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Whether you’re starting a family, raising a family, or wondering if family’s worth the effort, this series will provide direction and hope by showing how the way of Jesus informs how we relate to each other.


we're in a series on relationships family matters is a part four of four parts and we're talking about the gap between what's real and what's ideal the ideals that Jesus describes to us and as I've been pondering this day Memorial Day weekend and really thinking about how men and women over the years of our nation have been fighting to close this gap between an ideal that this nation was founded on that all are created equal and and many have given their lives for it even as I was thinking about the Civil War is over over 600,000 men and women gave their lives fighting for something that they believed in and Abraham Lincoln said this in his second inaugural address it was half way in into the Civil War he writes the he said these words with malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations as we come today to the relational ideal I want to talk about it's very much relates to this day and and what I think is still required of us to fight for in our relationships and that is keeping the door open to reconciliation reconciliation with people that have heard us reconciliation with people who disagree with us reconciliation with people who don't look like us and and and I want you to think about relationships in your life that are broken not just the ones on Facebook because those are the easy ones those are not those are not real relationships everybody you know that but relationships that actually matter to you in a deep way that have somehow been lost or maybe they're even relationships that you have with political figures that they don't know you but you know them and you don't like them think about relationships that cause you stress and anxiety when you hear their names or when you think about what they've done or haven't done and and here's the worst thing that we can say about those relationships I don't care I don't care what they think it doesn't bother me at all and yet when you get going on it that's all you can talk about I went to counseling to process the grief of my son and I end up talking about my dad nine out of ten times its I got daddy issues that was you didn't really laugh before it's like it's a real thing right we have issues that that that were that we're trying to resolve that we're trying to work out and I'm so thankful in my case with my father that he's he initiated conversation with me about how to how to resolve the tension that exists and we all have tension right think about it maybe there are there's a parent that you don't want to talk to maybe there's a kid that's chosen a way of life that you disagree with maybe there's an Astra friend a longtime friend that's now is strange maybe there's people in your life that you just don't get along with broken relationships maybe there's somebody that's not even alive anymore and yet every time you think about them it causes anxiety and the worst thing we can say about those relationships is I don't care because we were made to care we were created to care and no matter how big the hurt is no matter how long it's lasted it's like a bungee cords attached to our belt loop and maybe you're like it doesn't bother me anymore and you're in your 20s and 30s man no big deal but then let me tell you when you get to your mid-40s it starts bothering you and it's just this like attaches you're attached to this idea and I know reconciliation is a painful topic and it's an ideal right and we're living in this tension of what's real versus what's ideal but I want to lean into this idea of reconciliation there it's it's it's it can be a painful topic because what I'm not going to do is I'm not gonna ask you and I don't think the Bible asks you to break down healthy boundaries that you've set up to to protect you from abusive relationships that's not what reconciliation is but I am going to ask all of us to allow God access to those places of pain that we feel justified in building walls up and and and allow him to begin to work something else in you as as he's worked in me let me tell you a story first of reconciliation my wife and I Suzanne I've been married for 25 years and but before we got me thank you yeah it's awesome just just last week matter of fact 25 years just last week anyway when we were dating we were about a year into our into our dating life and we were down in college in Southern California we decided to we had heard that because I have a brother-in-law that fishes up in Alaska and we had heard that working in the cannery during the summer is profitable and so we went with her brother and drove the days how many days I don't know three or four day trip up to Alaska to Homer Alaska to go fishing and come to find out when we got there that there was an oil spill off the coast and there were no fish we drove the entire way to Alaska to work and there was no work to be had compiled that with her brother and I found out on this trip that we didn't like each other true story we didn't get along we don't think in comment this is not a good not good and then add to that this horrible horrible fact that Suzanne knew something was wrong like deeper then there's no fishing and that I didn't like her brother there was something even deeper than that going on inside of me and she as you women do poked around way too much she's like what's wrong Steven want nothing just nothing and no she just won't let she won't let it go and so I finally said what I should have never said but it was the truth at that moment Suzanne I still have feelings for my old girlfriend don't hate me don't hate me oh you guys we're in Alaska a small little Honda and we've got to drive all the way back she called her dad crying you know it's bad when you're with your girlfriend and she calls you well former girlfriend pretty quickly after I told her that and I don't know what her problem was I mean I was just I was just having feelings it wasn't like I want to go back to her it was so okay oh here's a here's a kind of funny now part of the story is that so we broke up in Alaska we have to drive all the way back to LA and now on the entire trip back guess who's best friends her brother and me I'm serious it was like we were like having the blast and laughing and Suzanne was so mad oh my goodness it took her a really really long time to even consider the possibility of reconciliation with this jerk of a guy named Steve she it was it was it was tough but I can tell you I'm so happy that she kept open the possibility of reconciliation because I'm I'm certain that if she hadn't I would be single living down by the river in a trailer like both said her husband would be I've know for sure that I would not be married today and I I think about that obviously reconciliation doesn't always look like that and I'm not even gonna preach that I'm not gonna preach that every relationship that's broken needs to be back to what it was not at all not at all but what I do know is I've watched my wife interact with me and as I've thought about my relationship with Jesus is that he wants us to keep our hearts open to the possibility of reconciliation with people in our lives with people that we've hurt people that have hurt us and and the reason I know that it comes from second Corinthians chapter five if you have a Bible why don't you turn there and and we're gonna dive into this topic this ideal and the tension we're just gonna go ahead and live with the tension and be okay with it for a little bit and allow God to speak to our hearts and those of you that are not Christ's followers this is really this is a good day for you to be here because you kind of get a free pass I think what I'm gonna share with you is really good for anybody but the reason I I believe that we are required to be people of reconciliation is because of what Jesus is done and and so this is why I believe we are as you'll see in just a moment constrained so to speak so let's dive in second Corinthians chapter 5 verse 14 Paul writes oh by the way Paul wrote a lot of the New Testament and he takes the teachings of Jesus and I said this a few weeks back he takes the teachings of Jesus which the primary one is love each other as I have loved you he takes that teaching and applies it to our relationships with God and with each other love each other as you've been loved by me that's what Jesus says that is the basis of Christianity is to love like he loved us and so out of that he writes these words for the love of Christ controls us a control well we don't like that word anybody get nervous already nobody controls me I'm my own man I can do what I want the love of Christ the original language there is constrains us it limits our options it doesn't give us many choices and so you're like oh you there aren't Christians right now you're like I'm going to think about this one for a little bit longer from now on therefore we regard no one according to the flesh verse 16 sorry for the back first 14 for the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this listen to that this is we've we've decided this we've decided to do some things a certain way because of a certain thing that happened and this is what Paul says that one that one has died for all talking about Jesus therefore all have died well I'm not dead I'm still living you are - what is he talking about he explains it for us Jesus died for all verse 15 that those who live you and me might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised the reason why reconciliation is so important and why it why we need to lean into this is because the love of Christ constrains us it limits our options it's like and why because Jesus God through Jesus it's like he set the table he opened up the door and he sent out invites to everyone saying you're all welcome everyone is welcome I've set it all up it's ready to go everyone's in everyone can participate and how many of you know we get to choose God removed every obstacle every single obstacle to reconciling with was with us he used all of his power everything that he could possibly do on his side to remove the obstacles of reconciliation with him except us so we still have a choice we we get to say yes or no to walking through that in that door of invitation but he did is super important to understand is that he did everything possible in his power to keep the door of reconciliation open and those of you that are picked up where I'm going should start getting a little nervous about this idea because it's challenging it's challenging to the way of America it's challenging to my self-centered way it's challenging to our relationships verse 18 all of this is from who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the Ministry of reconciliation so he through Christ reconciled us to himself in that key that word reconciled really I want you to think of it like blank key that a locksmith takes and and reconciles it to the lock it's like he it fits together perfectly if that's the idea of reconcile that there's this there's this Union this joining that happens and that's what Jesus did for us he reconciled us to himself and now he gives to us people of the way people who follow him people who say yes to his way the opportunity the obligation to be people of reconciliation he says there that all of this is from God who through Christ reconciled us to himself gave us the Ministry of reconciliation verse 19 that is in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself listen to this not counting their trespasses against them he didn't count your sins against you your mistakes your failures against you and then not only that but he entrust to us the same message of reconciliation and here's the key to understanding the Ministry of reconciliation is a simple phrase heard from a guy named Andy Stanley I love this phrase write it down if you're taking notes this is how we can even consider reconciliation in our relationships in spite of not because of in spite of not because of in spite of us God did everything to remove the obstacles for reconciliation with us in spite of you in spite of me in spite of our failures in spite of our mistakes in spite of how I treat Suzanne in Alaska in spite of all of those things God still opens the door to reconciliation with us here's the rub so should we he didn't make us clean up our acts before he accepted us as we are he didn't count our sins against us he forgave us in spite of it while we were still sinners Christ died for us it wasn't because of our sin that he reconciled what with us it was in spite of our sin right but here's the tension why we have we have such a hard time with this ideal is because we don't reconcile we don't reconcile with others because of I'm not gonna talk to him because he did I'm not gonna pick up the phone and call my daughter because she did I'm not going to because of because of because of and listen I get that it's like I feel like that's legitimate because I've heard some of your stories of what people have done and I'd be like yeah I know I wouldn't like him either matter of fact just you telling me about them makes me not like them because people are awful and people do horrible things but but that's not the point the point is in spite of those things Christ still died for them and and in spite of those things Christ invites us to keep the door open to reconciliation Andy Stanley says this in his message he says this it says as Christians we tell people you can be reconciled to God in spite of your sin but you can't be reconciled to me because of your sin in other words I have standards and they are higher than gods you go ahead and be reconciled to God in spite of what you've done but I won't be reconciled to you because of what you've done listen I know I know the pain and the conflict that this brings up in us I'm I know your stories I get that I really do get that I'm not saying this is easy I'm not saying that that it's it's quick I'm not saying that you should start having coffee with people right away that have hurt you I'm not I'm not saying that you should tear down healthy boundaries that you've set up and abuse to protect yourself from abusive relationships I am NOT saying that what I am asking is that and I believe that this is what the word and the love of Christ actually the love of Jesus constrains us to do is to say keep my heart Jesus keep my heart open to reconciliation keep my heart open to the possibility that there that there might be some kind of contact connection communication again help help my heart to not to not get hard toward another because they've hurt me or because I don't agree with them or because they they made me mad by what they said help me to keep a soft open heart because the world listened the world tells you to move on the world tells you to to just just don't do anything don't say anything about them don't do anything with them matter of fact just like just leave it and move on but you all know you can't move on you all know that because you have relationships in your life that you've tried to move on but they keep but it just can't it keeps on coming back to it and and how and so how do we resolve that and listen I I'm not saying this is like a quick fix it's not it's like God would you keep my heart open the idea of the possibility of reconciliation and I know some of the objections listening I'm gonna list three objections to this idea I'm trying to convince myself out of it too much water under the bridge objection number one Steve you don't know I mean it's a lot it's like I've got lists and lists long it's long what they've done to me Suzanne let me tell you Suzanne it's got a list if she wanted to have a list she's got a list too much water under the bridge here's here's the problem with that I'm really glad I didn't say that about you and me I'm just really glad that he didn't look at my life and he could have said it's a lot of brokenness it's a lot of pain Steve you've caused a lot of pain in people's lives it's too much I'm really glad that he didn't do that with me I'm really glad and I'm living in his freedom and I'm living in that life that he's offered to me in spite of what I've done in spite of how I've even treated him in spite of how I've treated others too much water under the bridge section number two maybe you felt this or heard this before you know if I if I keep the door open to reconciliation with this jerk it will look as if I'm condoning their behavior it will look as if and and I and I and I understand this and I and and I mean even you might even feel like you're betraying others who have also been hurt by that person does that make sense because if you like if you're having a conversation with somebody and you've been hurt by the same person and you're talking about that person and because of something that God does in you today you're like you know man I know I know what he's done but in spite of that in spite of that and because of what Jesus has done for me I'm gonna keep my heart open just gonna keep my heart open I'm not gonna close it I'm not gonna get better and I know I've been angry but I'm letting Jesus into those areas too I'm just not gonna and that person that's also been hurt by that is like we what you can't that's betrayal that's like we got to stick together on this thing so reconciliation you might think looks as if you're condoning someone's behavior and I and I know it could look that way but what as I as I thought about this I've tried to think about how do I think about that idea and I realized that Jesus was also accused of condoning behavior based on how he treated others who were broken I think about the prostitute woman I think about tax collectors and I think about the religious leaders that accused Jesus of saying hey man he's like a friend of sinners he's condoning their behavior by his open heart to them but remember it's in spite of not because of it's in spite of what they've done it's not it's not saying they haven't done anything it's not only like yeah everything's fine they're good people now it's it's it's in spite of that I'm gonna keep my heart open objection number two reconciliation looks as if I'm condoning his or her behavior remember Joseph in the Old Testament so remember that story where Joseph is thrown into a pit by the very men that should have protected him his older brothers and they threw him into a pit not only that they sold him into slavery and eat and decades go by and you would think that Joseph would have held on to that bitterness and that hurt and like let it fester and after years of that there's a famine in the land his brothers show up in Egypt to buy food and guess who stand-in there selling the food Joe and Joe is like he sees his brothers and if he hid allowed if he had allowed what we typically allow for walls to be built up and for us to to become cynical and and to us allow the hurt to breed into bitterness if he had allowed that he would not have responded the way in which he responded when he saw his bros come up to buy food and he realized it was them he broke down and wept and he went back and he was like I get to be reconciled with those that I have been unreconciled with for years why because he kept his heart open to the idea of it see I understand why we put walls up and it's to protect us so we don't get hurt again and I get that but what walls do their non-starters and I've put I built walls up between me and others in my life and God is helping me step by step as I lean into his love for me break down those walls and again it doesn't mean that I'm just gonna all of a sudden be able to call somebody that I haven't had any contact with for years and go hey it's Steve you know everything good you know it takes time and spending time in God's presence but God would you keep my heart soft and open to the idea of reconciliation here's object scene number three and this one is really true they're never going to change I am NOT going to keep my heart open to the idea of reconciliation because they are never going to change and I think Suzanne probably thought this points in our relationship steve is not ever going to change and it's amazing I gotta tell you it's amazing that when you love someone in spite of what they've done you keep your heart open to reconciliation in spite of what they've done I'm not saying in every case they'll change I'm not saying that the habit is that 100% of the time but it is amazing how God can use the seed of that love unconditional love you know why I was going to talk a lot about unconditional love today but this phrase in spite of brings our right to home doesn't it it like we could talk all day in the church about unconditional love I love you without conditions doesn't matter what you do but when we say I'm gonna love you in spite of you breaking up with me in Alaska for some other girl I'm gonna love you in spite of how you've hurt me I'm gonna love you in spite of how much I disagree with what you think about in spite of how you've chosen to live I'm gonna love you in spite of in spite of in spite of that is unconditional that's powerful when we as the people of God decide to move into the gap that exists in our society where now it's okay to not love somebody because of because of because of because of and when the people of God realize that this is the way of Jesus we wake up to that reality and we start treating people who are not like us who disagree with us who make choices that we don't think are good that even hurt us that we make choices to love it's transformative it's a guy named Miroslav Volf Croatian guy that wrote this book years ago exclusion and embrace the theological exploration of identity other nests and reconciliation he's I want to read something he this is this is hard this is hard but I believe it under the conditions of pervasive non innocence which means pervasive guilt under those conditions of pervasive non innocence the work of reconciliation should proceed under this assumption that though the behavior of a person may be judged as deplorable even demonic no one not even that person should ever be excluded from the possibility of embrace because at the deepest level he writes the relationship to others does not rest on their moral performance and therefore cannot be undone by the lack of it this is hard you guys I'm not saying this is easy I'm saying that as I look and and the only way that I have allowed myself to progress in this area is I keep my eyes centered on Jesus because if Jesus died for all he died for everyone and he opened the door to everyone but not everyone walked through and I look at that and I realized that he knew even going to the cross that not everyone would accept the offer that he was making in his death he knew that when he went to the cross that people would reject him that and they were direct his followers and he knew that and yet he still went there because of his love because he knows that that the power of keeping the door open and setting the table and sending out the invite to reconciliation is the only possibility of reconciliation actually happening in our culture look at 2nd Corinthians 5 verse 16 we'll finish with this from now on therefore Paul writes we regard no one say no one we regard no one not the person I've hurt not the person that hurt me not the person I disagree with not the person that doesn't look like me not the person that has rejected me we regard no one from according to the flesh even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh we regard him thus no longer therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation the old way the world's way the my way has passed away behold the new has years ago I had a really close friend we pastored in two separate cities and every conference we had a yearly pastors conference there quite twice a year so we would see each other go out to lunch enjoy our time together talking about deep things and spiritual things and family things and really good a good friend and we ended up working together here a number of years ago and when I became the lead pastor I ended up letting him go from staff and in the process of that hurt him and his family deeply the way it went there were a lot of regrets that I have about that and broke the relationship like solidly done over you have any really shoots like that in your life where you just think about you think about the person and it causes a little bit of anxiety in you or or you know you don't talk about anybody just me out there anybody out there yeah you have relationships where you just like this causes a stress in your life and it was this way for a while and then a couple years after I got a text from him and it was just Steve would love to get together if you have time you know my first inclination right is like anxiety because this is you know I deserve it I deserve whatever he's gonna give me I deserve it and instead he offered grace and love and mercy and forgiveness and and it started us on the road toward reconciliation it didn't happen overnight and I would say it's still in process but just over a month ago we sat in the coffee shop together and wept together over the loss of my son over some brokenness in his life and we prayed together we had this it's just listen only God only as we lean into the way of Jesus can these things happen in our lives where there's so much brokenness and you just didn't think it's not even possible why even make the effort why should I call up that person I haven't talked to them in years but every time you think about it it causes your stress why should I do that it just likes just to bother and so I can't I mean it just takes so much energy and yet the love of Christ constrains us it limits our options Suzanne loves me in spite of myself and out of that I mean I think about how jesus loves us in spite of what we've done and and one of his first followers john says that i love him because he first loved me I can love I can love like him because he loved me in spite of what I've done you might be thinking this is impossible and I won't blame you and I would say without Jesus it is impossible I don't know any other way than by leaning in and listening to his word and and and and thinking about these things and asking him to fill us with his spirit I don't know any other way to see people the way he sees them to see those relationships that are broken and to see those people not from a flesh from the flesh but from the spirit the way that he sees them to see people who are different than us believe differently than us treat us certain ways you know we're a nation founded on that all all were created equal and men and women have given their lives to this ideal given their lives to say there's there's something better that we can have in this country and I'm so grateful for people like Abraham Lincoln who in the early stages of this nation was able to keep us reconciled to sides can you imagine two sides more diametrically opposed in their belief system that somehow and I believe it was because he leaned in Lincoln leaned into the way of Jesus and he saw something beyond that could actually bring them back together the the key could be Reve remade to fit the lock and today are we willing to sacrifice ourselves and to fight for reconciliation wherever there is brokenness you close your eyes with me for a moment and there's a lot of steps between where you are today and where I am with the friend I talked about with where I am with my wife with where I am with so many other relationships I know there's a lot of steps between now and there but I want to help you with the first step because often that's the hardest one and it's an it's kind of an easy step but it's kind of not because you're making a decision because when this series is over nothing will have changed in your relationships you're still have the same fear the same anxiety is the same uncertainties the same tensions but you will have taken a step in your heart toward God's heart if you acknowledge and ask Jesus would you open up my heart to the idea of reconciliation with those in my life would you open up my heart to the idea of reconciliation and if that's you and if you want to say yeah 1 I've got relationships that are broken into I'm willing today to declare to myself into God that I'm keeping my heart open by His grace and by his Spirit's power to the idea of reconciliation in all of my relationships and if you want to make that commitment would you simply right now just raise your hand say that's me God opened up my heart helped my heart to be open to the idea of reconciliation Jesus would you give us the wisdom to know what to do next would you give us the courage to act on it would you give us revelation by your spirit of the potential of what relationships might look like when we infuse your way into the mix and I pray for grace I pray for truth and I pray for your way to reign in our lives in Jesus name Amen I wanna invite you to the pro team is available over at the prayer wall I may have or Jesus may have opened up some wounds in this message I realize that so the per team is available I also realized that many are really happy this is the last message in this series man pokin and proddin and and so we can all be we can all take a deep breath and go alright now not to go back to normal I hope but to say God I'm better for it also next weekend we're gonna take a little bit of a breather or still have search we always have Church but we're gonna have a guest speaker anybody know this is not the way to say this but anybody know who wanker Darrow is it's not him I knew as soon as I started saying it I was like this is not the way to do this it's actually Wayne as begin to release the church and new hope to new leadership a guy named John Burgess is a co pastor there with him and John's gonna be here and he's a great communicator you're thoroughly gonna enjoy him and he'll be much more lighthearted you know when you go speak somewhere it's not heavy like this you know you just like bring everybody up and cheer because we do that as preachers because we just want you to like us at the end of the day we're all insecure and so he's gonna bring jelly beans even I mean that's how insecure John is there's gonna be jelly bellies in the service so you don't want to miss it and that's next week and then two weeks from today we're starting a new series called subversive savior and that we're gonna be looking at some hard even some more harder teachings of Jesus I know but I I don't know about you guys I just want more of him I want more of him in my life and in my relationships and interacting I just want that and I want that for our church because his way is a better way it really is and so hope you can join us this weekend at this coming weekend and next weekend and why'd you guys stand before we take off and I just want to speak a blessing over you that your relationships will be full free and healthy and tell somebody next to you before you take off hey what are you doing for Memorial Day go ahead talk to each other before you take off

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