For the fifth and final week of our Precious in His Sight series, we had pastors from other churches in our family of churches come and visit for a live Q&A panel. They answered questions that Midtown Lexington members and other church members submitted throughout the series! Check out the sermon audio linked below to here the questions and responses from pastors Adam Gibson, Ant Frederick, Michael Bailey, and Brandon Clements.
This week was the last sermon in our Precious in His Sight series. We’ve been looking at the history of race in America and the church with the hope of finding a gospel answer to racism and hatred on our communities. This week, Michael Bailey took us to a practical relational level to help give us understanding on how to respond to racism and division amongst God’s people. He started by taking us to Ephesians 4:1-6…
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one god and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
We have been called by God Himself to God Himself. And furthermore, we’ve all been called to God by the same way, by the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the power of the Spirit of God. Paul has given the church in Ephesus four virtues that we are all to walk in as Christians in an attempt to live according to “a manner worthy of the calling” we have all received from Jesus. These virtues will help us to see the imago dei (the image of God He places in all of us) in everyone around us, and will help us as we try to kill division and racial discord in our communities. Here are the four virtues Paul offers:
Humility- Paul tells us that to practice humility is to not think of yourself more highly than you should. We apply gospel-driven humility by keeping a pattern of self-suspicion. Don’t assume that you’ve always got the right answer, or that you’re always taking the correct posture in relating to someone else. Know that you always have something to learn from the gospel and from the people around you.
- Gentleness- This is using the least amount of force necessary. We communicate and confront with as much gentleness and with as little force as possible. We must know that our words have immense power (James tells us our words are like fire). Gentleness doesn’t mean being passive or soft. Jesus knew when to be still and when to chase heretics out of the temple with a whip. We should know the difference as well.
- Patience- This is bearing with one another in love. Bailey gave us two terms to help us understand biblical patience: longsuffering and forbearance. We practice patience by a willingness to longsuffer (suffering over an extended period of time) and by practicing forbearance (a predetermined posture of grace). We apply these traits to the issues of race and division by offering a willingness to be offended, and deciding ahead of time to offer only grace towards people that offend or hurt you, knowing it might happen over a long period of time before it gets better.
- Eagerness for Unity- This is a desire to be unified more than anything else. Paul encourages us through the letter to the Ephesians by reminding us that the power of the Spirit of God, granted to us by the gospel of Jesus, is stronger to unify us than anything else that could try to divide us. We must be eager to remain unified in the Spirit despite racial divides and social climates around us.
These are the traits that are worthy of the manner of our calling. These are the traits that will shatter hostility and division in light of the gospel. They give us an ability to disagree and still love. They give us the power to be hurt, and still be unified. They give us the ability to suffer for a long time, and still desire community. There is a lot to learn from each other, and we will grow in looking like Jesus as we do.
Songs from this Week
Grace Alone- King’s Kaleidoscope
Come Thou Fount- King’s Kaleidoscope
What a Beautiful Name- Hillsong with Brooke Ligertwood
He Will Hold Me Fast- Norton Hall Band
Can you believe it? We’ve already made it to the midway point of our new sermon series, Precious in His Sight. This week Brandon Clements walked us through trying to better understand that racism is a “bigger than an individual” kind of problem.
To get to the heart of racism we should remember what we talked about in the first week, that we are all created as a part of the imago dei, the image of God. It’s the picture that in every human face, you can see some likeness to God. When we reject a person and the way that they were made, we reject the bit of God that He has placed in them. Racism is one of the obvious ways in which we do this.
These rejections of the imago dei can affect us on personal, systematic, institutional, or cultural levels when something bigger than the individual communicates this rejection of the imago dei in a person or people group.
Now, to get started for this week’s sermon, Brandon defined 3 key Scriptural ideas for us.
- Justice- fair, right treatment of people that recognizes and affirms the imago dei
- Injustice- unfair, incorrect treatment of people that denies the imago dei
- Oppression- injustice at the hands of someone in power
Brandon also gave us a litany of Bible passages to affirm that God’s heart is for justice, and that He hates injustice and oppression. We learned that to ignore injustice and oppression insults God, and that He has actually charged His people with caring for those that are typically oppressed by the societies in which they live in.
It seems that America is not unique, and that every culture throughout human history has been built off of a people group that are pushed out to the fringes; marginalized. However, it also seems that Scripture is offering us a new design for caring for the oppressed in light of what is happening in God’s Kingdom.
However, to know how to respond to the oppressed, we have to know who is being oppressed and how. To do this, Brandon gave us four distinct ways that oppression shows itself in society.
- Obvious and Systematic Oppression- State Sponsored Racism. These are things like Jim Crow, segregation, genocide, and slavery.
- Obvious and Personal Oppression- Individual Hatred. These are the evident biases you hold against other people groups or cultures and manifest in hate speech, in racially charged shootings like in Charleston, etc.
- Inconspicuous and Systematic Oppression- Institutional Inequality. These are the instances where we are pretty sure the system is working against a people group, but would have to do a lot of asking and research to get to the bottom of it. Think of things like the wealth gap, inner-city versus rural education systems, cultural standards etc.
- Inconspicuous and Personal Oppression- Individual Prejudice. These are the subtle comments or blanket generalizations that make you cringe at Thanksgiving. It’s the fascination with interracial couples, or the “you’re really well spoken for an insert ethnic group that isn’t yours.
This is our cultural analysis. We have seen these instances of racism as they have appeared in our society. And to be clear, these are still problems that still affect our society. With that in mind, Brandon tried to help us figure out what we can do as Christians to respond to these types of racism and oppression.
- We can Ask the Holy Spirit
- We can watch out for injustice.
- We can do good deeds according to our ability.
- We can correct ignorance.
There was a lot more to be said about racism and injustice and oppression in this week’s sermon. More than ever, we’d encourage you to list to the audio of the sermon with the link below. We’ve got a long way to go in terms of reconciliation, but we know that God and God’s people are the uniquely equipped to effectively tackle this as family!
Songs from this Week:
All I Have is Christ- Sovereign Grace Music
He Will Hold Me Fast- Norton Hall Band
Rock of Ages- Page CXVI
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us- King’s Kaleidoscope
January 29th marks our second week in our discussions as a church family about race and the story of God. Last week, Bailey walked us through some Bible passages that showed us that God’s end goal is to have, amongst other things, a multi-ethnic people group for His name that includes a great reversal of racism and division. In fact, the Bible tells us that at the end of all days, God will have a people group before Him praising Him from every tribe, nation, and tongue.
Remembering these two things, Brandon Clements’ sermon took one step further to help us understand the problem of racial division we have inherited in America to help us better see the path to racial reconciliation.
Looking at Ephesians 2:11-22, Brandon reminded us that racial division has been a problem in church culture since the very beginning. Paul calls the church in Ephesus to remember that there was a time when all of us were separated from Christ, regardless of our race or heritage. There was a time when Jews held themselves as the true people of God, and anyone else was categorized as a Gentile and seen as an enemy and an outsider.
We continued by looking at the nature of racial animosity between people groups. Brandon gave us two points to challenge us to think about these things:
- When we talk about race, we’re not just talking about race. We’re talking about culture. We’re talking about class, and poverty. It’s not just about skin color.
- We are sinfully wired to desire superiority over others. Because of how sin has corrupted mankind, we constantly trade value with one another to try to find something to make someone else feel invaluable, and to make ourselves feel more valuable.
This brings us back to what Paul is sharing with the Ephesian Christians in chapter 2. Paul is saying that, because of Christ and through Christ, God is accomplishing racial reconciliation and unity amongst diversity here and earth AND in heaven. The mission of the Gospel in the church is to aid in making earth like heaven. We can’t just do that in the ways that we pray and give, but we have to do that in ways that we are constantly reconciling and bringing in people that are not like us, racially and otherwise.
Through the church, God is doing an new thing to bring reconciliation. Brandon shared two ways with us specifically.
- Jesus puts our hostility to death. The Bible says that Jesus is tearing down the walls of hostility that used to divide us before the cross and resurrection.
- Jesus forms us into a new race. My race is now “child of God.” My race is now, “Christian.” No other cultural identifier matters
And finally, Brandon gave us two questions to pray over as a lifegroup and as a family to help us recognize and put to death any dividing wall of hostility left within ourselves.
- Ask God to show you your superiority tendencies. Expose the ways we see ourselves as more valuable than others.
- Ask God to show you ways you can show off this beauty of the breaking down of the dividing walls of hostility at the cross of Jesus.
May we never grow tired of growing in the knowledge of God and the love of one another.
Songs from this Week
God We Exalt You Here- Emmanuel LIVE
What A Beautiful Name- Hillsong Worship
King of My Heart- Sarah Macmillan
Jesus Paid It All
This Sunday, our family started a journey that we’ve been eagerly anticipating and praying for for quite some time. This week, and for the next five weeks, we’ll be spending time as a church family talking about race, the story of God, and the story of America in a series that we’ll be calling, “Precious in His Sight.”
The point of the story that we’ll be telling about race and America and God’s people over the course of the next five weeks isn’t designed to make you feel guilty. It’s not designed to make you feel angry. It’s not designed to sink you into hopeless remorse. However, what we want for this series is for us as a family to come out on the other side and be able to say, “there are some things in here that I did not know and helped me understand where people are coming from even more.” We all have room in grow in understanding people that aren’t like us, and we as a church family have room to grow in becoming people like God who value and protect and welcome all of His people.
For this premiere week of the series, Michael Bailey started off by giving us our first baby steps into the much larger conversation that exists around us about race and race relations and the church in America. The first point may seem overly simple and extremely obvious, but we started by defining Americans as living in what sociologists call a “racialized society.” Uniquely to the world and the country that we live in today, race plays a huge part of our experiences and how our lives are lived. Race correlates to differences in average incomes, education levels, birth and death rates, incarceration rates, and even more.
However, in the midst of this racialized society, God’s people should have something different to offer.
The Church should exemplify a multi-ethnic people group that live by the understanding that we are all part of the imago dei, those found in the image of God. Genesis 1 shows us that this moniker of being made in God’s image was given to all created men and women, not just a specific race. Revelation 5 tells us that at the end of all days, Jesus will return to be worshiped by people from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people group.
The Church should exist and thrive in an understanding that God is not colorblind. He delights in every race and in all of the distinct and different cultures and backgrounds that are represented on the face of the earth that He made. God so delights in all the varied cultures and races that he will not stop his work of redemption until every tribe and tongue and race and people group is represented in his family.
Loved like that, there is no one better equipped for this race conversation than us as God’s people. We have a source of love and acceptance and equality to hold us steady as we discuss issues that are happening.
Songs from this Week:
Rock of Ages- Dustin Kensrue
God We Exalt You Here- Emmanuel LIVE
My Worth is Not In What I Own- Keith and Kristyn Getty
In Christ Alone- Mars Hill Church
For our second Sunday in 2017, Brandon Clements shared with us the vision that our church family has been fostering to partner with local organizations through our Serve the City initiatives. For our family at Midtown Lexington specifically, we have been partnering with DSS Lexington over the past several months to serve both the staff of DSS and the families that are a part of the foster care system in Lexington County.
This week, Brandon led our family in a sermon about our vision to be an adopting church. Sharing the story of how Brandon and Kristi came to adopt their son Jeremiah over the past year, Brandon reminded us how the heart of the Gospel is really an adoption story in itself. We took a look at James 1:27 to solidify the idea.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
For Brandon and Kristi both, the affliction of a child was made clear to them in the life of their son Jeremiah. Jeremiah inherited enormous amounts of pain that will not be contained to Jeremiah alone. The Clements were passed on the affliction that their son carried with them that they never knew was there.
Can you see God’s heart for His children in the way He adopts us out of our affliction through the cross of Jesus? The reason adoption is so representative of the gospel is because of the nature of chosen suffering. Chosen suffering is necessary for adoption, and it is exactly the road that Jesus walked for us by taking on suffering He didn’t deserve on our behalf so that we could be family with Him. The gospel is not painless, but choosing to take on pain for someone else’s benefit through adoption shows us this in ways we can’t know otherwise.
This is the manifestation of the Gospel through an adoption story. It’s facing a child or widow in affliction and saying,
“We will take your affliction.”
“We will take the very real pain you have from not having a family.”
“We will weep over you so you won’t have to.”
This is one of the biggest reasons we’ve decided to partner with DSS here in Lexington. To have a consistent way to serve the fatherless in our area, to serve the people who serve the fatherless, and to have a constant reminder that visiting orphans in their affliction is the story of the gospel. That is our prayer for our church family this year and forever. We pray that our family would be passionate about both serving and adopting those caught up in affliction without a family of their own; that we would choose to take on their suffering so they don’t have to. Let it be so in Lexington and in the Church.
Songs from This Week:
Grace Alone- Citizens and Saints
Build My Life- Housefires
Jesus Thank You- Sovereign Grace Music
What a Beautiful Name- Hillsong Worship w/ Brooke Ligertwood
We’ve made it. This past Sunday was our last Sunday looking at God’s calling for Christian exiles in 1st Peter. Matt Crawford, who is part of Midtown Columbia’s Leadership Institute, joined us this 14th week to share with us Peter’s call for the exiles to live in firm humility, looking at 1 Peter 5:4-11. Peter gives the exiles three specific instances in which it is important to practice humility.
1.) Peter calls the exiles to be humble by being subject to the elders
2.) Peter calls the exiles to clothe themselves in humility toward one another
3.) Peter calls the exiles to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God
So with a healthy understand of how to submit to humility within our church family, Matt gave us three reasons as to why we should submit to humility.
1.) Submit to humility because, at the right time, God will exalt us as He cares for us.
2.) Submit to humility so we will be sober-minded and equipped to diligently resist the schemes of the adversary.
3.) Submit to humility, because there is full assurance that Lord will fully restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us as His people at the end of days.
Humility, then, is a posture that correctly recognizes who we are before God and other people. It frees us up to resist our enemy the devil and the seductions of this world. It frees us to a wonderful life - a life of humble resistance. It’s tough. Unbelievably tough. But it’s worth it. For every area of our lives, we need a savior first, and an example second. In the case of humility, we have the perfect humble savior who is our chief shepherd - not domineering, but a perfect example of humility. His being willing to humble himself and live the life that we could not live, die the very death that we deserve, and raise us up to new life with him by grace, through faith. He perfectly resisted temptation because he knew the joy that was set before him. His willingness to do that is also our motivation. Because the joy set before us is when he appears either to us after our death, or when he returns, we will receive the unfading crown of glory, which is eternal life.
Songs from this week:
Praise the Lord Ye Heavens Adore Him- Young Oceans
All I Have is Christ- Summit Worship
Hallelujah! What A Savior! - Ascend the Hill
You Hold Me Now- Hillsong
We are in the semifinal of our Exiles series. For this thirteenth week of exploring God’s plan for Christians exiles in 1st Peter, Brandon Clements talked us through what the Bible says about those called and equipped to be elders in our church family. The fundamental question that we explored this week was this: according to the Bible, what makes a pastor? We use this passage and others at Midtown to discern what the job of being a pastor/elder looks like for our church family, and we came to a few distinct conclusions:
1.) There should be multiple elders
The consistent biblical model for church leadership is a team of elders where each elder
contributes their unique giftedness and strength in a way that covers the weaknesses of
the others. This ensures that even at the micro-level, our church family is operating and
function as a family; multiple believers working together for the glory of God.
2.) Elders are to be charged with shepherding the flock and exercising oversight
Just like family is the primary picture in the New Testament for the church, shepherding
is the primary picture for pastoring. Elders/pastors shepherd through the teaching of
God’s Word, by guiding or steering church family, by protecting the family against false
teachings or selfish division, and by being an active part of family life.
3.) Elders should lead willingly, and not under compulsion
Elders are not forced to “eld,” but do so voluntarily and according to their calling and
equipping that comes from God. For Midtown, this means that elders and pastors are
leading and pastoring our church family long before they come on staff. Coming on staff
as an elder or pastor is only a response of affirmation that a pastor or elder had already
been voluntarily leading our church family in sacrificial ways before they are being paid
4.) Elders should lead eagerly, and not for shameful gain
Elders are called to lead eagerly, or with a “cheerful readiness.” You have to want to
pastor people for the right reasons. Elders and pastors don’t do so to exercise a
celebrity status, or to make a hefty salary, but because they have a cheerful readiness to
shepherd their church family in sacrificial ways.
5.) Elders should lead as examples to the flock
Elders and pastors shall not stand above their flock with prideful superiority. There is nothing that an elder or pastor asks of you that they are not already doing themselves. All of our pastors at Midtown are actively in or leading a Lifegroup, giving of their finances to the church, and serving our family sacrificially outside the bounds of their job titles. And above all of this, Jesus is our chief shepherd; our head pastor. He never lacks in leadership and will never lead us astray. His guidance is perfect and His example to the flock is totally sufficient. The elders and pastors do their best, but when they fail, we have assurance in the gospel that Jesus is doing a good work among our elders and church family regardless.
Songs from this week:
Jesus! –Citizens and Saints
What a Beautiful Name- Hillsong Worship
Saviour King- Hillsong Chapel
Jesus Thank You- Sovereign Grace Music
We were super excited to have Brandon Clements back preaching with our Lexington family for
our 12 th week in the “Exiles” series in 1st Peter. This week, Brandon taught through 1st Peter 4:7-11 and shows us Peter’s calling for those in the church family to work together to change the world. In this passage, Peter encourages the exiles to display the gospel that we have tasted and seen in Jesus through four main ways:
1.) Be Sober-Minded- Verse 7
Peter calls the exiles to get their minds right; to arm themselves with the same way of thinking
to be willing to choose suffering; to do hard things for other people. Peter urges the exiles to be sober minded and to make sure that they are fighting for the right things, because he knows all too well that our time as a church family in exile is going to be short-lived. In light of the fact that our time here is short, Peter wants to make sure that the exiles don’t wake up one day and proclaim, “Man! I really didn’t spend my life well.”
2.) Love One Another Earnestly- Verse 8
Ask yourself this: would anyone suspect Jesus as a factor in the way you love the people around you? For real though, if someone that didn’t really know you well looked at the way you
interacted with and cared for people in your life, would they have a reason to think that Jesus
might be the motivation behind it? This is what Peter is getting at in verse 8. Loving one
another earnestly is to give up your time and space to care for those around you, even when it
3.) Show Hospitality to One Another Without Grumbling- Verse 9
Peter knew that being hospitable was a costly thing for people, and that sometimes being
hospitable could seem more like a burden than a blessing. However, Peter also knew that
family happens in homes. Family happens around the table, and around mugs at the breakfast
nook, and bonfires in the backyard. The world doesn’t need more “church friends,” the world
needs more family. Bring people in to your homes to experience the intimate and messy parts
of life together for the sake of building gospel community.
4.) Serve One Another- Verses 10-11
A healthy church family should show off God accurately in the insistence that everyone plays.
That is to say, there should be no spectators in our church family. Peter urges the exiles to step up and take ownership of the life and healthy and vitality of our shared church community.
Brandon closed the sermon by offering 4 practical ways to take ownership for those that are a
part of our church family.
1.) Take your role as Lifegroup member seriously.
2.) Take your role in Gatherings seriously.
4.) Own your block.
We’ve been given a beautiful mission as exiles. Let’s commit to living and working well together as we move towards changing the world with the people we love.
Songs from this Week:
1. Before the Throne- King’s Kaleidescope
2. What a Beautiful Name- Hillsong Worship
3. Rock of Ages- Ascend the Hill
4. Grace Alone- King’s Kaleidescope
In our eleventh week studying through 1st Peter, Michael Bailey teaches us what Peter has to
say to the exiles about fighting against social comfort to choose to pursue being on mission
with one another for the sake of the gospel.
In this passage, Peter encourages the exiles to remember the mindset that Christ had in the
way that we choose hard things for the sake of others. It’s only because Jesus models choosing hard things for other people that we can do the same.
1.) What does your checking account say you’re living for?
2.) What is your primary question when making decisions about what to do with your life,
time, money, or possessions?
Jesus is very clear that if you want to know where your priorities lie, check where you’re
spending all of your money. He also teaches us to have a new outlook when making decisions
about our personal time and assets. In fact, if you’re living only for yourself, you are wasting your life. You only have one life to life, so make sure to spend it on what matters!
Our Mission Field
There are so many mission fields around us boiling over with good opportunities to choose to
do the hard things for the sake of the gospel. If you arm yourself with the way of thinking that
Jesus had, you can’t lose! There are no circumstances that can stop the work that the gospel is
doing to change hearts and reconcile people back to the Father.
In light of all of this, we can we be free to make sure we don’t
-waste our lives
- waste our family
-waste our neighborhoods
-waste our money
-waste our job or retirement
These are all perfect places to choose to do the hard things for other people. Have the hard
conversation. Don’t hide in your office during lunch hour. Don’t stay inside all weekend
watching football. Invite people in to share your life and to share what the gospel is doing in
your families lives. Don’t waste your life on yourself; you’re meant for more than that!
Songs from this week:
All Glory Be Forever- Sovereign Grace Music
Praise the Lord Ye Heaven’s Adore Him- Young Oceans
We Sing As One- Young Oceans
By His Grace- The Dispatch
For the tenth week of our Exiles series in 1st Peter, We looked at 1st Peter 3:18-22. These verses show us three things:
1. The best news in the world
2. How to make it yours
3. What to do next
The Best News in the world
1 Peter 3:18 Is one of the spots in the bible that boils down the entire mission of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection down into one sentence. Everything that Jesus is about and has done gets wrapped up into this little verse and is literally the best thing imaginable and it’s broken into 3 parts:
- The greatest problem in the world, the greatest problem in your life and mine, is sin.
- God has taken the initiative to overcome our sin by offering Jesus to suffer in our place. Christ suffered for sin in our place
- Christ suffered for sin in our place, in order to bring us to God. Not only does Christ’ sacrifice declare us righteous, but it brings us to God
How to make it yours
This is the most important thing any of us can do with our time here on earth. The way we take the free gift of Jesus’s baptism is to trust in Jesus to save us. There is nothing else that will satisfy, nothing else that will cover our sin, the only answer is to trust in Christ alone, he is the only vessel.
What to do next
What to do next is what Jesus commanded, repent and be baptized. Once we have realized that we are a sinner in need of a savior we are commanded to repent and be baptized. We repent in order to be washed clean of our sins by Jesus Christ and we are baptized as a symbol of what Jesus had done for us. It is a declaration to the world that I have been saved by Jesus Christ. That our debt has been paid in full.
For the ninth week of our Exiles series in 1st Peter, we went back to look at the first seven verses of chapter three that we didn’t cover last week. In 1 Peter 3:1-7, Peter writes to the exiles about how the way they treat their wives or husbands should look different than the world that they live in.
Michael started off by giving us 6 helpful things that submission IS NOT when talking about Biblical a wife’s submission to her spouse.
1.) Submission is not about women submitting to ALL men
2.) Submissions does not mean mindlessly agreeing with everything your husband says
3.) Submission does not mean avoiding efforts to change a husband
4.) Submissions does not mean following your husband into sin
5.) Submission is not about personality type
6.) Submission is not based on interiority
Peter displays to the exiles that the Christian wife actually has a lot of power in the dynamic of the relationship with her husband. Through the way the wife submits, affirms, and helps her husband, she empowers her relationship by remembering the following attributes that she carries:
1. The Christian wife is life-giving to her husband
2. The Christian wife is life-changing for her husband
3. The Christian wife’s hope is in God, not her appearance
Likewise, Peter speaks into the husband’s role in a gospel-centered marriage. He gives the husband these four direct points to instruct them in how to better care for and lead their wives:
1. The Christian husband should honor his wife
2. The Christian husband seeks to understand his wife
3. The Christian husband uses strength to protect his wife.
4. The Christian husband prayers for and with his wife.
In a world where marriages begin and end at the drop of a hat, Christian marriages have the chance to show off what the world is looking for by showing off Christ in the midst of the marriages themselves. Husbands don’t belong to themselves, and wives don’t belong to themselves. We all belong to Jesus. Let’s pursue marriages like these that can be word-less sermons showing off the wisdom of God
Songs this Week:
Praise the Lord Ye Heaven Adore Him- Young Oceans
My All in Thee- Young Oceans
We Sing as One- Young Oceans
In Christ Alone- Mars Hill Church
In our 8th week of our Exiles series in 1st Peter, we continued talking about what Peter has to say about how the exiles should respond to suffering by looking at 1 Peter 3:8-17. Specifically, we saw this week how Peter calls the exiles to respond both to people are suffering and people who cause suffering.
1.) We get to be a family to the hurting. The church is a family who experiences joy and suffering together. A win for you is a win for me. A loss for you is a loss for me. When you are hurt, we all are hurt. As gospel-centered people, one of the first steps to walking with others when they’re suffering is sympathy. As exiles, we should put some serious effort into seeking to understand the source of other people’s hurting so that we can hurt with them and seek to share the gospel in the midst of it. Because we know where our hope to endure suffering comes from, we can sympathize with other people in the hope that we can share the hope we have in Christ with them in the midst of their suffering.
2.) We get to be a blessing to the hurtful. Peter implores the exiles to not repay “reviling for reviling.” Reviling is the idea that we will intentionally use our words to get back at someone when we feel like they’ve wronged us. It’s verbal hostility. The gospel calls us to do the exact opposite when that may even go against our basic instincts. The gospel frees us to be offended by other people or hurt by other people without having to hurt back. Jesus did this better than anyone. When He was slandered or wronged, He was a blessing for his accusers and even died for them. We can respond to reviling by caring for people, and by loving them. As exiles, we get to go out of our way to do good to those that hurt us.
In all of this, both in our suffering and our response to the suffering of others, Peter knows that this type of unshakeableness, this type of hope no matter the odds, is going to be attractive and beautiful to those not yet a part of the church and that it will also unnerve and bewilder others. When we endure suffering in light of the gospel and care for those that suffer and create suffering in light of the gospel, people won’t be able to help but to Jesus in the lives of us exiles.
-Rock of Pages- Page CXVI
-I Will Exalt You- Brooke Fraser
-Man of Sorrows- Hillsong
-Father You Are All We Need- Citizens and Saint
Can you believe we’ve already been in our Exiles series for seven weeks?! This week we looked at 1 Peter 2:18-25, where Peter wants to teach us what it means to successfully endure suffering as exiles in light of the gospel.
We started off our time by talking about the different types of suffering we may endure. Michael Bailey identified five different reasons that we may face suffering in our lives:
1.) We experience suffering through being exposed to a broken creation.
Sometimes, just because of the way sin fractured the world from God, we suffer because things don’t go the way they should.
2.) We experience suffering as victims to someone else’s sin.
Not only creation, but people too have been busted and messed up from the way we were supposed to be. We suffer because people don’t act like they are supposed to.
3.) We experience suffering from people who oppose us.
Sometimes those in Christ will suffer because the ungodly oppose the image of Christ is us.
4.) We experience suffering because we choose to follow Christ.
When we lay down our sins for the first time, we way suffer as our long held desire to sin works against our new hearts to follow Christ.
5.) We experience suffering from loss and empathy.
When someone we love is hurting or experiencing loss, we hurt and feel the loss with them. This is a suffering that comes from the gospel’s heart for us to bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters alongside them.
Suffering, not matter what type it is, is a common experience amongst all humanity. But for the Christian exiles, the gospel gives us the power to respond and endure suffering in incredibly unique and beautiful ways because of the one who suffered on our behalf. Peter gives us three ways we endure suffering in light of the gospel:
1.) In your suffering, do not respond with sin.
Sin is never a solution to pain and sin is not justified by pain.
2.) In your suffering, know that it is not going to last.
The good news of the gospel is that this life is not our final chapter. For the Christian, even long endured suffering will have to end either when you die and go to be with Jesus or Jesus makes His return while you’re still living. Suffering will not ever last as long as Jesus will.
3.) In your suffering, trust is God’s justice and power.
One of the best parts about being exiles is that we can always lean on the truth that we’re citizens of a perfect Kingdom that has no end. Even when injustice seem like the law of the land we’re living in, we can suffer well knowing that our King is a good judge who judges perfectly and with perfect justice in mind.
In your suffering, this is what God invites you into. Though it may not completely and immediately remove you from your suffering, you have no need to fear that suffering will be the end for you. Our perfect Father has promised that suffering will end in the Kingdom that we have been brought in to through His Son Jesus.
Songs from this Week:
I Will Trust You- Bryan and Katie Torwalt
Fix My Eyes- King’s Kaleidescope
Saviour King- Hillsong
You Hole Me Now- HIllsong
In our sixth week of the Exiles series we spent our time looking at 1st Peter 2:13-17. Peter teaches the exiles what it means to be Christians in a political system that doesn’t always agree with the gospel, and what it means to be active members of a society that may hate us.
Peter’s desire for the exiles is to maintain unity and assuredness of the gospel in light of political discord around them. Peter teaches us that Christians shouldn’t be surprised when government and politics don’t work out the way we hope they will, and that we can be secure in the gospel when society is unstable around us. He gives the exiles four ways that they can be a gospel centered people within a secular political system.
1.) Do Good
Christians are meant to engage with the world & society in such a way that boggles the minds of those on the outside. In the midst of political unrest and disunity, Christians should be a breath of fresh air in the way we continue to do good in our communities regardless of the political scene.
2.) Live Like Free People
Christians are a people who ought not be enslaved to particular political party or swayed by the ever changing political climate. Our allegiance should always be first to Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven. Politics will never accomplish the goal of bringing heaven to earth, and only a radial commitment to Jesus over politics will bring the freedom that we want for government to provide for us.
3.) Honor Everyone
Don’t make enemies or belittle people’s opinions. The villainization of people is unequivocally non-Christian. At every corner, we should surprise the world by how the gospel unifies us, even when we encounter believers who have different political views.
4.) Fear God and Honor the Emperor
Know that all politics is in God’s hands. God is god, and the State is not. Also, no matter your political candidate, show honor and respect to those who lead and represent you. Don’t make the mistake that thinking the state or the government or politics can do the work that God is doing in the world. Honor those in power, but know that God is always sovereign over politics.
This week was the fifth week of the Exiles series. We spent our time looking at 1 Peter 2:7-12. Peter teaches us what it means to have our entire identity rooted in Jesus and God’s design for a people that are His own.
We started off my answering two questions:
1) What is identity?
2) How are our identities typically developed?
Identity, is a self-understanding or self-regard, it is a tool for determining our sense of being. Our identity is largely shaped through what culture teaches us. Everything around us is preaching to us: songs, movies, slogans, the news, advertising, and pop culture are always invisibly shaping us to be true about ourselves. And even more so, what our cultures values in relation to identity and self-image is always changing too! What was seen as modest and socially acceptable 50 years ago isn’t anywhere near what is seen as modest and socially acceptable now.
The truth is that we are not big enough to build our own identities on. We aren’t strong or secure or consistent enough as people to build something so fundamentally important as a sense of self-worth or self-image off of. We will fail at upholding it every single time.
What does God say about our identity?
Peter shows us 5 identity statements that God says about His people. These are firm foundations for us to build our identity on, given to us in Jesus. In Christ, God calls us:
1. A Chosen Race
2. A Royal Priesthood
3. A Holy Nation
4. A People for God’s Own Possession
5. Recipients of Mercy
Christian--what all of this means is that now, whenever someone tells you that you need to go find out who you are--you get to look them in the eye and say “No I don’t. I’ve already been told who I am. I am part of God’s chosen race. I’m a member of an eternal royal priesthood under the God of the universe. I am one of God’s people--His crew--that will be with Him forever. I’m an undeserving recipient of His mercy. I know who I am.”
Songs from This Week
Come Thou Fount by King’s Kaleidoscope
We Sing as One by Young Oceans
All the Poor and Powerless by All Sons and Daughters
Father You are All We Need by Citizens and Saints
This was our fourth week of our series, Exiles. We came out of 1 Peter 1:22-2:6 where we discovered what it means to be a part of a forever family in Christ. Here is a quick recap:
Peter’s main focus in this passage is reminding the exiles of their new and changed reality; that they are now adopted into the family of Christ.
People are like grass, but the word of the Lord stands forever
Peter reminds us that even when everything and everyone else around us is changing or failing us in some way, the promises of God through the personhood of Jesus will stand forever. And, since we have been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable,” we can have confidence that our new family, in which we were adopted into, will truly be a forever family.
We have seen this truth lived out through hundreds of years of persecution. Even when the church has been hated by society or Christians are executed, the forever family of the church has prevailed. People are like grass, but the word of the Lord stands forever.
Learning to act like a Forever Family
Peter identifies the following as counter to a forever family mentality:
Deceit and Hypocrisy
The bottom line is this: We have been born again to a Jesus-Centered forever family. We long for his goodness and we build everything upon his foundation. This gives us the freedom to love our forever family like Jesus has loved us. We are only forever family because of the enduring work of God.
Songs from this week:
Psalm 18- Citizens and Saints
Come Thou Fount- King’s Kaleidoscope
Man of Sorrows- Hillsong
Jesus Thank You- Sovereign Grace
This week was the third week of our current series, Exiles. We talked about what the Bible has to say about holiness, looking at 1st Peter 1:14-21. Here is a quick recap:
Peter wants the exiles to understand that their mission isn’t just to show the world what heaven is like, but to show the world what God is like. Peter shows them that the only way to showcase the truest sense of what God is like is for us to be holy.
4 Truths about Holiness
1) Holiness is not self-righteousness
Holiness is humble, whimsical, and gracious. It’s a demeanor that can only come from being in a relationship with Jesus. As we walk with Him, His holiness flows through you. It’s something God has to do in you and through you, to make you look like Him even when you know you could never look like Him on your own. Holiness isn’t self-righteousness; it’s humble confidence in Jesus’ righteousness.
2) Holiness is not boring
Sin is utterly predictable. It’s boring to the point of being asinine. It’s the same story of self-interest leading to despair and damage, every single time. But in the midst of the insanity and boredom and predictability of our sin, God steps in and says you are ransomed from your futile ways. Holiness is not boring, or stodgy, or lame. It’s joyful and unpredictable. It’s what we were all made for.
3) Holiness is more then inaction
In modern Christianity, it seems like the focus is largely on holiness by avoidance. There are definitely things that the Scriptures call us to avoid as but holiness by avoidance is not at all representative of the totality of what it means to represent God through holiness. God doesn’t just not do things. He’s acting and moving and working. In order to be a faithful Christian and follow God into His holiness, we have to care about holiness by avoidance and holiness by action. Holiness is doing what God does.
4) Holiness isn’t a performance
Ultimately, holiness isn’t something that we can accomplish on our own. The reality is that you cannot perform your way into being someone’s child. It requires them to act on your behalf, either by giving birth to you or adopting you. Holiness isn’t a performance. Holiness is the product of being with your Father. You won’t glow with God’s utter uniqueness, joy and holiness unless you know Him and grow to act like Him.
Praise The Lord Ye Heaven Adore Him by Young Oceans
My All in Thee by Young Oceans
Before the Throne by King's Kaleidoscope
We Sing as One by Young Oceans
This week was our second week of our current series, Exiles. We spoke about what salvation is out of 1 Peter 1:3-13. Here is a quick recap:
Peter breaks Salvation into three main categories: Past Salvation, Present Salvation, and Future Salvation. He goes onto explain what each of these mean for us as Christians and how they are good news.
Throughout human history, we’ve felt a sense of estrangement that comes from being separated from God. We can sense something is wrong just by watching the evening news and seeing all the terrible things that are happening. Eden is lost, yet we all ache for it.
There’s nothing we can do to make ourselves right with God. Nothing we can do to deal with the sense of estrangement, loss and dissatisfaction we feel. Nothing we can do to bring Eden back. But there is something God can do and He’s done it through His son, Jesus. He sent Jesus to live the perfect human life; perfectly pleasing to God. He lived as we were designed to live, and He died a brutal death on a cross to pay the price for our rebellion, and then rose from the dead to defeat sin and death. In other words Past Salvation secures our standing with God.
Present salvation means we are never alone. God promises in the book of Hebrews that He will never leave us or forsake us. We are invited into the eternal community that exists between the Trinity. God has saved us into an active, living and abiding relationship with Jesus where we get to walk in relationship with Him. That is the wonderful news of present salvation.
When we know the inheritance and eternal future that awaits us, we don’t get as upset when life here on earth doesn’t go quite how we want it to. Future salvation frees us completely from trying to find heaven here on Earth. We are freed to joyfully accept all things--hardships, sacrifices, discomforts; because we know they are only temporary as we live as exiles on this Earth. Future salvation frees us from the tyranny of circumstance.
In Tenderness by Citizens and Saints
All Glory be Forever by Sovereign Grace Music
The One Who Saves by Hillsong
I Will Trust You by Lauren Daigle
This week was our first week of our new series, Exiles, which is based out of 1 Peter. We spoke about the separation of the church and the world out of 1 Peter 1:1-2. Here is a quick recap:
In the first two verses Peter refers to his audience as “exiles”. Here’s why that’s significant: Peter is not just writing this to them to simply point out they are people living in countries that may or not be their home country. He’s actually pointing to a much deeper spiritual reality: it’s not merely that this country is not your home, but this world is not your home. Here’s why this matters, The Bible gives us two broad categories for humanity; the church and the world.
Throughout history, Christians have failed to remember that life here is temporary instead of permanent. When this happens we have three typical responses:
When we think this is our home we withdraw or attempt to hide from our culture. We seek to protect ourselves and our children from everything in the “big, bad world” and create a “home”. This causes us to become distinct and separate. So, everything we do and everywhere we go has to have this “Christian” label in front of it.
When we think this is our home we feel the need to adapt. This looks like giving God a makeover by changing what he has said in order to water down the gospel. The reality is the Gospel is offensive. The statement you are a sinner that deserves Hell will always offend people. The other way we conform is we don’t really take back what God has said, it’s just that we don’t live by it.
This is when we try and make this our home. We attempt to gain power in the political or business worlds in an attempt to force the world to act like the church. The problem is it is generally the church that ends up looking like the world.
But all of these responses fall woefully short of what God actually intends for his church to be. We should understand that we are never intended to quite fit in, wherever we are. We should always be a bit different. We have different beliefs and values, different ways of approaching life that are distinct and unusual to those on the outside. We are not tourists. We are to function in society, know the language, and befriend our neighbors. We also don’t assimilate. We are not at home here. The church isn’t meant to run, fight, or conform… its meant to proclaim.
Grace Alone by King's Kaleidoscope
All my Hope by Hillsong
All I have is Christ by Sovereign Grace
We Sing as One by Young Oceans