Chris preached on the topic of hospitality during this week’s message, focusing on Romans 12:9-21. He mentioned that hospitality involves an “us forthem” mentality. This opposes an “us vs.them” mentality, which is often portrayed on the news and through various social media outlets. Throughout history, Christianity has been expressed through cultures, or flavors, as Chris explained with an example of different ice cream flavors. Whenever there are differences among us, we tend to form tribes; a concept better known as tribalism. This is the quintessential picture of the “us vs. them” mentality. As a society, we tend to look at whatever divides us and we group people accordingly. One of the many beautiful works of the resurrection is that it created a new humanity; effectively eliminating the “us vs. them” mentality and replacing it with an “us for them” mentality. Chris also explained that the Greek word for hospitality is “philoxenia” which, translated to English, means love for strangers, others, or foreigners. In conclusion, he mentioned that every little thing that we do (smiling, conversations in our daily lives, the way we express ourselves at work, the way we react to difficult situations, etc.) has the potential to be a move or work of God. This helps to shift us from an “us vs. them” mindset to an “us for them” mindset, which has a direct reflection on how the kingdom of God should be represented and reflected on earth.
Roy talked to us about the Cross. As he said it wasn’t an eloquent message or one of great detail, but a simple reminder that Jesus paid for our sins. Acknowledging that simple truth is good enough; even when we don’t find ourselves “feeling it.” Roy started by taking a look at what we have discovered about the world. We find that there are rules or laws governing different aspects of our universe all around us. One such rule is the law of gravity. Roy linked this to the idea that there are also spiritual laws. One such law is that sin needed to be paid for. We see this all throughout the Bible. The Lamb of God, as Jesus is often referred to, is a reference to the sacrifices made for sin by the shedding of the blood of a lamb as commanded in the law. In Romans, Paul states that the law can’t save us it can only point to our falling short of those ideals in the law. How then does God save us? Jesus steps in our place and takes on our penalty or our debt through the work of the cross. This not only wipes away our debt but also gives us a new nature.
Jon spoke on the story of Lazarus’ resurrection. When Jesus heard Lazarus was dying, he waited to travel to him, despite the fact that Mary and Martha loved him greatly. Jesus had a reason for this and knew that there was greater glory for God in Lazarus’ resurrection rather than in his healing. Jon pointed out that even though we may feel that God is not acting when we ask for healing or guidance, He isdoing something \greater than what we had planned.
Mary felt like Jesus wasn’t present when her brother was sick. Jesus told her that Lazarus will live again, but Mary believed he was giving the standard comforting saying Jews said when someone died. So, she gives the proper response that she knows Lazarus will rise on the last day during the resurrection. Jesus then reveals that He is the resurrection and the life. He has come not just to save Israel and the world, but to remake it and give it new life.
Jon then talked about the four “RE’s”.
These are the things Jesus did for us at His resurrection. To “Deem” means to claim or purchase. Jesus “deemed” us by the purchase of his death. “Conciled” is to be one with. Jesus made us one with God when we were once separated. Something that is “Stored” has value, we were restored and given back our value from our sin. “Surrection” means to rise up. At Jesus’ resurrection He rose again to be with God and in doing so He brought us with Him.
Jon concluded his message with the point that if Jesus just died on the cross, that might have been enough to pay for our sins but we would not have changed. It was only by rising up from the grave did Jesus prove he could give us new life.
Chris opened his message by referencing Luke 4:16-30. In this verse, he mentioned that the context serves as a manifesto for God’s kingdom. He also tied in his message from the last time he spoke, explaining the hospitality message found in Romans where philoxenia equates to phileo (love) plus xenas (xenas, stranger, other). An example of this was seen recently when Chris was sitting on a bench reading a book. He met a woman who described a situation with police cars with American flags on them and how it was dividing their community. He then explained how our society tends to take small things and turn them into big divisive issues. We have a tendency to align ourselves with those who agree with us, and separate ourselves from those who disagree with us. Put in Chris’ words:
“It’s easy to love the “me’s”, it’s harder to love the “thems”.
Chris also mentioned that unity (the oneness that we have an innate desire to seek) isn’t about agreeing on everything, it’s more about agreeing on the source of one’s heart posture. He concluded his message with his thoughts on offense, stating that oftentimes when we are offended, it’s typically because we have an ‘us vs them’ mentality as opposed to an ‘us for them’ mentality.