VIVE LA REDIRECTION!

 

Donald Trump.

Do you see him as a savior? Then I say to you:

“Trust in the name of the Lord.”

Do you view him as the enemy? Then I remind you of the command of the Lord:

“Love your enemies.”

Are you somewhere inbetween or elsewhere? Then I say to you:

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord.”

And so, to us all I preach the words of the Spirit of the Lord:

“Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respectful fear of God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

And how then shall that be done? It begins with honor. Donald Trump is not God, nor is he Satan. He, like each and every one of us, is made in the image of God, and is a victim of Satan.

And so, let us redirect our hearts from veneration or vilification of him. Let us redirect our knees to the ground and our hearts no longer to Washington, but to the throne of heaven instead. Let us redirect our misguided and misled spirit and so, invite every Christian to unite in prayer with me and say with faith in the Lord and with the will of the Amen:

“O Lord, open the President of the United States’ eyes!”

honor everyone … honor the emperor

 

He is virtually worshiped by many. He is, simultaneously, vilified by many. And by many others, something in between.

He occupies an exceedingly powerful position. His choices and actions affect the lives of billions. Billions. And who, I ask, is adequate in themselves for such a task?

Now I don’t care on which side of the aisle you sit – if either – but, as Christians we do take God at his word, don’t we?

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

And so, how exactly can/will we, Christians, “honor” Donald Trump?

If in no other way, we can do this: we can honor Trump by holding him up before God in prayer. Deliberately and regularly.

Not in reaction to matters we see or hear in the news. Not motivated or filtered by our own personal, political perspectives.

And if our prayers are heard by others, we will not pray in any way “to the gallery,” as if to make a point, get in a jab, or to stimulate a mocking laugh or sneer. Nor will we pray in knee-jerk response or with a “Monday morning quarterback” air about us concerning his attitudes, behaviors, policies, or Tweets.

But, simply to pray for a fellow human being made in the image of God, Donald Trump. A man who is just like each of us: a being in desperate need of God and so, the prayer of others on his behalf.

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

Imagine. Imagine every Christian in this land praying for Trump on a regular basis. What might happen? What could happen? For Trump? For ourselves? For the world? For the church families of which we are a part? If we pray in faith?

And so, let talk to God, with trust, for Trump, laying aside any and all sense of human politics within us.

For our Lord has sent his Father’s to us through his Spirit and his will says to us:

“Honor everyone. … Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.17)

the 3 R’s: respect

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Jan. 6). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning entitled The 3 R’s: Respect. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To recall the fundamental place respect holds in all our dealings with God and people.

Word

• I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. (Gen. 12.2)

• Each of you must respect your mother and father … (Lev. 19.3)

• You must rise in the presence of an old person and respect the elderly. (Lev. 19.32)

• … respect the LORD and act accordingly, because there can be no injustice, playing favorites, or taking bribes when it comes to the LORD our God. (2 Chron. 19.7)

• The fear of the LORD is wise instruction, and humility comes before respect. (Prov. 15.33)

• … if I’m a master, where is my respect? says the Lord … to you priests who despise my name. So you say, “How have we despised your name?” (Mal. 1.6)

• … give respect to those you should respect … (Rom. 13.7)

• … submit to each other out of respect for Christ. (Eph. 5.21)

• Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. (1 Thes. 5.12)

• … they should first learn to respect their own family and repay their parents, because this pleases God. (1 Tim. 5.4)

• … let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe … (Heb. 12.28)

• Have respectful fear of God. (1 Pet. 2.17)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all just start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. In 1965, Otis Redding wrote the song that Aretha Franklin made famous in 1968: Respect. How much of this song’s lyrics can your group recall?

2. What words do you consider as virtual synonyms of the word “respect?” Antonyms?

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Humility precedes respect (Prov. 15.33). What else might precede receiving respect?

2. How could/should/would a church express respect for her leaders (1 Thes. 5.12)?

3. What marks of disrespect are singled out for explicit mention in the preceding texts?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. Respect has degrees, but can a human become worthy of zero respect? Explain.

2. What sort of things quickly breed disrespect in your heart for others? Why?

3. What behaviors in people do you witness the church rewarding with respect?

4. Is this statement true or false: “Live right and you’ll be respected.” Explain.

5. Sinless Jesus was not respected, but was despised and rejected. How could this be?

6. How does a person’s respect for Christ affect their respect for people?

7. Finish this sentence: “During my life in Christ, I believe I’ve grown in respect of ____.”

the fifth commandment

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

At MoSt Church this coming Sunday morning, Apr. 17, most of our adult Bible classes will study the fifth of the Ten Commandments (“honor your father and mother”). Following are seventeen questions to help you think about this commandment and to assist in your personal preparation for class Sunday morning.

1. The first four of the Ten Commandments deal directly with respect for God while the last six deal with showing respect to people. How is the placement of this commandment (honor your parents) significant as the first of the commandments dealing with respect for people?

2. Under the Law, the sternest of penalties were threatened against anyone who broke this commandment. “Everyone who curses their mother or father will be put to death.” (Lev. 20:9; Ex. 21:17). This is the same penalty as blasphemy against God (Lev. 24:15-16). Why do you suppose this commandment has such stern penalties attached to it whereas others, such as stealing, do not?

3. What are the two promises connected with this commandment? How are we to correctly interpret these promises? Is the text saying that if a parent dies early then it was a sure sign they were not a good parent? Is it saying that if we are not successful then it’s because we dishonored our parents? How is it exactly that honoring one’s parents helps make life longer or better for a person?

4. We usually hear this commandment discussed in the context of children still living at home respecting their parents as they grow up and are yet to be out on their own. However, this commandment extends throughout our life and is by no means limited to our pre-adult years. How does this reminder affect the way you hear this commandment?

5. What instances of disrespect from children toward their parents do you recall are recorded in Scripture?

6. Where is this commandment referenced in the New Testament? What is the context there?

7. How has your relationship, or lack of one, with your parents affected your relationship with your heavenly Father?

8. What is your emotional reaction when you hear a child (no matter their age) being disrespectful to, or of, their parents? Would you say children are most often disrespectful because they lack honor or because their parents do not require honor from them?

9. How does a parent lay the foundation for the respect they are to receive from their children by their showing respect to their children?

10. It is easy to honor an “honorable” parent but how can a child honor a “dishonorable” parent, a parent that behaves badly toward them?

11. While our culture worships youth, Scripture extols the praise of those who are older. Where do you see evidence of the tension between these two differing world views? What are some (perhaps conflicting) ways our culture views “seniors” today? “A wise child heeds a parent’s instructions” (Proverbs 13:1). What trends and events in society have caused us to ignore this good advice?

12. Ageism is as sinful as racism. Give some examples of ageism that you detect in our society today, within, or without, of the church. Do you see increasing age as an plus, as a minus, or as something completely neutral to you in life today?

13. It is quite possible to take this commandment to honor our parents to a harmful extreme. “If we never defied the people who parented us, either we never really grew up or they never really allowed it. ‘Parents,’ Peter Ustinov wrote, ‘are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth.'” (Joan Chittister) And so, where is the boundary line where the “keeping” of this commandment crosses over into something dishonorable to the parents and/or the child? Under what circumstances should a child ever disobey a parent?

14. What responsibilities of honoring your parents continue after they are deceased?

15. If you have a living parent, what are three specific, practical ways you can express your loving commitment of respect and honor to them? If you do not have a living parent, how can you express such to senior members of our church family?

16. Imagine what could be if the church today took the same sort of collective responsibility for children that the Israelites did in the time of Moses. What problems might we see reduced? What hurdles can you imagine being in the way of implementation of such and how might we clear them?

17. What creative possibilities for affirming older folks and helping them preserve their dignity exist in our church family? What additional ones might be worth exploring?