My friend Sylvia (yes, the same friend as last week!) and her husband always go to the National Prayer Breakfast, eager to see how the Lord will show up, for He always has. He did it again this year. The speaker was Arthur Brooks, a professor at Harvard, a Catholic Christian, and the author of “Love your Enemies,” a book with this sub-title: “How Decent People Can Save America from The Culture of Contempt.”
With President Trump on one side and Nancy Pelosi on the other, Brooks proceeded with the revolutionary message of Jesus. This followed days of contempt: Pelosi ripping up Trump’s speech on national television, Trump refusing to shake Pelosi’s outstretched hand, and intense sarcasm from each political party about the other.
I will give a link to the entire 15-minute talk, but below are a few of Brook’s stand-out comments:
I am here to talk about what I believe is the biggest crisis facing our nation and many other nations…the crisis of contempt — that polarization that is tearing our society apart.
I want to turn to the words of the ultimate original thinker…my personal Lord and Savior, Jesus…: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
In the words of the 19th-century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, contempt is “the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.”
The world’s leading expert on marital reconciliation is Dr. John Gottman…he can predict with 94 percent accuracy whether the couple will divorce within three years. How can he tell? …The biggest warning signs, he explains, are indicators of contempt. These include sarcasm, sneering, hostile humor and — worst of all — eye-rolling. These little acts effectively say, “You are worthless” to the one person, a spouse, you should love more than any other.
My sisters and brothers, when you leave the National Prayer Breakfast…see the world outside this room as mission territory. We might just mark this day…as the point at which our national healing begins.
What happened next is that Trump stood up and told Brooks he wasn’t sure he agreed with him and that he wouldn’t like what he was about to say. What followed was a diatribe against the impeachment attempt on the part of the Democrats. My friend Sylvia cringed, thinking:
No, no, no! President Trump! Don’t blow this opportunity to bring healing.
Trump continued on, yet near the end of his venting, he looked at Brooks and said, “But I’m thinking about what you said…”
Later, in a break-out session, a young man shared the anger he felt at Trump, but then the Spirit convicted him of his contempt. Sylvia said, “That convicted me of my contempt.”
Likewise, Sylvia’s story convicted me of my contempt against people of both parties, contempt against those who post political jibes on Facebook, even contempt against those who see things differently during this time of Covid 19 than I do, when in truth, no one really knows the sure way out of this. How far I am from giving grace!
As the old song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” How? Only through submitting to the Spirit of the living Lord in every relationship. The world tries to change things through force, through anger, through power. That was the kind of revolution everyone thought Jesus was bringing. So the Roman soldiers (between 300 and 600) came after Him, armed and angry, expecting a fight.
Jesus asks us to change things by dying to ourselves, by giving grace, by praying for our enemies:
Do not resist an evil person…love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you and persecute you.
A very different kind of revolution.
Upside down from the way the world thinks.
This is our symbol for the week:
Highlight from Last Week:
We are in the last few weeks of a journey that began after Christmas — and I remember wondering at the start who would still be here at this point, and you have been so faithful and steadfast. It’s been so good, and I congratulate you for hanging in there! We didn’t know when we began what we would be facing as a world, but it has been especially sweet in a time of social distancing to come and find you here! Many of you are facing great stress, yet it has caused you to press in instead of backing up. This touched me early on in the week from Chris, who has started a new and stressful job, but is determined to stay with us and also give herself grace in not doing it all “as thoroughly as she would prefer.” I thought this would be good for all of us to hear, not matter your circumstances:
Going from having nothing to do all day but exercise and make dinner to a week of being interviewed, hired, and then working every single day was a shock to my system.
I did follow along with the study, reading, thinking, and listening to sermons, but I do prefer doing the whole thing in an orderly fashion. I need to be reminded that the Lord doesn’t love me less when I am not as thorough as I prefer to be.
- What stands out to you from the above, and why?
- Where do you need to turn from contempt and toward grace, toward living out the upsidedown Kingdom?
Monday: Replacing Contempt
3. Listen to Arthur Brooks above and share your notes and comments.
4. Read Luke 6:20-26
A. Name some of the ways this is a revolutionary approach to life.
B. “The weeping or mourning” refers to truly mourning our sin. How has contempt in your
heart for another hurt you, others, and the name of Christ?
C. It isn’t enough to stop the symptoms of contempt (name-calling, eye-rolling, sarcasm…) We
must replace these behaviors with love, through the Spirit. How might you do this?
Tuesday: Inverted Kingdom
5. Read the opening of Chapter 16 in Keller’s book (The Sword) and share your notes
and comments. (Read up to The First True Revolution)
Wednesday: Am I Leading A Rebellion?
6. Read Mark 14:43-46
A. Who came with Judas and who sent them?
B. How were they armed?
C. Mark says “a crowd,” John says “a troop.” A troop consists of 300-600
soldiers. Why, so many, do you think?
D. What did Judas do? Keller asks, “Why all this subterfuge?” Why do you think?
7. Read Mark 14:46-49
B. What question does Jesus then ask?
C. How are you like Peter?
Thursday: An Inverted Kingdom
8. Read the section in Chapter 16 called “The Inverted Kingdom” and share your notes and comments.
Friday: The Inversion of the Revolution
9. Read Mark 14:48-52
A. Why did everyone desert Jesus?
B. What happened to one man? What might this bring to our remembrance?
10. Read this last section in chapter 16 and share your notes and comments.
11. How might you apply this lesson right now to your life?