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Feb 24, 2019

Taking flak

Taking flak

Passage: Matthew 5:10-12

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: The Highest Good

The Beatitudes end on a bracing note, both assuming and preparing us for rejection on a spectrum from pointed ridicule to lethal violence. That experience continues unabated in more places we care to imagine, but also here where the rejection takes less violent forms. How should we think of Jesus’s hopeful warning when we’re more likely to become complacent (and conflict-avoidant) than follow Him in ways that may provoke the kinds of persecution this passage takes for granted?

Order of Worship

Pre-Service Text: 1 Peter 3:13-14
Call To Worship: from Psalm 27
Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 26:1-15
Sermon Title: Taking flak
Central Text: Matthew 5:10-12
Response: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Benediction: Ephesians 3:20-21
Post-Service Text: Romans 12:14

02.24.19 Sermon Notes

Illustrations

Silicon Valley - Christian Tech

CBS News - Andrew Brunson

Readings & Scripture:

Pre-Service Text: 1 Peter 3:13-14
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should
suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.

Call To Worship: from Psalm 27
LEADER: The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

ALL: Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

LEADER: One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

ALL: I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 26:1-15
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the Lord: 2 “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. 3 It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds. 4 You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, 5 and to listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, 6 then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.’”

7 The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. 8 And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die! 9 Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

10 When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king's house to the house of the Lord and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the Lord. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.”

12 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. 13 Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you. 14 But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. 15 Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the Lord sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”

Central Text: Matthew 5:10-12
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Benediction: Ephesians 3:20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Post-Service Text: Romans 12:14
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Related Scriptures:

  • Psalm 119:84
  • Matthew 5:44
  • *John 15:20
  • Acts 5:33-42
  • Acts 9:1-22
  • Romans 12:14
  • 1 Corinthians 4:12
  • Galatians 1:13-23
  • 2 Timothy 3:12
  • *1 Peter 3:13-18

Discussion Questions & Applications:

  1. Have you ever been treated unfairly, harshly, or worse as a consequence of your faith in Jesus? If so what were the circumstances? What did you feel? How did you respond? How has that experience affected you?
  2. For what reasons might people have been persecuted closer to Jesus’s day? For what reasons now-- in both places far from here or closer to your world?
  3. Thought experiment: what all could you lose for the sake of a public expression of faith in Jesus? What are you most likely to lose? What would that really cost you? What if it happened? What would you do?
  4. What encouragements does Jesus offer for those who will experience persecution? Why would those, to some extent, temper the pain of those experiences?
  5. How is both Jesus’s experience of persecution, and His loving work on our behalf, meant to steel us for rejection or vicious persecution?
  6. Where, if at all, are you licking your wounds that came from being up front with your faith? Or where have you made choices to avoid any kind of rejection? How does Jesus’s response to Peter’s persecution-avoiding denials inform how He might respond to yours?

Quotes

 

  • Wherever St. Paul went, there was a riot. Wherever I go, they serve tea. - N.T. Wright
  • . . .people’s most fundamental allegiance is to the familiar - Robert Sapolsky
  • I am talking about something much deeper—namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. - Thomas Nagel
  • [Christians] share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred. To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. - Letter to Diognetus
  • Christ’s great commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world. . . .Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead. - Pastor Wang Yi

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