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Removing Ourselves from a Violent World

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Removing Ourselves from a Violent World
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
3 March 2013
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Luke 13:1-9
Acts 3:1-26

We have talked about the fact that our living as peacemaking children of God is not a sometimes situation, such as during the Lenten season; it is for every day of the year.
 
It is a way of life that is completely attuned to God.
 
And even though we still abide in this world, we are no longer a part of the violent and sinful ways of the world, for we are citizens of heaven, and live according to the heavenly will of God.
 
We often find that people who are of the world, or at least have one foot in the world, try to trip us up or distract us, as a way of trying to justify their own ungodly lifestyles, just as they did Jesus in Luke 13:1-9.

1. Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

The first thing we have to remember is that the entire sacrificial system, killing and the shedding of blood, are all a part of this fallen world, and was never a part of God’s creation intent or heavenly will.
 
We have to think and respond to all worldly things in heavenly terms as Jesus did.

2. And He answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate?
 
3. "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

We hope we all see and understand the way that Jesus didn’t allow Himself to get embroiled in discussing anything about the fate of the Galileans, or those who killed them.
 
Instead He responds to them directly and warns them that if they don’t repent they will perish just like the Galileans did.
 
Note also that He says nothing about their having to offer any sacrifice as part of their repentance; He wants them to repent of all worldly ways.
 
Then Jesus gives them another example.

4. "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 
 
5. "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." 

And again He calls them to repentance, so they won’t likewise perish as those in Siloam did. He is also telling them that the Bible is filled with all kinds of violent worldly situations that we are to no longer be a part of, other than to recognize them and learn from the fact that we are no longer to be a part of them.

6. And He began telling this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any.

The fig tree is an example of sinful Israel and all its people who are bringing forth no Godly fruit.

7. "And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?'

We often wonder if Jesus’ telling of the three years is referring to His three years of ministry without seeing the vast majority of Israelites come to repentance, particularly the religious leadership who, if they lived in the will of God, could lead many more to God.

8. "And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer;
 
9. and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.' " 
NASB

This is the way God is looking at this largely unrepentant world today that is filled with violence and bloodshed, which day after day further corrupts creation, instead of its people freeing it from its present corruption as peacemaking children of God.
 
And don’t forget that the peacemaking children of God don’t make any distinction between humans and animals when it comes to freeing them from their pain, suffering, and the corruption of this world.
 
It doesn’t matter who needs our help; if we see a need and/or an injustice, we are to do our best to fulfill the need and correct the injustice.
 
Such was the case with Peter and John after the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Note what we are told in Acts 3:1-26.

1. One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer- at three in the afternoon.

Note that the religious leaders had formalized prayer into certain times of the day instead of something that should be a part of our spiritual connection with God, which should be continual.

2. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.

This man was obviously in need, and many would consider it an injustice for him to have been this way from birth, just as breeding animals to suffer all their lives in factory farms and laboratories to satisfy human greed is an injustice and corruption of God’s heavenly will. Note what Peter and John say and do.

3. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.
 
4. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!"
 
5. So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
 
6. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

They didn’t give him money, which only satisfies the immediate need without bringing about relief; instead, they prayed for him with the conviction of knowing that the Lord would heal him.

7. Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong.
 
8. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

If only we could do this for all of the suffering humans and animals in this world! And we often feel very inadequate when we don’t get the immediate results we hoped for, but we never stop trying.
 
And these are the kinds of things that this Lenten season is all about.

9. When all the people saw him walking and praising God,
 
10.  they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Why all the amazement and wonder? Because this is the way that the world looks at the miracles of God, and His answered prayers. Instead they should have been praising God like the healed man.

11. While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade.
 
12. When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?

This is the problem with most sinful and wicked people in the world; they work against God’s heavenly will, and fail to see the Lord working right in their midst. So Peter responds…

13. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus. You handed Him over to be killed, and you disowned Him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.
 
14. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
 
15. You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

Peter is reminding them of the evil things they have done, then talks about the way of God.

16. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through Him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
 
17. "Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.
 
18. But this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Christ would suffer.
 
19. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
 
20. and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus.
 
21. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.
 
22. For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything He tells you.
 
23. Anyone who does not listen to Him will be completely cut off from among his people.'  
 
24. "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.
 
25. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.'  
 
26. When God raised up His Servant, He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."
NIV

And the Lord is still trying to do the same thing for the world today, but the vast percentages of the people are rejecting Him just as they did 2,000 years ago.
 
Being healed and free from the corruption and violence of this world is not something we can pick and choose from like the selection on a restaurant menu; this is an all or nothing package.
 
To be healed and free from the corruption, we need to repent of all of our past sins and worldly ways.
 
We need to ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit, and strengthen us so that we can truly and forever turn away from the corrupt and violent ways of this world, and become the peacemaking children of God, who will help free the whole of creation from its present corruption for the benefit of every other human being and other animal.
 
This is the only way we are going to be able to remove ourselves from this violent and wicked world.
 
Amen.