swindlers will inherit God's kingdom."
We go, "A-ha! There we go. I'm going to watch around and see if everybody's doing this stuff and they can't be a Christian.
That's not what Paul's saying. Paul's reminding them who they are. And listen what he says to them.
"Some of you used to be like this."
I'm trying to come on. I'm preaching all this 5'6 guy can do.
He's like, "You used to be like this. Some of you are acting like what you used to be. But, you're not like that anymore. Because, something happened. Something happened in your life."
"You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
He's like, "Don't you understand? Stop acting like what you're acting like. Stop it."
And unfortunately, you know how we normally read this passage of Scripture in the church is this. We expect Paul to say this: "But, you worked so hard, man. You guys got it all together. You cleaned up. You don't ever do any of these things that the riffraff do anymore. Because of that, God's so proud of you that you've earned entrance into God's kingdom."
Right? That's what we do with those passages. We use them to throw Bible bullets and everything else because we misread Paul. Paul calls them saints. You go, "Well, they don't look like saints."
That's exactly his problem. We need to be reminded who we are. So, when we have conflict in the church, there are some underlying truths that we need to know. There's underlying conflict truths that are going on in this passage of Scripture that do apply to you and me in everything that we do. In every challenge that we have, in every conflict that comes into our life, there are some truths that we need to make sure are operative in our life.
The first one is that we're kingdom people. You and me, that call upon Jesus, are no longer citizens of this world. And yet, we act like we are complete citizens of this world in the way we act, scream and yell on all the things that we do. We are not people of this world anymore. We're in the world; we're not of the world. We're kingdom people and we ought to look like kingdom people.
Jesus said it this way: "Hey, when you guys pray, pray 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'"
Everything we do ought to be moving heaven into the earthly realms of conflict, division and all the problems that we have. And instead, oftentimes, us who are God's children and children of the King, and kingdom people, look no different than people of the world and we fight over the same things that they do.
Paul said this to the Philippian church. He said: "Our citizenship is in heaven."
Most Christians don't believe that their citizenship is in heaven, because they fight for things other than citizenship that's in heaven. This is subversive, too. You have no idea. In the Roman world, when Rome controlled everything and to be a part of Rome was huge, this here was completely subversive. You ought to go back – because I think I would offend a lot of people if I just told you about it – and read the first 300 years of the Church. You might be shocked at what they did and did not do. It might blow your mind the way they saw themselves as citizens of heaven.
See, Peter said, "You're strangers and pilgrims on a journey through this world."
Paul said, "You're an ambassador for Christ."
Do you know what an ambassador is? It's someone who comes from another country into the country that they're in to share what their king has sent them to do in that particular country. When are we going to rise up and be kingdom people? When are we going to shake off the affairs of this world and start looking like kingdom people? Like people that can bring heaven to earth in the situations that we're doing?
Can you imagine if we started acting and walking as kingdom people and what that would look like? It would blow everybody away. And you know what? We're called to do that. That's the underlying truth Paul employs here. You're kingdom people. Act like it.
The second thing he employs is when the Church fails at conflict – this is the underlying truth here – it damages relationships within and it destroys our witness without. This is huge. Because, see, what we do when we get into conflict is we think about the way it works for me. We're not thinking in terms of, "Well, how does this effect the Church? How does this effect the witness of the Church?"
We're not even thinking that way at all. We're thinking, "How can I get out of this or how can I win?"
Conflict in the Church – the "why" is that when we fail at this, we damage relationships and we destroy our witness. You know, when Adam sinned, guess who sinned? All of us. We go, "Well, that's not fair."
But, when Jesus died on the cross and gave provision for salvation for everybody, we go, "I like that one. That one's a good one."
We like the ones that we like. We just don't like the ones that we don't like. When Achan still the temple treasure from Jericho, when Israel went into battle next, what happened? They lost. One man effected the many. One person effected the many. Your sins and my sins effect the body whether you think they do or not. There are no secret things. We're in this thing together. It's not "my" Father, it's our Father. That's why Paul says when we come to the Lord's table, it's all about becoming the people of God.
Listen: This is Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is remembering the giving of the Law at Sinai. When God gave the Law at Sinai, He took slaves and He made them kingdom of priests. He transformed a people and made them into His new people. On the day of Pentecost, He took fishermen, tax collectors and zealots and He made them into the Ecclesia of God; the called-out Church of the Living God. God wants a new people that look like His kingdom, that live by His Spirit, that do the things that He's asked us to do because we understand that we already are those things. We are King's kids. We're forgiven. We're holy. We're righteous and we should live up to the things that God has done in our lives.
That's why he says doing this stuff is a defeat for you. Stop it. Take it on the chin. Because, you're destroying your witness. That's why Paul tells them that admonition, because there's an underlying truth there. Let me ask you this question: What if we were driven by continually asking ourselves this whenever any conflict came up anywhere? In our marriages, at work, fathers and sons, whatever. How does it effect those within the church and how does this effect the witness without? We don't even ask these questions, because all we're concerned about, really, at the end of the day – and it's unfortunate – is self.
Kingdom people aren't concerned with self. Kingdom people are concerned with the calls of Christ. Kingdom people want to do what Jesus has asked them to do. And I'm going to tell you something right now: Following Jesus, if you don't believe in a resurrection and you don't believe in eternity, is nonsense. Because, you have to believe there's something else if you're going to turn the other cheek. You have to believe there's something else if you're going to love somebody the way Jesus asked us to love. It really comes down to do you believe.
See, what we like to do is we like to hedge our bets. We want to be citizens of this world and we fight about all this stuff and get mad and everybody gets so upset about all the affairs of this world. And then we hope that there's a resurrection and there's a Jesus. What if we walked as if that was really true? We wouldn't care about the things of this world. They would go strangely dim. And what would happen is eternity would be the driver of everything that we do.
That's my third point. The matters of eternity should drive the values of the Church. Everything should be looked at through the lens of eternity. Paul does that. Everything is driven by "what does this mean in heaven?"
What does this mean in eternity? Think about that every time you get in a fight with somebody, get mad at something or you throw something at the TV because you don't like something. What if you asked yourself the question, "Is this going to matter in eternity?"
Not at all, in any way, shape or form. That should drive the values of the Church. That's why Paul does this. This is beautiful, what he does, because Paul's a great arguer. He starts off with legal dispute. I guarantee you when it was read they're like, "Ha ha! Yeah, that's right I've got a legal dispute. These people are doing something with my property and I'm going to get 'em."
Well, the next time he talks about it, he calls it a trivial case.
"Well, that's unfair. It ain't trivial to me. It's a property I own. I'm going to put my foot on that property. Trivial case? Come on."
And then Paul says, "It's just a matter of this life. It doesn't matter in eternity. It's just a matter of this life."
He says, "Your disputes and trivial matters in life, they don't matter. You guys are getting all yanked up about stuff that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter in light of eternity."
Gordon Fee, the great New Testament scholar, says this about the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 6:
"Such matters are trivial. They add up to zero in light [of eternity] of the coming eschatological judgment."
In other words, when you stand before God, they're zero.
"People who do such are just simply after the wrong things. They altogether miss the meaning of their present existence as the people of God; people who live in the present by the values of the future. Can you imagine if we decided, "God, I want to be a kingdom person?"
I want to bring heaven to earth. Every time I've got a conflict, I want to do what You want me to do. I want to be like Jesus. Man, I want to lay it down. I want to see You work. Lord, I know in my weakness You're made strong. God, I'm going to be a kingdom person. God, I'm going to take notice that when conflict's going on, if I don't do it the way You want me to do it and I don't behave in a Christian way, what I can do is destroy relationships within the church and I can damage the witness of the church without.
And not only that, God. Help me to be a person that's got my eyes fixed on the things that matter. Lay up treasures in heaven where moth can't destroy them and rust can't destroy them. Laying up things that matter; being people that matter. Driven by eternity. Seeing people as an opportunity in conflict for transformation of relationships, transformation of churches, transformation of community. It requires us to look at each other maybe in a little bit of a different way.
I'll close with this. In the Second World War, in a fox hole, a soldier jumped down in in the middle of a raging war. He realized he was laying next to another soldier on the other side that was dying. He looked at him and he knew that he as no threat. The other solider looked at him with tears in his eyes, because he knew he was dying. The soldier took his hand and he put it on his shoulder. The solider that was dying, with his hands shaking, reached in and pulled out a picture of his wife and his kids. The other soldier reached in and pulled out a picture of his wife and his kids.
All of a sudden, it didn't make a difference that they were enemies. All that mattered is they were human beings. We're called to be people that see people as human beings with dignity and value. When we treat people like that, we're doing what God did for us. While we were enemies, Christ came to us. Conflict gives you and me an awesome opportunity to shine brightly as kingdom people of God. But, we'll never understand the "what" until we understand the "why."
Next week, come back and we're going to look at what Jesus says about this and then we're going to spend two good weeks getting really practical and real and raw about this. And I believe if you and I will engage, we not only will see transformation in this church, but we'll see transformation in Lakewood Ranch. And let me tell you something: I am committed to dragging every soul that we can into the Kingdom of God. I want to make it so difficult to go to hell in Lakewood Ranch because we are kingdom people that are bringing heaven to earth.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for this opportunity today to talk about these subjects that we're talking about. I pray that You would download deeply in us the truths of conflict; the why. I pray for those who watch via the internet and the mobile app and I pray for everyone here in the sanctuary. God, I pray that You would help us to take these next couple of weeks to allow us to be people that You speak to and to rise up and to be the people that we already are in Jesus.
I pray that as we leave today that You would watch over us and protect us and that You would lead and guide us. I pray that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. And Lord, continue to raise up a body here that looks like Jesus to make an impact in this world for Your glory and for Your honor. We thank You for it in Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen."
Give the Lord a big hand clap and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody.