January 19, 2020
Pastor Ricky Smith
Has there ever been a situation in your life where you feel like you “got took”? I know that’s not correct grammar, but you got hoodwinked. The bait-and-switch move happen. “Gotcha” happened. It may have been when you were trying to buy something from somebody, and it ended up being a lemon. It was like, “Gotcha!”
Or, I’ll tell you where it probably happens more frequently. It’s when you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, and you run across what is affectionately known as “clickbait.” It’s that graphic with that headline that says, “Imagine…” and you think, I wonder what this is, and you’re just drawn in. You click it, and then it’s another click, and then you’re sucked into the wormhole, so to speak, of this clickbait. You feel like a sucker after the fact.
Let me give you some examples. I’m going to save you some time. I’ll throw some images on the screen. The bottom will be the headline. The top will be the “sucker” statement. Okay, so here’s the first one [image shown]: It says, “This guy tried to refrigerate his drink with an air conditioner, and this is what happened…” It got colder; that’s what happened. I can save you the click. I can save you the wormhole. It just cooled down a little bit.
Here’s another one: “An elephant that spent 11 hours digging the hole finally pulls out something nobody expected…” It was just it’s calf. That’s what it pulled out of the hole. Why do I chase the wormhole? What’s the use?
On the next one, someone is typing, and there are those bubbles. It asks, “What does that actually mean?” It actually means that someone is typing a message. That’s what it means. Save yourself the worry. If you see these, don’t click on them. It’s clickbait. It’s drawing you into something.
We have one more: “This is the single easiest way to be happier at work…” Get outside; get some fresh air occasionally. That just works wonders. It saves you nine clicks. You don’t have to worry about it. Don’t waste your time.
Why did I even say that? Here’s the story that sets up what we’re going to look at in Scripture today. So often, we fall into the trap of what we’ve seen, and we’re lured into something. We find ourselves navigating clicks, hearing part of a conversation, or getting swept up into a crisis that we had no business even being a part of. And when we walk through this passage today, there is a story that we’re going to see unfolding before our eyes and some principles that we can learn from it.
I promise you, if you’ll listen and lean into what God says in His Word today, it will help you in your marriage, in your parenting, and in your job, whether you are the boss or an employee. It will help you in your relationships on your team. It will help you be a better follower of Jesus.
We’re looking in Acts chapter 21, and we’re going to begin reading in verse 27. If you haven’t been with us, we’re just going verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter through the book of Acts. We’ll try to draw back onto some things that we’ve learned in the past.
I. Be careful, little eyes, what you see
So, here’s the first thing for you to write down: Be careful, little eyes, what you see. Do you remember that song from when you were a kid? Let’s read verses 27-29.
27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
Question: Have you ever seen something or made an observation that just made your blood boil? I mean, as soon as you saw it, you could feel your blood pressure rise. Maybe it was a breaking news feed that scrolled as an alert or through your social media feed. Maybe you were sitting on the bleachers watching your child or grandchild play soccer or baseball, and it’s the scuttlebutt in the bleachers that you hear somebody else talking about. -something that somebody else does. And you don’t even know who that person is, but you hear about it, and then you start to get mad. Now you’re engaging in this conflict, and you don’t even know the people!
Okay, I’m sure none of you has ever done that, but I’ve heard that happens from time to time, right? We just allow ourselves to hear something, and we react to what we see or hear, and that’s what’s happening in this text today. Let me paint the picture to describe what’s going on.
Last week, we looked in the verses previously in chapter 21, and we see that Paul had come to Jerusalem after this multi-year excursion. He had been working in the churches in the area known as Asia at that time. He had come back to James and the elders. He had given a report and had even given an offering. Their response was one of grace and a greeting, and they glorified and worshipped God.
Then, they gave this warning to say, “Hey, there are some people around Jerusalem who aren’t really happy with what they are hearing and saying about you. So, you might want to go through a purification process, to go through the Temple, just so you can let them see that you’re acknowledging the culture that you’re in.”
So Paul says, “Sure.” And we even looked last week at this principle of his ministry, where he said, “To a Jew, I became a Jew, and to a Gentile, I became a Gentile. [Why?], so that I could win them for the Gospel.” Paul has been walking through this purification process. The seven days are almost over where he’s been going through this journey. The purification process was going through, and he’s spotted by some Jews from Asia, specifically in Ephesus.
If you want to go back and listen to the sermon on Acts 19 or flip back on your own, here’s what you’ll learn: When Paul got to Ephesus (we read this in the first nine verses of Acts 19), when he got to Ephesus, he begins to minister and build relationships with the people. He spent three months teaching in the synagogue, but there were certain Jews in the synagogue who refused to believe and began to spread vicious rumors about him, so much to the point that he wasn’t able to teach in the synagogue anymore. He had to go rent out a community hall and begin to disciple people there for the next three years.
Why is that important? We see that these same folks had followed him all the way to Jerusalem. It may very well be that this was the time of Pentecost, and they were coming on this pilgrimage journey there to celebrate Pentecost. I think (the text doesn’t say this specifically), but it’s very safe to assume that Paul knew these guys by face, by name, and certainly by reputation, because they have been wreaking havoc, trying to undercut his ministry and his reputation by stirring up rumors for years now. And here they are again.
As a little cultural history, it was not uncommon for those Jews who had led Jerusalem out of exile and had established their homeland in other parts of the world to be very strict in their adherence to Jewish customs. You’ve got to think about it. They were taken away from the sights, sounds and smells of their homeland, and the only way they could recreate that was the strict adherence to the rules. And it gave them, I’m sure, some sense of security. But by default, they were quick to react to anything that may be a threat to that. I’m not trying to defend these Asian Jews. I’m just maybe trying to understand a little bit more about their perspective.
And so, we’re jumping into this story after Paul is doing his best to make peace with people. He’s doing his best to follow tradition and go through the system. But here, you could read into the tone of these Jews from Ephesus. They are like, “We have finally trapped the monster. We’ve got him in our teeth. He can’t get out of here now!” -because the accusations that they brought against him in verse 28 of chapter 21 are synonymous with the accusations brought against Steven in Acts chapter six, which resulted in his death.
When you accuse someone in this custom of violating the unity of people and defiling the holy place of the Temple, you would be killed for that. The word defiled that you see there in verse 29 literally could be translated to make it common. It’s as if they are accusing him of taking this culture, this place that is set apart as holy, and just making it commonplace.
But notice the extreme of their story. You see in verse 27, they don’t just make an accusation about what they perceived to have happened in that moment. They make this huge quantum leap that says, “Everybody everywhere, Paul is doing this to,” and that’s just not true.
But I’m sure that you have also heard people making accusations that make these huge, hyperbolic statements, or these quantum leaps. They claimed that he’d been teaching against people, against the law, and in this place. Notice in verse 29, the language. They said they had previously seen him with Trophimus the Ephesians in the city, so they supposed that he also went with him into the Temple.
They didn’t even observe this thing. They made this huge assumption that they fabricated. They connected some dots in their own minds, and they reacted. Here’s the warning flag, the first warning flag I’ll throw up. If we’re in soccer, this is the yellow card. It’s not going to get us kicked out yet, but this is just the warning.
So many times, we’re quick to react rather than respond, and there’s a big difference. Reaction generally happens immediately, but only what we’ve seen or heard. Responding will tap the brakes, slow down, and gather more intel, so that I can make sure I’m responding accurately. This is a reminder for us of spiritual warfare.
See, the enemy loves to lure us into this clickbait. As soon as we see something that someone else does, we react, and we attack them. He loves to see that. And all of a sudden, we’re pointing fingers. We’re criticizing one another, and I’m not intending to step on toes here; I’m just trying to help you, if I may.
Maybe this looks like this in your home between spouses, a husband and wife. And maybe you’re so busy, you haven’t had a chance to really sit and digest and talk through things. You’re just observing what your spouse is doing or not doing, and you’re jumping to a conclusion. All of a sudden, there’s friction, and you’re pointing the finger. “You don’t love me anymore,” or, “If you cared about me, you would do this.”
Nobody’s ever done that, right? We see something or hear something, and we just react to it. All of a sudden, these people we love, we treat them as if they’re the enemy. Well, here’s a statement worth writing down: I have an enemy, and it’s not you.
I have an Enemy, and it is not you!
I’ve got an enemy, and it’s not my wife. I’ve got an enemy, and it’s not my children. It’s not my teammates. It’s not my neighbors. It’s not my LifeGroup members. It’s not my church family. I have an enemy, and his name is Satan. He is roaming to and fro, seeking whom he may devour. We have a common enemy. We need to beware and be guarded of our tendency to react, to jump to conclusions where we quickly might consider each other the enemy. That’s not the way God intended us to be.
II. Be on guard when the mob screams
Let’s look at the story and see what happens next, because it just gets worse. Here’s the second point: Be on guard when the mob begins to scream. Let’s read verses 30 and 31 to see what happens in our story.
30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion.
Now, let me help us understand something. I’m amazed when I read encounters in the New Testament at how fast the news tends to spread. I mean, this escalated quickly. It went from a couple of guys making accusations, screaming really loudly, to a mob uproar. Zero to sixty in 2.6 seconds. Rapid. And this was before, telephones, social media, and electronic communication.
How did this happen? I think probably in this situation, if we really want to know, there were so many people that were gathered together and a heavy concentration of people around the time of Pentecost, that of course it was more heavily populated, close quarters. So, the news could have spread more quickly.
But what did they do? They dragged him out of the Temple and shut the doors. Let me explain to you what’s happening, because this will make even more sense in a minute. If you want to, you can study later the layout of the Temple of that day. We’re not going to take the time. I don’t have graphics to show you. It’s just important for us to understand what’s happening here, for us to recognize that the open area of the Temple was divided up into sections.
There were some places where only the priest could go. There were some places where only the Jews could go. And there was this wall that was The Wall of Gentiles. There was an outer court where a Gentile could be in the walls of the building but couldn’t be inside the place of worship. And so, they were allowed to be in, but they had to keep a distance.
We could talk more about why that was, but it helps us understand here what happened in this moment that Paul was in the place of worship. They pulled him outside and shut the door. And it makes it sound as though they put him in, contained into this court of the Gentiles area. I’ll suggest further proof of that in just a minute. The Levites, the guys who oversaw the Temple, had something almost like their own police force of the day.
But here’s why I tell you all that story. Why does that even matter? Who cares? Well, here’s what we need to understand: The Ephesian Jews come. They stir up the scuttlebutt, and a mob ensues. What we need to recognize from this moment is, the riot within the people of God did nothing to expand the Kingdom of God. The mob mentality and the riot within the people of God did nothing to expand the Kingdom of God.
In fact, if anything, it just makes it worse. Here’s what we need to understand: I wonder how the world views Jesus’s church when we slander one another, when we condemn one another, and we fall into the mob conversation. I don’t just mean Calvary; I’m talking about broadly. When the world sees the church fighting rather than living in peace together, does that do anything to expand the Kingdom of God? And my, how news can travel fast!
Now we have electronic communication, and just as a heads up, if a conversation ever begins with these words, be forewarned: Did you hear? If it starts that way, just throw the antenna up, throw the filter up high. It may be that what’s coming up next could be a little slanderous.
Case in point. I don’t know if you’ve seen the online criticism about Chick-fil-a lately or the online criticism about Kanye West lately. You see how quick we just jump to stuff? And we use anything as an excuse to fight, argue, and bicker in a public forum where the world can see. And why? Why do I want to have any part of that? We just need to be aware. It’s dangerous, and here’s what I want us to understand: God warns us against slander. Let me read a couple of verses. 1 Peter 2:1 says this:
1 Peter 2:1
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
Put it away. Separate yourself from it. God warns us against gossip. Ephesians 4:29 says:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
I don’t know how your mom and dad brought you up, but I remember hearing my mom say a lot growing up, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Oh, you heard that, too! And time out; in case some of you have heard something this week and are asking, “What’s he ranting about?”, I write these sermons four or five weeks ahead of time, okay? So, what I’m giving you today is what the Lord gave me over a month ago. It has nothing do with anything specific. So if you’re looking at your wife like, “Did you tell him about ____?”, I have no idea. We’re just letting the text speaks for itself. You just see where it lands.
So here we go. But here’s what I need you to understand: Gossip is a cancer to unity. When we begin to slander one another and spread gossip and rumors about one another, when we begin to believe those and step into that and react to those, it starts to erode and eat and infect and destroy unity. It’s a cancer that we need to be aware of.
Gossip is a cancer to our unity
III. Be ready to step in and act
So, what do we do? Well, it gets better; I promise. Let’s read on. Here’s the third point I want you to write down today: Be ready to step in and act, because we need to be engaged. We’re going to see how God uses a character in this story, and I think there are some principles that we can learn from this person. He happens to be a Roman pagan. Let’s see what we can learn in verses 32-36.
32 He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, 36 for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!”
Now, there is a lot we can learn about this tribune. We’ll see that he’s going to keep coming up for several chapters through our journey. We learn in Acts chapter 23, his name is Claudius Lysias. But let’s understand a little bit about who this character is and why he’s in the scene.
You’ve got to remember that Rome has ruling authority over Jerusalem at this time. And so, the tribune was basically the second in charge. When the officials were gone away to Rome or conducting business, his main objective was to do two things: protect and keep the peace. It was his job. And he had about 1,000 soldiers under his care. Protect and keep the peace. He’s quick to respond, and clearly he takes his job very seriously.
I think it’s important, and this is why I laid out the architecture of the Temple a minute ago. The former palace of Herod was attached to the Temple, and this was now the place where the Roman officials oversaw things. There was a staircase that came out of that, directly into the court of the Gentiles in the Temple. So that explains to us how they were able to get there quickly.
I think it’s also interesting that they strategically chose that location because they probably knew all these faith-minded people would be the ones fighting all the time, and they may need to quickly respond. So here, they run down the steps. They are quickly engaged. And I want us to notice something. I told you to put a pin in the fact in verse 34 that he is bound with two chains because that is a prophecy that is fulfilled that was said all the way back in chapter 21, verse 11.
If you remember, when he was making his way to Jerusalem, Agabus came and prophesied over him and said that both arms would be bound. So, this is a fulfillment of that. That prophecy came true, and we see it here. It’s just something for us to see. -this woven thread of the Holy Spirit moving and speaking and preparing in this big story.
This confusion breaks out, and here’s where I want to draw our attention and land the plane today. We can learn a lot from this Roman tribune. He took his job seriously to protect the people and to keep the peace. It is a reminder for us in situations that life inevitably brings our way, that we are called to react and respond differently. In fact, I would go so far as to say we need to be aware of and sensitive to how we engage or debate and the words that we use.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be engaged. I’m saying we should be distinctively Christian in our engagement. This fleshes it out in lots of ways. Sometimes, it’s really simple. Sometimes it is the attitude and how I react when I’m in the line at Wal-Mart and I see the 30 lines that are not opening, and I’m in the only one that is open, and the line goes all the way back to the milk. How do I act in that moment? What testimony am I giving? How do I react and respond with grace and peace when I’m visiting the DMV? How, in those moments, am I Christian? We are called to respond differently.
We are called to react and respond differently
What does Jesus say in John 13? “All men will know that you are my disciples by the love that you have for one another.” So, we need to recognize that how we react and how we respond to situations matters. It makes a difference. And so, I would just encourage you to get in the habit of asking this question. It is a filtering question, really. When you’re in a situation or maybe even before you get into the situation, begin to filter and ask, “Okay, how should I be distinctively Christian in this thing? How can I exhibit the love and character of God and the fruit of the Spirit in this situation?”
It’s really helpful because we are called to live differently. In fact, let me point you to three things (and this is not an exhaustive list). These are three things in the way in which we are called to live.
1. We are called to keep peace
The first one is, we are called to keep peace. We see this in Matthew chapter five, verse nine.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
2. We are called to unity
The second one is, we are called to unity. We see this in Romans 12:16 and 18.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
You know, the Greek interpretation of all means all people.
3. We are called to listen to the Holy Spirit and not the winds of change
The third thing is, we are called to listen to the Holy Spirit and not the winds of change. Galatians 5: 25-26 says this:
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
God has called us to cultivate peace
This mindset and the language here of keeping in step with the Spirit is the literal example of a drill sergeant calling cadence and this rhythm of steps moving in unison. The beauty of that imagery that many of us get and understand is that when one person falls in cadence, then everybody falls in cadence. It’s the beauty of God’s people moving in rhythm together when we’re listening to the same voice. It draws in unity; it draws in fellowship. But it causes us to resist the temptation to get swept into whatever may be the upcoming trend, whatever is the radical new idea.
It may be a new trend, and it may be an idea worth considering, but we need to pause, tap the brakes, and ask the Holy Spirit, “Is this what we should do in our life, in our homes, in our marriage, in our church?” -because we need to follow the leadership and the cadence of God in our lives, not culture.
Okay, let’s get really practical, if I can. I’m going to commend a book to you. This is not a church book. This is just a leadership book, but I would encourage you to read it. It’s Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High. It’s a great book. There are some principles in this book that will help you in your marriage or in your job. If you are an owner or a boss, this will help you lead your team better. If you are middle management or a worker bee, this will help you be a better teammate. If you are in the church (which you are), it will help you be a better church member.
And let me show you an illustration to unpack all of these things we’ve seen today, and we’ll point back to how this fleshed out in Acts chapter 21. I’m going to show a graphic [image shown]. Exercise some self control. Don’t look at all of it yet. I want you to pay attention to the grey arrow on the far left, and put yourself there. Watch what happens. This is beautifully illustrated in the book. I’m not smart enough to communicate this way.
But, here’s what happens: I see something or I hear something, and based upon what I have seen and heard, I fill in the blanks and tell myself a story. There’s no way it’s all the information, but based upon the sliver that I have, I tell myself a story. And then, based upon that story, an emotion begins to swell in me (it could be positive or negative). And then, based upon what I feel, I act.
Let’s put some situations in our life in this grid to flesh it out. Let’s start on the negative. Let’s say you’re at work. You’re at your desk. You’ve gotten there early. You’ve even made the coffee for everybody. You’re thinking, I’m going to really serve people well today. So you’re at work, doing your thing at your desk, and your boss walks by and doesn’t even make eye contact with you. He or she goes in the office and slams the door shut.
Okay, you’ve seen something, and you’ve heard something. No words were spoken. You just observed something, and you tell yourself a story, because most everybody is naturally insecure. We may start to have thoughts going through our minds. They saw how much I was on Facebook at work yesterday, and I’m about to get fired… We fill in the blanks, right? We tell ourselves a story, and we internalize it. We bring it all upon ourselves. They heard. They caught me. I’m in trouble, or they’re mad at me. This is going to be an awful day… Has anybody ever done that before? We do this all the time.
I tell myself a story. I develop a feeling (maybe it’s fear, anxiety, uncertainty, whatever the feeling may be), and here’s the action: Later, I’ve got to go to that coffee pot that I made, and I’ve got to walk past his or her office. I’m not even going to make eye contact now. And now that person sees something and hears something. Wow! He sure is rude today. He didn’t even acknowledge I’m here. This happens time and time again, hundreds of times a day. And for us to move from seeing and hearing something to action is 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds. Zip! And we’re there.
Maybe you were on the bleachers at the baseball game watching the children play, and you heard the conversation next to you. Let’s say it’s Fred. They are talking about Fred, and the things they are saying about Fred is making my blood boil. Well, I’ve seen something and I’ve heard something, and I haven’t had any conversation with Fred.
But, it’s the next day, and I’m walking through Publix and I’m on aisle three and I look on the other end, and it’s Fred. You know what I do? I say to myself, “You know, I don’t think I need anything on aisle three.” I’m going to go to aisle four, and I’m going to avoid Fred, and I’ve not even talk to Fred! I just heard something about Fred that may or may not even be true. And now I’ve developed a feeling. I’ve developed an emotion, and now I’m acting negatively toward Fred. Poor Fred.
I’m going to speak very broadly and let you fill in the blanks, but maybe it’s at home, and you didn’t do something right or you didn’t put something away, or you responded with (Guys, we’re bad about this) one-word answers instead of stories. And then the reaction may be something like, “Are you mad at me? Did I do something?” You’re smart enough to contextualize this into your life to see how this happens over and over. Sometimes it is in very small things. Sometimes it is very big things.
Here’s what you need to understand: God has called us in our homes, in our marriages, in our parenting, in the workplaces, in the marketplace, at the ball field, and in the church. He has called us to cultivate peace. He has called us to cultivate peace, and cultivate is a verb. It requires us sometimes to turn that over, to flip that story over.
Let’s go back to the graphic. For me to reprocess this and cultivate peace, it means I’ve got to go to Fred and say, “Hey Fred, this is what I saw and heard. Is that true? I need you to give me more information, because I’ve got to retell myself a story to develop a different emotion and a different action.” And do you know what that requires us to do in love and in grace and in a spirit of peace? It requires us to sit down, eye-to-eye and talk about it.
The Word of God even illustrates this for us in Matthew chapter 18, verses 15-20. And it is this expectation: Hey, if you’ve got something with the brother, here is what the Scripture doesn’t say: “If you have something with your brother, post it on social media for the world to see.” It doesn’t say, “If you have an issue with your brother, tell all of your friends about it, and burn the cell phone towers down with information.” It doesn’t say that if you have something with your brother, send a mass text and say, “Repeat and send this to other people.” It doesn’t say that.
What does it tell us in Matthew chapter 18, verse 15? If you have an issue with your brother, you go to him in private, one-on-one, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, and you work it out. Why? -because we’re called to cultivate peace, and 99.99999% of the time, when we hear and we cultivate the rest of the story, we begin to gain understanding. Let’s go back to the situation, if we can, from the text. How does this play out here?
The Jews from Ephesus say (and it says this in verses 27, 28, and 29), “We saw him with this Gentile. We saw him going to the Temple, so they had to have gone together.” I saw something. I told myself a story. I had a feeling, and now we react. “Oh, everybody everywhere, he is just turning over the world. This pagan is defiling the Temple!” And a mob ensues.
Now, in the grand scheme and story, God uses this for Paul, as we’ll see in a couple of weeks, because he has a mission for Paul. God even uses these circumstances. There’s hope even when we find ourselves in this situation, but let’s take the example. Let’s go back to the example of your boss.
What if you’re sitting there working. You’ve made the coffee. He walks by and slams the door as he goes in the office. Rather than avoiding him, the response of care and peace would have been, “Hey, we didn’t get a chance to speak today. Is everything okay?” What if the relationship and that conversation began to open up?
He might say, “My wife and I got in an argument today,” or “I’ve got a friend who is sick and dying in the hospital.” He may unpack something personal, and you realize, “Oh, that’s why you seem disconnected. It’s not about me. It’s because you’ve got something going on in your life that I can help you through.” Now that I have a different story, the feeling and the action is very different because we’re cultivating and working toward peace.
Now listen, I know my story, and I know the normal patterns and tendencies of life, so I could assume that some of the examples I’ve given today, you’ve lived out. But I know that this cycle happens in our lives all the time, multiple times a day. And my prayer is that we would all recognize how God has called us to live. He has called us to peace. He has called us to unity. He has called us to fight the real enemy, and it’s not one another. Your husband is not your enemy. Your children are not your enemy. Your boss or your employees or your teammates are not your enemies. We are called to love and show grace and peace and point them to Jesus by being the hands and feet of Jesus to them every day.
- I choose to begin my faith journey with Jesus.
- I commit to fight the real Enemy.
- I claim peace in my relationships.
Use the following questions to go deeper into what you learned today with family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors this week.
- We are we so quick to spread the news of what we have seen or heard? How does it feel when you are able to be the one to “break the news”? How does it feel when you are the one that the news is about? Read Ephesians 4:29 and discuss the impact of gossip on community.
- We are called to react and respond differently. Read Romans 12:16-18 and discuss how a commitment to unity and peace can impact how we react to things we see and hear.
- Matthew 18:15-20 prescribes a process for appropriately dealing with matters when we are offended or see someone living in sin. Why is it important to begin this conflict in a private and personal manner? How can this promote unity and peace?
Family Worship is a great time to jump into next week’s sermon. Use these questions as a guide.
- What is your favorite story to read, and who is the main character in that story? Why did you choose that story?
- Read Acts 22:6-15 together. This describes the story of Paul being met by Jesus and the start of his journey with Him.
- Paul wants to make sure that people recognize that Jesus is the main person in his story. How can we share Jesus with others in such a way that they recognize He is the most important person in our life?