Love Your Enemies
Over the last week, we have seen a lot of violence and hatred on display just over the mountain in Charlottesville. It is hard to see such things happening in such a familiar place, especially when they lead to the loss of life as a result. As followers of Jesus, it is even more difficult as we consider how we are to respond to the growing sense of divisiveness, intolerance, and downright hatred that is becoming more prevalent all around us. What would Jesus do?
We do not have to look far for answers, for Jesus himself spoke directly about what to do under oppression and violence. Love your enemies, and pray for those who oppress you, he tells us in Matthew 5. Anyone can love those they like or agree with. It takes something special, however, to love and wish the best upon those you despise, those you disagree fundamentally with, and those who would seek to harm you in return. Yet this is what Jesus says we are called to do - to love our enemies. We do this because God is love, and we want to live as God's own children who repay hatred with love, violence with peace, anger with calm, oppression with prayer.
So what specifically are we to do now? Pray - pray for those who mourn, those who were injured, those whose beloved hometown has become a national focal point, those who seek to establish peace in these turbulent days, those public servants doing their duty as best as they are able, those who need to find the peace of Christ in their hearts. Witness to the love of God we have found in Jesus Christ - witness to its power to change lives and overcome differences, to its strength in the face of hate and violence, to its willingness to sacrifice for the sake of those it loves. Let go of the things that divide us one from another - the labels that divide us into warring tribes, the hatred being stoked between us, the fear of the other - and have a conversation with an enemy, with a neighbor. Whatever you do, err on the side of love, for that is the side that eventually wins in the end, because it is God's side.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
I Do: Building a Home (Matthew 7:24-27)
"On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand..." the old hymn tells us. This song is based, of course, on the image Jesus used at the conclusion of his Sermon on the Mount to talk about how we build up our lives. When we build on solid rock - his words, teaching, or love - our lives can withstand the storms of life. When we build on sand, the storms easily knock us over. As we talked about last week, there is a lot of similarity between our lives of faith and our marriages and holy relationships. That is true for this metaphor as well. What we build our homes and our marriages on matters. If the solid rock is Jesus' love and teachings, what is the sinking sand upon which we can build a marriage? For one thing, it can be the romantic love into which we fall without choice if it does not grow deeper. If our relationship is simply about how the other person makes us feel and the warm fuzzies we feel inside, even a small storm can ruin the home we build upon that foundation. So what solid ground does Jesus gives us to build our relationships upon? His teachings about love that culminate in his final, new commandment to love one another the way he has loved us. To base a relationship on this foundation means that our love does not depend on how we feel about them today as a result of an argument we have had or what circumstances life has thrown our way. It depends on who we are as a child of God and Jesus' love for us - a far more stable ground. Our love for the other is not nearly as fickle as what is happening today. A home built upon this foundation is a covenant rather than a contract. In a contract, if one person fails to live up to their responsibilities, the agreement is null and void, and the other person no longer has any responsibility to their end of the bargain. A covenant is not so easily broken, however. In a covenant, when one person fails to live out their end of it, the other continues to work on and build up the covenant. A covenant is more of a living, growing, healing relationship than a black-and-white, fragile agreement. To live in covenant means to seek the good of the other because we know of Jesus' love for us rather than to seek to treat the other as they have treated us. May God give us all the grace to live in covenant with one another and especially in our marriages!
Living in Community
Remember all of our teachers in prayer as they prepare for and begin a new school year!
Remember our brothers and sisters in Charlottesville that peace may return to their community.
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, August 15
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Thursday, August 17
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, August 20
9:30 am - Worship - "Happily Ever After"
11:00 am - Sunday School
Wednesday at the Port, Bible Study on John, and financial classes
will begin the week of September 10th.
See attachments for more details on John study.
Contact Pastor Jim for more information on these opportunities!
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!