This story is about Peacemakers & Escalation…Our hero of the faith was a rebellious, spoilt brat, who wanted his own way, in every single way. This was a man that was sleeping with prostitutes on his wedding night, because he got depressed, because his best man stole his wife.
From what started out as a joke no-one understood, a fascinating cycle of violence ensues, based on: because you did this, I now have a right to do that. I merely did to them, what they did to me. This way of living will always bring death.
Let me ask you a question, and be careful how quick you answer this inside. This is an internal question: If you could go to heaven without Jesus, is He still worth following? If heaven and hell wasn't the issue, is Jesus still worth following?
You can't go to heaven without Jesus, but I think it's very important for us to play with that thought for a second. If you could go to heaven without Jesus, is He still worth following?
If the answer to that is yes, then I would ask us why? If the answer to that is no, I would ask you, why are you using Him as a fire escape only?
And that would also tell me why our lives are not victorious, and it's because we've become a group of people who are all about getting to go to heaven one day, and we've lost sight of the fact that Jesus is actually worth following, even if there was no such thing as heaven, because His way is the best way for our life.
If, when we died, if we just died - Jesus is still the best way? He's still the best, and that comes down to faith. It comes down to trust. Do we really trust that His way is the best way for our life?
Do we really believe that mercy is better than justice? Really, like do we really believe that? It's easy to believe that with other people, but do we really believe that for ourself? Do we really believe that mercy triumphs over justice? Do we really believe these things?
I want to spend the rest of the night talking about one area, that takes a lot of faith for us to live, but as leaders in God's biggest idea, we should be living it, and that is this.
Jesus said it this way: Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are people who bring peace to situations, instead of retaliation.
We're all about retaliation, aren't we? It's the way of the world. It's been that way since Adam and Eve.
Adam named his wife Eve. God never named her “Eve” - Adam named her Eve.
The problem with that was it was Adams job to name the animals; so when Adam names Eve 'Eve', essentially he's calling her an animal. He's saying: you animal - look what you've done to us. It's retaliation. It's escalation.
How many of you have lived long enough to know that retaliation and escalation is the way of life? It just is. You married folks, have you ever got into an argument with your spouse about how to cut a tomato? It escalates into insults about the other person's mother. It's called...
[Pastor Mike] You're married aren't you?
[Shane Willard] Yeah. It's called escalation. It's just escalation. It escalates. Things escalate. I mean has anybody besides me ever gotten into a conflict, and when you walk away from the conflict, that's when you think of everything you could have said? Yeah. Do you let it go there, or do you have imaginary conversations? We love imaginary conversations, don't we? We love them.
Why do we love imaginary conversations so much? Because we never lose! If you're here tonight, and you're losing imaginary conversations, get your head checked - it's your imagination. You can win!
We love imaginary conversations, and there's so much teaching I could do around imaginations, but I don't want to go there tonight. I want to talk about being a peace maker - so we rationalise escalation.
We rationalise things that the Bible clearly says not to do - and it could be: yeah, but I had a bad day. Yeah, but I was stressed; yeah, but I had pressure; yeah, but they're weird. They're weird - which essentially all that's saying is: your way is better.
Like how many of you know some weird people? We all know weird people right? Let me let you in on something. They think you're weird. Weird is relative, but we're all ethnocentric.
People tell me, because I'm American, people tell me: oh you people from America, you think the whole world's like America. Well, that's kind of okay, I'll give you that, yeah. We probably do, but so do you. You think the whole world's like South Africa, you think the whole world's like New Zealand.