God has called us to seek the peace of the land in which we live, to be God’s ambassadors who offer a third way. How do we do this? In this conversational sermon, Bill Doherty, from the organization Braver Angels, shares his experience of leading workshops that include Democrats and Republicans with the goal of helping each group understand the other.
When Jeremiah wrote the focus scripture above, many of the Israelites were in exile in Babylon. Although not in their homeland, God tells the Israelites to seek the welfare of the city where they were living and to pray for its wellbeing. They were to pursue and to advance the peace of God, even though they were living in a hostile foreign land, as they had been captured and taken away from their home.
Today, as God’s ambassadors who live in the midst of the polarization and divisiveness, we need to heed this word to the Israelites. In a similar way, Jesus taught us to be a light, the salt of the earth, and a city upon a hill. In fact, Jesus modeled a way for his disciples to live out this difference in the middle of first century polarization. Not only did he befriend and minister to people from every aspect of life, but he also gathered people together who represented the polar opposites of the political spectrum. Matthew was a tax collector who colluded with the Roman government, and Simon the Zealot had been part of a group who typically tried to kill people like Matthew.
When you have Christ in common, the most extreme political differences cannot, or at least should not, divide us. We are ambassadors of the Kingdom stationed in a foreign land who must see the calling of Christ as transcending political differences.
The challenging question we face is this: how do we pursue the welfare of the city and offer the peace of Christ as ambassadors today? To explore the practicalities of this question, a large portion of this sermon focuses around a conversation with Bill Doherty, a professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. This is followed by a live Q&A to bring clarity to the practicalities of what it means to bring peace during this time of animosity.
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