Happy Monday Everyone!
Last night was a blast! We started off by playing a short game and praying for our schools before we moved into our worship time.
The message, Justice VS. Mercy, was the fourth and final part of our “VS. The Battle is One” Series. We looked at two different sides of justice. The first side was standing up for others when they are being mistreated. The second was looking at how we handle things when we are being mistreated. The passage of Scripture we looked at was Mathew 5:38-48NIV,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This is probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest, principle to follow that Jesus taught. Verse 38 (eye for eye, and tooth for tooth) is referring to the law that was given to the judges in the Old Testament. That is how they judged and handed out punishments. The idea was not for people to carry out their own punishments. The rest of the passage is not telling us that we should be “doormats” and allow people to mistreat us. What it is telling us to to show love to others even when they mistreat us.
The hardest part of this concept is showing love to people when they really don’t deserve. The truth, though, is this— we didn’t deserve Christ to show us love as he hung on the cross for our sins. It’s easy to fall into the way of thinking that says, “If someone messes up or wrongs me bad enough, they don’t deserve to be forgiven”. As Jesus breathed his last few breaths on the cross, he used them to make this statement about those who had crucified him and contributed to his murder, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” That is POWERFUL. That is MERCY. That is the LOVE OF GOD.
The key thing is this. Showing mercy and the love of God to others who have wronged us does not mean that we are saying what they did was okay. It also does not mean that there shouldn’t be consequences that they need to face for their actions. The reason that we are called to love even our enemies is to show them the very same love of God that we have had the opportunity to experience. It’s really not about us at all— it’s about introducing even the worst of sinners to the life-changing power of God!
We closed out the night with a POWERFUL time of worship with everyone gathered up front. We had the incredible opportunity to see many of the youth surrender to God, some shed tears, and some even raised their hands in worship for the very first time. As the music played, the youth staff had the opportunity to pray with several of the youth. We truly have an incredible staff of volunteers that help make what we do possible. Make sure you tell Trevor, Jen, Brittany, Jesse, and Lydia how much you appreciate them the next time you see them!
Be Blessed and have a GREAT week!