Rethinking Community

Intro 

Our world has many marginalized people. The socially excluded lack access to housing, employment, healthcare, civic participation, and legal protection. Second class citizenship leads to poverty, crime, suicide, and drug addiction. The solution begins with something that Jesus taught, social inclusion.

Goal 

Let’s learn how exclusive attitudes create an unrighteous division that God despises, and let's see a principle from Jesus that begins to solve one of our society’s greatest problems, marginalization.

Sermon Plan

We will discuss Luke 14:1-14 and inclusiveness. (To get the most out of this video, pause it and take a few moments to read the passage in your own Bible. Then restart the video for a discussion of marginalization and how to solve it.)

Problem: Marginalized by Absurd Rules (Luke 14:1-6)

Luke 14:1 One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. 2 There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” 4 When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. 5 Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” 6 Again they could not answer.
Exegesis
Invited to a Sabbath meal at a religious leader’s home, Jesus was watched closely. A man with hydropsy (an oedema, a swelling) was healed. People knew Jesus’ compassion and perhaps set a trap to see if he would heal on the day of rest. Jesus pointed out the absurdity of rescuing animals on the Sabbath but not rescuing sick people.
Hermeneutic
Literally, the Old Testament Sabbath was a mandatory rest day. Morally, human traditions regarding the Sabbath often made it a burden instead of a joy. Allegorically, church traditions can also become burdensome rules that harm the marginalized. Are church services a time of physical and spiritual healing? Prophetically, a weekly rest day pictures eternal rest for the poor and sick.
Application
What exlusive rules does our society have that prevents the marginalized from starting a business or having access to health care and earning a reasonable income? What exclusive rules can we fight to change, so that the socially excluded can get some fairness and justice? Does the Christian community have a responsibility in fighting for fair national and community laws?

Cause: Taking God’s Seat (Luke 14:7-11)

Luke 14:7 When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: 8 “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? 9 The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! 10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. 11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Exegesis
Jesus observed the pushing and shoving for position at a Sabbath banquet. He shared a parable about a wedding feast to teach humility. Proverbs 25:6-7 says something similar. Conceited religious teachers had also taken God’s place by imposing their Sabbath rules. Arrogance does not understand the basic wisdom that humility brings honor (Proverbs 15:33; 16:18-19; 29:23).
Hermeneutic
Literally, we should take the lesser seat. Morally, arrogance will be humbled, and humility will be exalted. Arrogance is living a lie. Allegorically, the last will be first and the first will be last. Humility is honestly facing reality that we are only dust, humus. Prophetically, those who humble themselves in obedience to God will receive chief positions in eternity.
Application
What can we do personally and socially to overcome the tendency to snobbishness and social standing? How humble are we? Do we fight to take the chief seats and exclude others by making silly rules? Is our participation in church and local community for self-aggrandizement or to help others? Do we monopolize the leadership and exclude others from an opportunity?

Solution: Being More Inclusive (Luke 14:12-14)

Luke 14:12 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
Exegesis
Jesus gave us all a list of people that we ought NOT to invite: our friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. His A-list included the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Who was invited to our last party? How many on Jesus’ A-list were welcomed? How many people who are on Jesus’ A-list do we even know personally?
Hermeneutic
Literally, do we invite those on Jesus’ A-list? Morally, are church leaders setting the example of hospitality (1 Timothy 3:1-2; Titus 1:7-8)? Allegorically, when we invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, do we invite Jesus? Mystically, does the kingdom of heaven belong to the poor and earth belong to the humble (Matthew 5:3-10)?
Application: Rethinking Community
Ancient Christian communities were known for welcoming the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and strangers (Hebrews 13:2). Some of the first hospitals were places of hospital-ity for the needy. There was usually no charge for the hospitality although the able-bodied helped with household work. These ancient “hospitals” also housed traveling strangers. Hospitality as a profit-making business was almost completely unknown. It was seen as an ethical and moral requirement of local communities in ancient Jewish and Christian culture. Christian homes often had room for strangers and some even included special facilities for the sick. How inhospitable have we become, to where our hospitals and hospitality have become big business, charging large sums by people making extravagant incomes?

Outro/Take Home

Our problem is a society that excludes the marginalized leading directly to poverty, crime, suicide, and drug addiction. The cause of marginalization is social exclusion. Jesus taught the solution: social inclusion. It begins with you and me. When we include the marginalized in our circle of friends, we begin to understand them and how lies have perpetuated their exclusion.
Man-made church rules can be arrogant declarations of exclusion. Christians can also be guilty of the exclusive pushing and shoving that Jesus witnessed among Jewish leaders. Society’s A-list is a perversion, a false exclusivity. Those honored in this world are often on a very different list than those honored in heaven. God’s desire is that we acknowledge our true state, humbly obey Him, and include those that society excludes.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

You are Set Free

Intro 

Are we truly free in Christ or are we still in a state of bondage?

Goal 

Let’s learn that religious bondage is every bit as bad as slavery.

Sermon Plan

Let’s discuss Luke 13:10-17 healing, the Sabbath and freedom.
Luke 13:10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!
14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”
15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”
17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

You are Set Free (vs 10-13)

Exegesis
In the synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus saw a woman with a spirit of weakness, some kind of muscular disorder, caused by evil forces. Jesus told her that she was released or set free from the sickness. Jesus touched her in an appropriate gesture of encouragement to her faith and she was made straight and praised God for her healing.
Hermeneutic
Literally, Jesus healed a woman with a weakness caused by an evil spirit. By analogy, she was freed on the day of freedom from work. Morally, Jesus, as the creator of the Sabbath day, had every right to determine what was appropriate conduct on that day. Prophetically the Sabbath pictures our day of eternal rest from wickedness all around us.

Biblical Healing

Exegesis
Jesus healed a woman through word and touch. James (5:13-16) mentions faith, prayer and anointing oil. Naaman dipped in the Jordan seven times. Jesus made mud from spit and dirt. Faith is not always mandated. Paul sent (anointed) cloths to the sick (Acts 19:11-12). The Bible mentions many ways that healing was done. Within those guidelines is safety.
Hermeneutic
Literally, God heals us, not our prayer efforts or olive oil. By analogy, our care for the sick is a physical representation of the hands of Jesus, who does the healing. Morally, we have no right to draw attention to ourselves. Mystically, any healing in this life is only temporary, but symbolic of the permanent healing we receive in eternity.

Rejoice in Freedom (vs 14-17)

Exegesis
Jesus set a woman free on the Sabbath day, but the synagogue leader could only see the day as a day of bondage to man-made rules of Sabbath observance. Jesus bluntly addresses the clear hypocrisy where cattle are set free to be watered on the Sabbath and clearly this “daughter of Abraham” should be set free of her crippling disease.
Hermeneutic
Literally, the comparison of freeing cattle and the woman shamed the synagogue leader. By analogy, many of our man-made church rules are called into question. Morally, any interpretation of Scripture that causes more bondage and less freedom ought to be questioned. Prophetically, would our church traditions sometimes become more Pharisaic than Christ-like? Christianity is a religion of freedom not bondage.

Sabbath Freedom

Exegesis
This is actually a story of two people in bondage, a crippled woman and a synagogue leader. The woman was in bondage to a crippling spirit. The synagogue leader was in bondage to human traditions and the letter of the law. Both needed a healing word from Jesus, one was the word “you are healed;” the other was an intervention.
Hermeneutic
Literally, two people needed to be healed, but in different ways. Morally, Israel was given the Sabbath as a day of freedom from seven workdays in Egypt. By analogy, human society tends to enforce a yoke of bondage, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Prophetically, only Jesus can truly free us from our natural human tendency to take freedom from each other.

Outro/Take Home

Jesus came to set us free from sickness and enslaving human rules. Let us live in the freedom of Christ.

Conflict

Intro 

Is conflict always avoidable? Is conflict always a sign of failure? Can good come from conflict?

Goal 

I want us to learn that conflict is a part of the complete Gospel message.

Sermon Plan

We will discuss Luke 12:49-56, a world on fire, family conflict and interpreting the times.
Luke 12:49 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! 52 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against.
53 ‘Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”
54 Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. 55 When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. 56 You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The World on Fire (vs 49-51)

Exegesis
Jesus came to set the world ablaze. The context is specifically about the fire of division. Peace on earth is in the hearts of men as a gift of the Holy Spirit, but not between all people now. That peace comes with his Second Coming. In the meantime, there will be division between people. Conflict is part of Jesus’ divine plan.
Hermeneutic
Literally, Jesus brought division. Analogously, Jesus suffering is another symbolic baptism among many non-literal baptisms in the Bible. He brought the fire of division. Morally, if we have no church conflict, we should ask if ours is the genuine Christianity of Christ. Prophetically, we should not be shocked by the division that comes within churches and between Christians and non-Christians.
Application
Naïve Christians are shocked by it. Older Christians try to avoid it. But, where human beings are division is unavoidable. We cannot always run and hide from it. So, we should not be shocked when conflict comes around, and be prepared for it when it does. When Jesus preached about his bringing division, he was on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified. We must also remember that although in our country converting to Christianity sometimes causes family problems, in Muslim, Hindu and many other societies it almost always does. Conflict can be good for us. Like fire purifies metals, conflict can purify us. A Christian who has seen many battles is more mature than one who has been mollycoddled.

Family Conflict (vs 52-53)

Exegesis
The description of family division is two-fold. There are two against three and three pairs of one against one. Who is the cause of these family splits? Christ himself takes the blame. He has come to divide people against each other. It is Jesus who divides families, in this context, not some other cause. Is this because some believe and others do not?
Hermeneutic
Literally, Jesus predicts family conflict because of him. By analogy, the whole world will divide into two camps, for and against Christ. Morally, this contradicts Malachi 4:6. Does Malachi only apply to those who follow Jesus, but not to those who refuse him? Prophetically, this foreshadows the great division that will take place in eternity between heaven and hell.
Application
While some conflict is unavoidable and possibly even necessary not all conflict is. For instance, the conflict between conservatives and liberals is often an argument over two sides of the same coin. Conservatives are concerned with loving God through righteous living. Liberals are concerned with loving our neighbor in action. Conservatives are concerned with telling the good news; liberals are concerned with being the good news. We need to live moral lives AND help the poor. We need to both announce the good news AND be the good news to those in need. Both conservatives and liberals have weaknesses. Perhaps a better term is orthodox, because Jesus seems sometimes liberal and other times conservative, yet always teaches the orthodox truth.
Comment
A naturalist once picked up a cocoon and feeling sorry for the butterfly about to emerge he pulled out his pocket knife and slit the cocoon open. The butterfly emerged weak and unable to muster the strength to fly. So it is with our children. If we pamper them too much, they will grow up weak and unable to survive life’s struggles and trials. Many nations became great because people had to struggle and build a land from a rough and hostile environment. Now we live in luxury with grocery shelves filled with food and our civilization is in decline. We are soft and spoiled. Is that why Jesus allows his church to go through conflict, to make us strong?

Interpret the Times (vs 54-56)

Exegesis
The people cannot interpret the times. They don’t see the nearness of the kingdom of heaven. In that part of the world, a cloud rising from the west, the Mediterranean, could indicate rain. Morning wind from the south, from the desert, would indicate a hot day. Yet, they could not or pretended not to see the signs of the kingdom.
Hermeneutic
Literally, Jesus calls the crowd hypocrites. By analogy, would it be many of them who will divide themselves from the faithful? Morally, does the strong word hypocrite seem to place the blame on them for unwillingness to discern signs of the times? Prophetically, is Jesus saying that those who refuse to acknowledge the kingdom of God in their midst, are culpable?

Outro/Take Home

Division is not always avoidable. It is not always a sign of failure. Sometimes it can even be a sign of success. Good can come from conflict. Jesus predicted that we would have divisions among us because of him. Whose side will we be on?

Give to Those in Need

Intro

What good thing ought the church to be known for?

Goal 

Let’s learn something that is a high priority for God, helping the needy.

Plan

Let’s discuss Luke 12:32-40 and how giving to the needy prepares for God’s kingdom.
Luke 12:32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Are We Afraid? (vs 32)

Exegesis
Jesus said to his disciples, “Fear not little flock,” literally meaning don’t be “struck with fear, to be seized with alarm”. [1] The phrase “little flock” specifically refers to the small group of disciples whom Jesus was addressing (vs 22). That flock grew very large over time, to 3,000 on Pentecost and to millions more as the Gospel spread.
[1] THAYER'S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. BibleSoft.com
Hermeneutic
Literally, do we worry too much about things? Do we live in a culture of fear? Are we Christians called to fear religion, or to faith? Morally, does Jesus encourage us to sell what we don’t need and give to the poor? By analogy, is hoarding the opposite of faith? Prophetically, why fear, when God will give us his kingdom!

Do We Give to The Needy? (vs 33)

Exegesis
“Sell your possessions,” Jesus told those who would become the first bishops of the church. He did not so instruct every wealthy Christian. Some wealthy people supported Jesus and his disciples. The apostles were to get rid of excess possessions. Contrary to the lifestyles of some televangelists and bishops, Jesus implied that church leaders should not be greedy for wealth.
Hermeneutic
What false prophets preach smooth things (Isaiah 30:10)? Does God condemn religious worship that neglects the poor (Isaiah 1:10-20)? Did Jesus teach us to deny ourselves and take up our cross (Matthew 16:24-26)? Is our religious activity worthless (Isaiah 1:10-20) if we are not involved in true religion (James 1:27), meaning “give to those in need?”

Where is Our Treasure? (vs 34)

Exegesis
Where is our heart? The answer lies in where our treasure is. Though specifically addressed to the disciples, the principle is the same for all of us. The context is not about what we put in the offering plate, though that could be included as well. The specific context is giving to the needy, revealing a heart with kingdom values.
Hermeneutic
Historically, aren’t our hearts our innermost thoughts? Morally, does a materialistic heart set on a false health and wealth gospel miss the point? Allegorically, do our personal and national budgets reveal our collective and individual generosity or mean-spiritedness? Symbolically, does our money reveal whether our minds are on temporary or eternal things? How much do we give to needy causes?

Are Our Loins Girded? (vs 35-37)

Exegesis
“Be dressed for service.” The context changes from the needy to readiness to let Jesus in at his return. We recall what Jesus said in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, that when we help the needy, we are serving him. A deeper meaning here is Jesus’ Second Coming along with his coming in the form of the needy.
Hermeneutic
Literally, did Jesus encourage us to be dressed and ready for his coming? Morally, did he teach the Christian value of readiness? Allegorically, are we ready to let him in, even if he comes into our lives in the form of a poor street beggar? Prophetically, did he reveal his coming and how service to the needy aids our readiness?

Are We Investing in Eternity? (vs 38-40)

Exegesis
“He will reward,” says Jesus. The investment that we make in God’s kingdom, in the church, in the poor, will be rewarded. The reward may not be in this life, but certainly in the next. An investment in God’s kingdom, including its work in the church and among the poor is an investment like no other, with a heavenly guarantee.
Hermeneutic
Literally, does Jesus encourage us to give to the poor? Morally, is the strong helping the weak a kingdom value? Allegorically, do we see Jesus in the needy, because he became poor for us? Are we on his side? Prophetically, do we picture God’s future kingdom now, a reign that loves and values all human life, by helping the weak?

Outro/Take Home

Helping the needy foreshadows God’s future kingdom and lets everyone see a window into it now. It is an eternal kingdom value. Let’s put self-sacrifice ahead of self-centeredness. Let's be known as the people who love the poor and needy.