Summary: The fourth sermon of the initial 2009 series: ‘2 Things 2 B in ’09: A peacemaker and a missionary’
Slide 1) Almost three decades ago, Christine Tolbert Norman watched as her father, the president of Liberia, and 16 members of his cabinet, get tied up and machine-gunned to death by a group of drunken solders. Then, along with her mother and rest of her family, they were placed under house arrest for a period until they escaped to another county.
After she was married, she and her husband began attending a Bible Study and was introduced to a ministry that taught her how to truly be free from sin and hatred and other soul binding powers. It helped her begin the process of forgiveness toward those who had murdered her father.
While this was going on, the leaders of her native Liberia, concluded that the problems of their county needed more than a political or military solution, it needed a spiritual solution. Christine felt that what she had learned was the answer.
So a process was begun and nearly 15 years after the brutal murder of their President, Christian believers as well as national leaders at all levels of government and society came together and confessed and repented of their role and complicity in the murders that had been committed.
As I read and pondered this story, one thought was, ‘I cannot relate to Christine. I have never personally experienced such violence and hatred in my life. I am not sure if I would have the desire to make peace with those who did this to my father and family.’
Another thought was, ‘Christine is a much greater believer than I could ever be. She is a saint.’ A third thought was, ‘Only God could make such a reconciliation happen, not me. Look what God can do if we allow Him to have His way!’
A final thought is embodied in the title of my sermon, ‘Peacemaking is an inside out job.’ It has to begin within each human being and then move outward into the web and community of relationships each human being is a part of.
We have spent this first month of 2009 looking at the following aspects of Biblical peacemaking. (Slide 2)
• Understand the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping
• Practice the Biblical pattern of reconciliation
• Discern the nature of conflict
Today, we conclude this portion of our series with this aspect of peacemaking (Slide 5)
• Accept that peacemaking is an ‘inside out’ process
Our main text for this morning is Matthew 7:1-5: (Slide 6) Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. 2For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.
(Slide 7) And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?
(Slide 8) 5Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Now this is a very well known and oft quoted passage of scripture. It is also part of the ‘inside outness’ of peacemaking.
Now to understand it correctly a couple of observations need to be made. First, Jesus is not telling His audience (and us) to suspend all judgment. What He is telling His audience (and us) to stop is our biting and unfair criticism of others.
Second, Jesus says that if you want to get along, then treat others as you would want to be treated because the measure (or the kind and type) of criticism you use will be used on you in return.
Then Jesus’ gives an exaggerated perspective on unfair and unjust criticism that is designed to help us clarify our own blind spots with regard to our attitudes; our frame of reference. Basically, He says this: ‘Why are you all bent out of shape over this issue? Stop for a moment and take a second look.
What is the issue here? What is it that makes you so upset? Take a look at your heart, do an attitude check first. Is this really so important to get so worked up over? Listen buster, deal with your side of the street first and then help, if you can, the other side of the street.’
Steven Covey illustrates this passage so well with a story that is worth remembering. He recalls riding on the New York subway one Sunday morning. It was a quiet time with many simply reading the paper, resting, or thinking quietly to themselves.
But the quiet was shatter when a man and his children entered the car Covey was sitting in. The man sat down and appeared impervious to the noisy and rambunctious children who began to disturb the other passengers.