Last week in our ongoing Matthew series, we discussed “Jesus and Loving Your Enemy” as taught in Matthew 5:43–48. We’re camping out on this passage for another week but shifting our focus to politics (next week we’ll pick up where we left off at the end of the Sermon on the Mount).
Here’s how you can prepare for this Sunday:
1. Read our text, Matthew 5:43–48.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Last week, we discussed how the term Jesus uses for “love” in Matthew 5:43–48 is agape—a love of efficacy, comprised of attitudes, and actions. We also looked at the term “enemies,” seeing past our cultural, English reading of that word to recognize that Jesus includes people we disagree with and people outside our “camp”.
In an American election season, the volume level on the political discourse around us was already being turned up louder and louder day after day. Add to that a global pandemic, great unrest around racial injustice, and large-scale environmental crises like forest fires. You’re hearing a lot of voices right now, leading you to attitudes and actions.
So what does it mean to love our neighbor through engagement in the political sphere? What does it look like to love people we disagree with? If we did love them, we need to believe Jesus that we would be a light in the darkness, reflecting God’s love to the world.
2. Read, pray, and sing through the service:
Don’t use Spotify? Click the song title below to see song on YouTube.
CALL TO WORSHIP: Psalm 99:1–3:
The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The LORD is great in Zion;
He is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise Your great and awesome name!
Holy is He!
Rejoice The Lord Is King (Joel Limpic, Charles Wesley)
CONFESSION OF SIN: From The Worship Sourcebook:
it is hard to forgive people
when they hurt us and our friends.
We want to hit back—
and sometimes we do.
But You teach us to love our enemies
no matter what they do.
Forgive us, Lord Jesus,
when we do not forgive others.
Help us to understand why people hurt others,
and let our hearts be filled with love for them. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: Micah 7:18–19
Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of His inheritance?
He does not retain His anger forever,
because He delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
PASSING THE PEACE
(Click to Read)
When we’ve met as a large group on Sundays, we’ve always had a time of greeting one another after singing. Many churches call this time “passing the peace.” In some church traditions, one person will say to another, “The peace of Christ be with you” to which the other person responds, “And also with you.”
While potentially unfamiliar for some, we felt that “passing the peace” during greeting times at home could be a powerful act in this age marked by very little external peace. In Isaiah 9, Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace. He wants His kingdom to be marked by this very peace! We want to “pass” to one another this peace that only Jesus can give, especially at a time like this.
It might feel a bit cheesy, but we encourage you to actually pray the peace of God over each other during our times. We encourage you to look into each other’s eyes as you say, “The peace of Christ be with you!” and have others respond with, “And also with you.” Be open-hearted to Jesus, asking Him to fill you with His peace.
SERMON & COMMUNION
Cornerstone (Bradbury, Liljero, Morgan, Mote, Myrin)