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Love or Die

• Greg Boyd

In this sermon, Greg provides a big picture overview of the series on God’s final judgment and why it is so crucial, especially during this time in history.

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As God’s people, we rally around the fact that Jesus is the revelation of who God is and the commitment to live in love as God loved us. We do this as a church by practicing GAPS. G stands for “Get all your life from Christ.” A means “Agree with God that every person you encounter has unsurpassable worth.” P represents “Pray for your enemies.” And S is for “Steward well the Earth and the animal kingdom.”

This focus on the revelation of Jesus gives us the ability to see rightly what is going on in the world. We do not get our life from the successes that we might experience in the progress of human achievement. Instead, we recognize that the world as we know it is moving toward an end, a kind of death. On the other side of this death, Jesus will restore all things and purge all evil so that love might fully reign. God’s people are called to live with an expectancy, an eager expectation that God will bring an end to this current world order and usher in a new heavens and a new earth.

We do not know when the end will come, as we are told that it will come like a thief in the night. The urgency that we should have is crucial for living faithfully in a world that is pervaded by evil. God’s justice will come fully and change the world as we know it, and we are to look forward to this coming.

In our time, we see the old world order unraveling, which points to the fact that this world is coming to an end. The foundations are breaking apart. These things point to the time when the current world order will crumble and Jesus’ coming will reveal the truth. This unraveling should cause us to open our eyes to the need to be living in eager expectation for the coming of Christ.

In the midst of this crumbling world, we need to learn to live in love and let go of judgment or we will bring on the end of the world as we know it. If we don’t love, we will become consumed by our own actions and bring down creation upon us. Our job is to prepare ourselves for the future, which is a life of love. We either get ready for this now or our own actions will fall upon us. Only love will remain. All else will fade away.

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Topics: Discipleship, Judgment, Kingdom of God

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Cross Examination

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The MuseCast: Love or Die

Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 24:32

    From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.

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3 thoughts on “Love or Die

  1. Jerry says:

    My brother, my only sibling, died at age 54 of brain cancer. He was a senior partner in charge of new product development for a premier aviation software engineering company. The company convinced the family to do brain surgery and it didn’t end well. Not only could he not communicate his thoughts well in words by within a month the right side of his body became paralyzed. His wife, a petite person, could not handle him, a big guy, so he spent his remaining months in a facility. He lived halfway across the country from me. Expressing emotions has always been difficult for him and me. At the very end, he finally cried. I never did. My brother would often comment that our mama did a pretty good job beating emotions out of us when we were kids.

    Life can certainly feel like a storm.

    As a side note: On a recent podcast, on thatdankent.com with Kurt Willems, something Dan said struck me. “I can endure a lot if I know that there is a good God on the other side that suffers with me”. This was in response to Kurt’s thoughts on the final outcome, restoration, being bookended but God’s timing being contingent on dynamic paths as God partners to do anything possible to redeem if possible things that He did not cause, some traumas are unredeemable, using some other angle, a new future when things go amuck; not things that God caused because we needed to grow in character.

    Culture can bait you to the threshold of self-destruction and then condemn you once you step through the door – [as Greg said “in this stream of polarization that’s going on it seems like we’re going farther and farther apart, the ante gets higher and higher, the stakes get larger and larger, the rhetoric gets hotter and hotter and it’s getting worse and worse at a faster and faster rate”] – but NOT so in the kingdom.

    Certainly, the Sermon on the Mount was about kingdom versus culture. (The wise versus the foolish way of doing life)

    Jesus ends with:

    Matthew 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

    Matthew 7:26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

    However, knowing and doing are two completely different experiences with two completely different outcomes.

    We all need to follow Jesus (applied wisdom) not just hear.

    Ephesians 6:12 for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    Science tells us that flesh and blood are in a lesser proportion to spiritual forces. There are both good and evil spirit realms. Moving the kingdom forward is a plus ++ for the good side.

    “I am a spiritual being who currently has a physical body. I occupy my body and its environs by my consciousness of it and by my capacity to will and to act with and through it. I occupy my body and its proximate space, but I am not localizable in it or around it. You cannot find me or any of my thoughts, feelings, or character traits in any part of my body. Even I cannot. If you wish to find me the last thing you should do is open my body to take a look, examine it closely with a microscope or other physical instruments”. Dallas Willard Divine Conspiracy

    Cercatore said in a recent post: Having that prerequisite and foundational understanding, can then set the frame and tone for how we interpret theology and God’s beautiful & salvific ‘entanglement’ in our lives! – [I elaborated on the character and nature of God – sermon /getting-off-your-high-horse/ starting with comment-248283]

    We live in both an already and not yet harmonic that has good and evil aspects.

    As Greg said, “We are called to challenge one another to live in love and prepare for the end where the love we bring is the only thing that will endure”.

    Greg also said ”we either, as a species, are going to learn how to love and let go of all of our judgments, our grievances, our hatred, our pride, our prejudices, our adultery, our idolatry and learn to live in love or we’re going to bring upon ourselves the end of the world as we know it. That has really been the proposition all along in the entire biblical narrative. If you live in love you bring about the kingdom of God but if you don’t you’ve begun to die in that day”.

    It’s an ongoing cosmic dance back and forth between what will endure and what will need to be left at the gate.

    Accredited to Martin Luther “If I knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, I would plant an apple tree today.”

    As Greg says “I don’t know what part of this world as we know it will come to an end and so we’re heading into unfamiliar territory”.

    I want to think that this tree will endure.

    When we move the kingdom forward love is moving forward also – as Rob Bell wrote in the end “Love Wins”.

  2. Sarah Houpt says:

    Are we supposed to anticipate this Judgment Day with joy or with grief? Doing it with joy seems to imply be unrealistic, as if we should bring chaos and death. Whereas with grief seems to imply giving into the depressing despair, and something that may impair a child’s mental growth.

  3. Serenity says:

    Very interesting series. Yes, Jesus instructed that we pray for our persecutors who hate, curse, mistreat or abuse us. This countercultural teaching contradicted Greek, Roman and Jewish mainstream messaging. It necessitated identification of enemies (potentially for prayerful change by God’s love) and came with the parallel instruction of Jesus that we daily pray for everybody that God “deliver us from evil” (or evil one, depending on how you take original archaic language in translation of what we now call the Lord’s Prayer across denominations awaiting the “end of days” without knowing when exactly that might be).

    The importance of our own prayer for all to be delivered from evil is reinforced by Jesus having personally prayed in John 17 that God protect us from evil.

    By this clear guidance of Jesus about our prayer for others, we can do the good of being spiritually loving in prayer for persecutors while physically detached for safety as we also pray “deliver us from evil.” The practice that adds prayer for deliverance from evil avoids the doctrinal harm of seeming to privilege the persecutors without accountability to those they have hurt.

    In a system of western culture with multi-millennial established practices to condone or overlook oppressive dominance behaviors enacted by a historical ruling class (and deny or minimize harm to the less privileged), it’s important to emphasize that Jesus instructed us to all pray “deliver us from evil.” Jesus regularly sided with the oppressed (“the least of these,” the Good Samaritan and the Woman Whose Stoning He Stopped).

    Of course in following Jesus we pray for the blessing of healing and God’s good loving will as potentially transformative for persecutors. But we do not pray in a vacuum of ignorance about the evil of persecution that harms the societally vulnerable for which we seek God’s deliverance. If we use the example specified by Jesus, we daily pray for all of us to be delivered from evil, as well as to be supplied with bodily and spiritual needs of food and forgiveness.

    In context of the sermon series, by the analogy of Jesus to sorting wheat from chaff and overall from the bible, experience and history, it makes sense that an apocalyptic ending to this multi-millennial phase of human “say so” is in store. We’re not robots after all but ensouled sentient creatures with free wills that sometimes collide. Prayer or not, some people will never stop using their free will the wrong way of persecution. God as Holy Spirit exists to comfort if we ask when persecutors’ free-willed behavior hurts us despite our prayer.

    We can choose God or not according to the good news of Jesus. At some later point of the soul school, God closes the gate on this old earth’s possibilities and, Jesus taught, the apocalyptic end brings a new beginning but only for those who chose wisely by thought and action. To pray as instructed by Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit is a foundational love lesson meanwhile.

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