Natural Enemies

bible preaching

I preached the third part of my "Them vs. Us" series this past weekend. I titled it "Natural Enemies" after this brilliant quote from the theologian Donald Carson:

“Ideally… the church itself is not made up of natural ‘friends.’ It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together… because… they have all been loved by Jesus himself… They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.”

I love the idea of the church being the place where enemies learn to function together as an 'us' because of Jesus. The sad part is that we're not good at actually loving our enemies, even though Jesus literally told us to do it (Mt. 5:43-48).

The author Dan White Jr. has been surveying Christians over the last few years and has found that we justify our disobedience to Jesus based on our personality and how we see the world. He found that:

  • 76% of those who identified as progressive saw “loving enemies” as a compromise with injustice
  • 78% of those who identified as conservative saw “loving enemies” as a compromise with immorality

One of the quickest ways to make an enemy is to blame other people, and I focused the message on how we find this theme in the book of Job. For comparison, we find in the book of Jeremiah that the prophet is sent to give God's cup of anger to "all the kings of the land of Uz" (Jer. 25:20). Clearly, these were bad people.

But then the book of Job begins by telling us, "In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Whether or not Job from Uz could really be blameless and upright is tested throughout the following 42 chapters. Job blames God. Job's friends blame Job. All of them are wrong.

We learn that finding someone to blame gives you temporary relief at the expense of creating an enemy.

Jesus offers a better way.

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