Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Don’t Repay Evil with Evil

Over the past couple of months, we have been witness to great social upheavals. I understand the feelings and emotions of the people and work to understand what is hurting them and causing them to express it in protests and marches. In some cases, those demonstrations have turned violent. Riots have broken out and everyone is concerned for not only their lives but also the lives of families and friends.

I am not here to debate the merits of one side over another. However, what hurts me the most is the violence and sheer savagery that individuals have inflicted upon one another. I have seen buildings and businesses burned to the ground, police officers assaulted, injured, or in some cases, even killed and so many other horrifying things done out of frustration and hatred. It grieves me more than you can imagine to see people hurting those around them for whatever reason.

As I tried to make sense of all of this, I found comfort in the words of wisdom that we all as individuals and brothers and sisters should live by in the Bible. There have been so many other times in history where great social upheavals have occurred. In each, there were those who sought a peaceful means to express their desires for solution through more meaningful ways rather than resorting to destruction. We need not look too far back in history to see those moments where everything seemed to be turned on its head.

But, when you examine those moments closer, you see that there were a few people that stepped up and helped by turning anger into peaceful discussions. The fear was removed and replaced with understanding and, more importantly, love and respect for one another. When that change occurred, a spirit of peace and open discussion began to emerge and we worked together to the betterment of all. It is at that moment when we moved from chaos to harmony and from destruction to discussion.

Jesus told us that there were two very important laws that we should keep. The first is very simple. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind and soul. Equally as important, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. There were no additional qualifiers or “fine print” to consider. Jesus further tells us that if we follow these two laws the rest of the laws rest upon these.

Why is it so hard for us to grasp these simple, easy to understand laws? Even if you don’t believe in God or choose to believe in another, you have to admit that the other is something that we should strive each day to live by and love one another as brothers and sisters.

As Christians, we are called upon to make sacrifices if necessary to show the world that there is a better way to live and to be Christ-like in our thoughts and deeds. If you just look at these laws you can see that each is something that we should act upon each day.

We see so much suffering in the world. Greed and gluttony have turned objects into gods and we worship them. Larger homes, more expensive cars and more money have become our new gods and we fail to see what they have done to us. Instead of realizing the higher calling and understanding that we are capable of better, we choose to focus on those things that will, in time, fade into oblivion. 

Paul, in chapter twelve of his letter to those in Rome, writes, “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

We endure so many things in life together. Some of those moments are happy and we share them in joy while other moments cause us to weep together in mourning or grief. In either case, we do those together as brothers and sisters. We love our neighbors and show them that we care by lifting up our voices in joy or holding onto one another in sadness. 

If someone offends us, we must learn to forgive and all work together to reconcile. We should bless one another even if we are cursed or persecuted. It is through example that we show the world that we have truly overcome it.

Christians should always be the example to the world of love and understanding and work to “bind up the wounds” and mend relationships. It is not enough to simply say those words; we must live them each day. 
Paul tells us, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”

As brothers and sisters, we must do everything in our power to live in peace and harmony and not live our lives as enemies. It is so very easy for us to look at our differences and use them as the foundation of our hatred towards one another. But, it is something entirely different and difficult to get beyond those differences and seek peace, harmony and, most importantly, love. 

Some have asked me whether or not we are too far gone to turn away from evil and hatred. I must admit there are moments when I see us farther along that path and unwilling to turn back and away from the destination of destruction. Just when I think all is lost, I see the moments of where love and peace spring further and it gives me hope that one day we will put aside all differences and live truly as brothers and sisters. 

We are social by nature. We don’t live alone or desire to do so. It is part and parcel of being human. We enjoy meeting new people and developing lasting bonds that bind us together. Let us strive to do all that we can to live in peace and love with one another. When we do that, we have truly become Christ-like and can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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