Jesus Loves You, But Everyone Else Thinks You Are A Jerk!
(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
I know, not a very nice title right? But isn’t it oh-so-very true! How many times have you thought that? How many times have you thought that Jesus may love them, but “I’m not sure I am at that place right now”? In this final message on Botox Church we talked about demonstrating epic love to difficult people. Paul found himself exactly in that spot.
Text: 1 Cor. 4:14-21
Big Idea: Hanging in with tough/difficult people will push us to the edge. By edge I mean to a point of running out of energy and determination.
Question: What are the edges that we often come to in challenging relationships?
Paul demonstrates a positive model in the following four examples of edges.
The Edge of Grace (v.14)
“One of the distinctive features of the religion of the bible is grace. No other system of religious thought, past or present, contains an emphasis on divine grace comparable to that of the Bible.”
Have you ever been to the edge of grace? Ever felt like you are about to run out of grace?
In Hebrew, “grace” means “good, merry, pleasant, friendly, kind, morally good”. Grace involves such other subjects as forgiveness, salvation, regeneration, repentance and the love of God.
In the Greek, one of the ideas that struck me, in light of our subject matter, is that grace includes the idea of the divine power which equips a person to live a moral life. Moral as in, “I feel like killing that person but instead I will let them live another day!” Oh how kind we are!
Notice the specific example of grace in our text. It is seen in v.14 and in the contrast between “shame” versus “warn” -
“Shame” means to feel disgrace, inferior, unworthy, embarrassed, belittle, demean, while “warn” means to try to correct while not provoking or embittering, to call to one’s attention.
I think this can be a very hard line not to cross. When we run out of grace we can quickly run into shame tactics.
Do you have a hall of fame of shame? Times that you have crossed over and shamed someone or been shamed yourself?
On Sunday I talked about all the ways that we can shame a person. Talk about this in your group. I mentioned how tone of voice, body posture, choice of words can shame someone. Sometimes bringing up old issues can shame someone or revealing someone’s secret in public can shame them.
Do you have any “shame tapes” that play in your head of someone shaming you? We have all heard that sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. How big of a lie is that? Words of shame can torpedo our souls!
Are you near the edge, on the edge, over the edge when it comes to exercising grace in a tough relationship?
The Edge of Commitment (v.14,15,17,18)
Note the statements in all these verses that demonstrate Paul’s commitment to them.
- He calls them “dear children”. “Agapao” (dear) is the strongest kind of love, the deepest love, an affectionate address. An address of value, priority, importance and commitment.
- He reminds them that he is their spiritual father - they may have many teachers/guardians but only one spiritual father.
- He sends his very best, Timothy, to tend to their needs.
- He mentions that he will come to them very soon.
What makes this interesting is that while Paul is hanging on to them, many of them have let go of him. They are rejecting and abandoning him, but he is doing the exact opposite. Commitment!
Note what is happening: Paul is modeling grace in the face of their nastiness, and commitment in the face of rejection. When we are committed we will often find ourselves doing the opposite of what the person may be doing to us. This is exactly Paul’s case. Some of them have rejected him, but he is affirming his commitment to them.
Are you near the edge, on the edge, over the edge when it comes to walking out commitment in a challenging relationship?
The Edge of Integrity (v.16)
We get our English word “mimic” from Paul’s statement, “follow me.” What impresses me with this statement is that he is saying this to some folks who are tough to love. Tough people to love tend to take us to our lowest points, our worst moments, our yuckiest days. He is essentially saying that while you Corinthians may have pushed me to the edge, and while I might have even considered jumping, I didn’t. By the grace of God!!!!!
Could you say to that tough person in your life “follow me as I follow Christ?”
If not, why not?
In what relational sphere is it easiest to lose your integrity? Family, work, friends, ...
What do you suggest one does when one goes over the edge on the issue of integrity?
Are you near the edge, on the edge, over the edge when it comes to integrity?
The Edge of Courage (v.18-21)
Where do you see the courage in Paul’s words in these verses?
Sometimes in tough relationships we run out of gas to confront, to say the hard thing, to jump in to the person’s issues. We can find ourselves in one of two extremes: we drop a bomb and blow the person out of the water - no grace - and we lose our integrity in the process. Or, we say nothing because we have come to the edge and gone over regarding energy, willingness and patience.
Discuss the following:
Have you ever sat down, made the phone call and had the tough conversation, and it all worked out really well? Got those stories?
Have you ever sat down and had the tough conversation and it all worked out really poorly? Like dropping a pumpkin from the 10 floor of an high rise- splat. Got those stories?
Ever wished you did muster up the courage to have the tough conversation but did not? You may now see the fall out that might have been prevented if only you had spoken up.
Are you near the edge, on the edge, over the edge when it comes to courage?
Jesus loves you but everyone else thinks you are a jerk.
How about changing that to “Jesus loves you and yes others, many others may think you are a jerk, but by God’s grace, by the life of God in me I will love you so you can see this amazing Jesus that loves so perfectly!” The heart of the Gospel is epic love (Romans 5:8). Might we live epic lives!
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REFLECTION ON SCRIPTURE
- People: Who are the people in this passage and how are they like us today?
- Place: What is the setting and what are the similarities to our world?
- Plot: What is happening? Is there any conflict or tension? How would I have acted in that situation?
- Point: What was the intended message for the first people to hear this passage? What did God want them to learn or feel or do?
- Principles: What are the timeless truths?
- Present: How is this relevant in our world today?
- Parallels: Where does this truth apply to my life? At home, at work, at school, in church, in the neighborhood?
- Personal: What attitude, action, value, or belief needs to change in me?
- Plan: What would be my first step of action?