In “Tough Passages,” we’re looking at the difficult verses in the Bible that are often brought up by secular people as reasons the Bible doesn’t make sense, and discovering how they actually reveal the character, love, and glory of God in a beautiful way.
Yesterday, we investigated a particular passage from Matthew 5 about what you should do when you’re treated poorly. But that article isn’t the only resource that’s come out recently about that topic. Two weeks ago, Lee Hinkle (whom you may remember from last year’s Lenten Devotional) preached a sermon at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis which asks, what if Christians were defined more by what they’re for than by what they’re against? Take a listen!
No Offense. None Taken.
A Narrative of Opposition
“You know what is the scariest thing is to not know what is your place in the world.”
“Now that we know who you are, I know who I am.”
Are you defined by what you’re against – by your opposite? Or by what you’re for?
We’re not designed for opposition, but for whole relationships with Him, others, and place. There is a brokennness that has set us against one another – but God moves us to a place of “for,” to a place of wholeness!
Being Characterized by “Against-ness”
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
-(Romans 8:31-33, ESV)
- Hurt, rejection, the unknown
- Passive “againstness”
- Moves away from others
- “Not worth it”
- “Why would I give my heart to something that could break it?”
- Because of an offense or difference/misunderstanding in values
- Opposition to dialogue: “If you don’t believe what I believe, I don’t want to hear it”
- Active againstness; Moves toward againstness
- “You’re not worthy of relationship,” “I have every right”
- Complete againstness and selfishness
- “You’re not worthy of recognition”
- Lack of acknowledgement; no movement at all.
The impression we give: “Christians are against more things than they’re for.” “Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other.”
📌 – But God ordained us to be for one another and for relationship. We must be found! We must be known by the God who made us.
📌 – God is not inviting you to anger and hatred. He’s inviting you to wholeness; our desire for it comes from Him and His relentless pursuit of redemption (Rom 8:31-34)
As we join in relationship with God, we can’t help moving into “forness.” When we’re converted to the Lord, we’re converted to our neighbor.
What the Fruits of “For-ness” look like
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. -(Colossians 3:12-15, ESV)
We’ve been placed by God in Christ. “Because you’re in Christ, the fruit of your devotion will look like this.”
Our posture must be for: God has made us for Himself, so we must be for others.
First: Understanding our relationships with God and with others completely.
Then it moves outward: Forness…
- Seeks opportunity, not offense.
- Opportunity to serve, meet, wait, discover
- Not waiting to see what is wrong
- Not entitled (because then I can’t find offense)
- Seeks forgiveness, not accusation.
- We aren’t entitled to accusation
- God convicts in a much kinder way.
- He seeks mercy, not justice.
- Grace is more powerful; redemption is more beautiful.
- Like Christ forgave us
- while we were still enemies
- in the kingdom of darkness
- while we were orphans
- while we were lied to
- God’s mercy is toward you, so we should have it toward others.
- This is impossible to do on our own.
- Seeks repentance before justification.
- In most of our disagreements, there is a place for us to repent. There is a mutuality to our breakdown of harmony.
- There are hurts that come unbidden – and there you do not need to repent. But you are challenged to forgive.
Forness is more than hospitality. But it is no less.
It is outwardly-focused and inwardly-secure in who God made us to be.
It is community, not individual. It is care, not dominion. It is action, not apathy. It is collaboration, not competition. It is for, not against.
📌 – God has pursued you so that you can be whole, move out, and be for others.
⭐ – It is tempting to run from “for” to “against” during transition. But be for one another. Do not turn inward; you have a pattern of forness! Pursue relentlessly even as people push away.
“Be for one another; continue to walk in this place knowing that God is for you.”