REVOLTING BEAUTY. What is it exactly? It seems contradictory. Whatever is beautiful attracts us; whatever is revolting repels us. How can we be attracted to, and repelled by, the same thing? Finding the answer to this question lies at the heart of what God has called us to be as his people. The paradoxical phrase “Revolting Beauty” takes us to the essence of the Kingdom. We are called to be a people that offer the beauty of the cross, which is both horrifying and alluring at the same time. The way of the cross is a way of beauty that stands for something radical and counter-cultural.
We are one-of-a-kind revolutionaries with inner greatness meant to glorify God. He has a unique calling for each of us – something that he’s given us special gifts and passion for – and we’ll never be truly fulfilled until we follow it! But too often our God-given beauty gets caged in culturally conditioned lies about why we can’t do the extraordinary things we’re meant to do. God is calling Kingdom people to unleash the beauty he’s built into each of us!
Luke’s story of Mary and Martha is very relevant for our culture: like Martha, we are obsessed with working and producing, even in the church! It’s clear that Mary’s “better way” revolts against simply “doing” and prioritizes a relationship with Christ. When that’s in place, the kingdom will naturally flow from us. But the opposite is not true. We’ll never get a relationship with Jesus by focusing on what we do. Greg also ties this important lesson to marriages.
Living in love for all people is one of the greatest challenges we face as Christians. Today, as in Jesus’ time, we often ask theoretical questions to justify ourselves and to limit who we love. In this message we’re challenged to ask how we self-sacrificially love and learn from those around us, including “outcasts” in our life. One crucial way to revolt against the systems of this world is to serve and be blessed by people who are judged by others.
The Revolting Beauty series continues as we are brought face to face with the very heart of God and the center of the Kingdom: namely, Jesus' teaching on self-sacrificial love. In this sermon we learn about the four types of love, and the importance of living in such a way that God's agape-love flows to and through us. Finally, Greg helps us consider some of the areas in our culture that we will naturally “revolt” against if we are walking in the “relational way” of God's self-sacrificial love.
Our modern, Western way of thinking can easily blind us to the reality of the spiritual world. We are called to revolt against this cultural tendency by waking up both to God’s constant presence in our lives and to the spiritual war around us. We also learn that Jesus has given his church authority over demonic powers in this world, and that no matter what we experience in this life, our hope and joy is rooted in the love of God!
Like Jesus' first disciples, we will be constantly confronted by anti-Kingdom values – in our case things like individualism, independence, and self-sufficiency. But Jesus' alternative Kingdom vision is very straightforward. As we reach out to the world around us, we're simply called to depend upon God and his community, enter into authentic relationships, act like Jesus, and then explain why.
In this first sermon of the Revolting Beauty series, we learn two aspects of how we are to stand out and revolt against our culture. First, no matter how “together” our lives are, God wants us to be part of what he is doing in the world. Second, allegiance to the Kingdom of God means that we may have to give up things that are good and normal in our culture. We need to consider even our most firmly rooted values: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.