Summary: Second sermon of initial 2009 series: ‘2 Things 2 B in 09’

(Slide 1) Whoever said that politics is boring? It certainly isn’t these days, is it?

We have seen this week a person, appointed by an embattled governor to be the next senator of that state, refused admission to the United States senate chambers. Why? Because his papers were not in order as they needed to be. (Of course, the press has also indicated other reasons as well.)

Then we have another senate seat still undecided in which a lawsuit is filed to get uncounted ballots, counted. The outcome is still undetermined. (Haven’t we been here before?) Who said politics is boring?

One of my personal projects these days is to read a biography or autobiography of every US President. One that I really enjoyed reading was Edward McCullogh’s biography of Harry Truman.

It, like other Presidential biographies, is filled with stories of conflict. One that really caught my attention was the conflict that arose when Dwight Eisenhower, who would replace Truman as President, did not accept Truman’s offer to help him get the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. (Eisenhower won as a Republican.) It made Truman angry and it caused a rift to develop between the two that lasted pretty much through the rest of their lives. (McCullough, if I remember correctly, indicated that there was a “slight thaw” in the relationship but it was never close.)

Conflict is present everywhere- in Washington, Indianapolis, Albion, and Kendallville. It is present in our schools, factories, neighborhoods, and churches. It is this way because conflict is in our hearts from where it begins and comes.

(Slide 2) Today is the second sermon in our initial 2009 series ‘2 Things 2 B in 09’ and they are a peacemaker and a missionary. We are addressing our role of peacemaker this month and will address the role of missionary next month. (BTW, if you have wanted to review any of my sermons, I am now posting them to a blog (on-line journal) and you can access them at this address, (Slide 3) (Enough shameless self-promotion!)

Last week I shared with you four main points regarding the role of peacemaking and here they are:

(Slide 4)

To be God’s peacemaker is to understand the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping.

(Slide 5)

To be God’s peacemaker is to practice the Biblical pattern of reconciliation.

(Slide 6)

To be God’s peacemaker is to: discern the nature of conflict.

(Slide 7)

To be God’s peacemaker is to: accept that peacemaking is an ‘inside out’ process.

Last week we examined the differences between peacemaking and peacekeeping. Today (Slide 8) we look at the practice of Biblical reconciliation.

(Slide 9) I thought about titling my sermon, “Practice Makes Perfect.” However, I simply titled it ‘Right’ because of what Neil T. Anderson and Charles Mylander says about resolving conflict with others. It needs to be they say, accomplished with God’s help and by (Slide 9a) ‘talking to the right person in the right spirit at the right time.’

I would also add this morning, (Slide 9b) ‘in the right way.’ We find the right way to make peace when we follow the guidelines that Jesus himself set in Matthew 18:15-17: (Slide 10)

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won’t accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

When it comes to conflict resolution, this passage is given repeatedly as the pattern for resolving conflict. Granted, other passages deal with conflict, but this passage is perhaps the most quoted one. A closer look is required of us this morning if we seek to be Biblical peacemakers.

Now, again we need to study this passage in the context in which it is written. Chapter 18 begins with Jesus speaking about the importance of childlikeness when it comes to belief in and admission to the Kingdom of God.

He continues this line of thinking with a memorable passage concerning the need to ‘cut something off’ as an illustration of letting go of things that cause us to stumble and fall and then concludes with the story of the persistent shepherd who seeks the one lost sheep. Then comes our main text for today and it is followed by the story of the unforgiving debtor as an answer to Peter’s question about how much forgiveness is required to forgive someone who sins/offends/hurts you.

So, in the midst of stories about conflict and redemption, Jesus lays out a process for resolution that is necessary for peacemaking.

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