Summary: Part 18 in the series Love Never Dies, this message looks at God, guns and wealth.
Love Never Dies, prt. 18
Wildwind Community Church
August 22, 2010
Well, I’ll just tell you right up front this morning that we’re skipping a chapter! I’ll be gone again next week and when I called to ask Dr. Joe to preach for me a few weeks back I told him we’d be on chapter 19. Jason was going to cover 18 last week, but then we both decided last week would be the best time to do the Group Workcamp presentation. So rather than extend an already long series another week, we’re just going to skip John 17, okay? Lots of great stuff in there, nothing against John 17 – we just need to keep moving. I thought about not saying anything and seeing if anyone noticed, but then I figured I’d better tell you.
Okay, John chapter 18. I think this chapter is going to help us put together some really awesome stuff and I’m excited about digging in this morning. I want to talk to you about a controversial topic, but it’s one that I don’t think should really be all that controversial. It’s a topic I have never in eight years seriously addressed in a sermon, yet it is a fairly clear teaching of Christ’s. I want to talk to you today about non-violence.
My friends, for too long the Christian church has majored in the minors, and minored in the majors. We have focused on things like homosexuality and abortion and premarital sex (none of which Jesus had a single word to say about), and overlooked things like quietness and simplicity and non-violence, which Jesus clearly taught – either by word or example or both. Now why do you think we do that? Why do you think that we have come to focus on things Jesus never really talked about, and ignore things he explicitly modeled and said? Do you think it’s because we are evil? Do you think it’s because we intentionally have set out to emphasize the wrong things? I don’t think that at all. I think we major in the minors and minor in the majors because it’s easier that way. We live in a culture that simply cannot hear two of Christ’s core teachings, which are on simplicity (rejection of materialism) and non-violence. This culture cannot hear those messages because they are two of the pillars of our society. Where would we be in America if the church had truly embraced those teachings? Could there be an America at all?
God and guns, baby, that’s our creed. Oh yeah! And wealth – the endless pursuit of riches, the near worship of “the market." God, guns, and wealth. Jesus was of course all about God, but he specifically taught against violence, and against the piling up of riches and the pursuit of material comforts. But committing (or at least endorsing) various forms of violence and piling up riches are things most Christians in America WANT to be able to do. And so we offer a version of Christianity where the clear teachings against violence and materialism have been purged, and then we substitute teachings against homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and abortion. I’m not implying that the Bible as a whole is completely silent on these issues, all I’m saying is that Jesus was silent on them. Again, I just feel like that’s going to sound like a radical statement to some people, but it’s simply a statement of fact. As individuals and as a church, we need to be finding, facing, and following truth. The truth is that Jesus didn’t address most of the things that James Dobson seems to think Christianity is all about.
But to Americans, this stuff is the gospel. And that would be okay except for the fact that it isn’t the gospel. If we are accepting as gospel things that are not gospel, then we have certainly overlooked as gospel some of the things that really are supposed to be.
Is this getting uncomfortable? It might be for some, because when you start questioning the pairing of God and guns, and then question the endless pursuit of prosperity, you have desecrated core American values. And so, invariably, what happens is that people rush to politics to prop up their positions. They’ll pull out references to communism and Hitler and all kinds of radical and ridiculous stuff. People will go to great lengths to defend their values. This of course shows why we don’t hear the gospel of non-violence and simplicity to begin with. It also shows why most of our great spiritual teachers have been either murdered or dismissed as lunatics. Both are very effective ways of making sure that their challenging and revolutionary messages don’t spread very far. It also shows what Jesus meant when he said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven . When we have a lot, we have a lot to defend, and a lot to lose.