The Law of Love

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July 11, 2020 • Beth Guckenberger

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Do you ever disagree with your family, friends, and other Christians? We all do! This weekend, Beth Guckenberger shares how Christians can fulfill the law of love, even when they disagree.

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. - Romans 13:8

Message Transcript

Hey, I'm JR Cifani with the Life Stewards ministry here at the Vineyard, and it's in this ministry that we get to talk about all the ways we worship the Lord with the things we've been given with our time, our strengths and unique talents and our money. And if you've experienced the vineyard church at all, you know, that we love to worship through serving each other.

Through giving financially and even through our prayers for each other. Now this weekend, many of us enjoyed the Unified Cincy prayer walk at Yeatman's cove downtown. Through prayer we learn to make our home in Jesus, no matter what situation we're facing. In Romans 12:12, it says this: be joyful and hope patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. So our staff still gets together online to pray over your prayer requests. And I'd like to invite you again today to share your prayer needs with us. You can go online at the address on your screen vineyardcincinnati.com/prayer requests, or send an email to prayer@vineyardcincinnati.com.

And if you call the vineyard a place of spiritual support in your life, please help this church continue to be a resource for God's work by giving online. Every dollar matters to ensure vineyard Cincinnati continues its work in the city of Cincinnati and well beyond now. Would you please pray with me over our weekend offering?

So Father, we know we do know, that all of the resources and tools you make available for us to worship and to give and to serve and to pray, all those come from you. Father, we're just grateful for all of them. We just ask that you would use the gifts that are given for your plans and your purpose, and we trust you with it all. And it's in Jesus' name that we pray all these things. Amen.

Hello, I'm Brandon Lute of the Facilities team here at Vineyard Cincinnati Church. I'm so glad that you've chosen to worship with us today, and I hope you've been encouraged. This weekend marks just one week from welcoming everyone back into the building where we worship in person once again. Thank you for your patience as we've been meeting to determine what is the best and safest plan for bringing us all together. Visit our website for up to minute details about reopening. Go to vineyardcincinnati.com/together. There you'll find out what our safety protocols will look like. Service times and a place for you to RSVP, to let us know that you can be here. And in case you're not quite comfortable coming back in person, our online services will continue on Facebook and our website. Once again, that's vineyardcincinnati.com/together. See you next weekend. 

Also next weekend, we're excited to have Beth Guckenberger kick off our next message series reckless faith. In fact, here she is with some details about the series and a special invitation to go deeper in community. Vineyard family, we are delighted to share with you that we're going to be kicking off a new series called reckless faith. It'll be a six week deep dive into biblical characters who faced challenging storylines.

They were fully surrendered to what it was that God was going to do. They were expectant that he was going to move. I want to encourage you to join a small group. You can do it either online or in person. It'll be a place where you can process your own journey, where you can together feel challenged with applicable action steps and a place where you can grow and talk about what it looks like for you to live your own reckless faith. I am really looking forward to seeing what God will do when we are faithful and available to his plans. 

If you'd like to know more about the heart of Vineyard Cincinnati Church, visit vineyardcincinnati.com or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Hey Vineyard family. This is the last week I'll be shooting right here in the student union. Starting next week some of you will be with me live in the auditorium, while likely more than half of you will continue to join us online. I wanted to address this week head on the tension, maybe even the fear or anger that surrounds what our choices are.

I think the first time I really put together the relationship between fear and anger, I was sitting in a training over the issue of trauma in my role at back-to-back and the instructor was telling us that anger is a secondary emotion, and I was sitting on top of fear. And he, he just asked casually, have any of you ever lost a child at a grocery store?

And I raised my hand and I said, yeah, I lost my son Josh one time at a grocery store. And I was remembering out loud with the people I was gathered with that when I finally found him over in the banana section, I didn't say to him in my kindest mom voice, Hey, pick out a few to take home. When I finally got my hands on him, when I finally got my eyes on him, I went crazy.

I was, I was so terrified that something was going to happen to him in the few minutes that I lost track of him, that when I got ahold of him, I was just like, What are you doing? I told you to stay right here. Like I was, was crazy and it clicked in my brain that anger and fear have a relationship with each other. Later that same day, Todd and I were having a pretty casual conversation, at first. We were building a house and he asked me what he, what I thought about putting a bathroom in our guest bedroom. We have a lot of longterm missionary guests and he thought it might be nice for them to have a private bath since they will be around for a while. And I was saying to him, no, I don't think they need a bathroom in there.

I think they can just go out in the hall and go to the bathroom out there. And I don't know if this happens to you in your interpersonal relationships or in your marriages, but we started talking about a bathroom, but like a hot second later I was talking about his mother. Right. And we began to fight about whether this bathroom is going to go into this guest bedroom or not.

And he had the wherewithal to remember our training earlier that day. And he said to me, Hey Beth, you sound kind of angry. I'm just wondering what, what are you afraid of? And I stopped and had to take a deep breath. I'm going to be honest with you. And then I said, you know what? I'm, I'm, I'm afraid we can't afford it.

And he got out the spreadsheets and showed me all his numbers. And once I understood that, that wasn't the issue, then I was like, okay, well, great. Thanks for letting me know. I think I'd like some brushed nickel in that bathroom. Right? It got resolved right away because my, the thing I was afraid of got resolved, so the anger had no place to go.

It could dissipate. Now ever since then, we that's the language we use in our household. When I see a child upset or when one of us get upset, we make sure we don't start fighting about how we're fighting or, or make sure our anger matches the anger of the other person in the room instead, we try to get to the heart of the issue and ask each other what, what is it that you're afraid of and how might we resolve that? And I really want to do that because I think we have some big feelings about next week. I think we have big feelings about what's happening in our culture. Are we going back into the world that we once knew, or are we going to stay in an isolated or socially distant setting?

Like we have big feelings and when you have those big feelings, we've got to go to our Bibles and ask what we do with that and what it, how it's going to impact the way that we feel about each other. As a church, we have already enough reasons to divide us. Like we have questions like you know, do we, do we raise our hands or not?

Like, how do we feel about that? Do we drink alcohol or not? How do we feel about the Holy spirit and his gifts? Who are we going to vote for? Are we okay with the changes that have been made in the leadership here or not at vineyard? And now you want to add to it in 2020, are we comfortable with how the church is or isn't addressig injustice. Are we comfortable with how we are coming back to the building? Should we even do that? Are you someone that wants to mask all the time? Are you someone that thinks that masks are ridiculous? Dividing issues are not new to 2020, but we sure seem to have a lot of them right now. And the combination of our sin nature and the enemy attack on the bride, it's caused pain in the church ever since the church was first born, but this is what we can be absolutely sure of: in this world, we have an enemy and he wants us focused on our fears. He wants us divided against ourselves. He wants us to be angry with each other and judgmental of one another. About a month ago, I went to bed and I was asking the Lord for wisdom regarding the church.

I need wisdom in this role. And I I've been asking him for it. It's a good place actually, to be so dependent on him for his leading. As most of you know, I'm only here for a season. The search committee is doing an amazing job looking for your new senior pastor. And I just want to take this like moment, this rabbit trail to really affirm to you how strong and spirit filled I have found your trustee board to be.

I only knew one of them before I came here to serve, but wow, they are encouraging and they are impressive. But anyway, I was, I was going to bed and I was just asking Jesus as I was falling asleep, like speak to me. And I had this prophetic dream that night in the dream, there was a boat that was passing through a lock from one body of water to another. Once, one time I was in Panama and I watched a boat go through the Panama canal and that lock master that lock Tender, that lock keeper has a pretty exacting job. They have to make sure the water levels are at a certain level. And, and there's all kinds of gates and things they open and that, and in the dream, I felt like the Lord said to me, you are the lock Tender.

You are the lock keeper. You were not in the waters where this body has been. And you are not going into the waters where the body is headed. It's your job to just get them from one direction, from one place into another. And that word, that work is exacting. And when I woke up, I, I was, I just got my pen and paper out and I started to reflect on the truth that he shared with me in that dream.

[00:25:20] The first one is that God speaks to us when we ask him to, so we need to be asking him as a church to speak to us. The second thing I thought of is he calls us sometimes to special assignments. For me, this is one of my special assignments, but I'm wondering for you during Covid 19, what's been your special assignment? And this work is exacting the stakes today 2020, they're really high.

We can't like Willy nilly our way through gospel work and kingdom advancement. It requires listening and obeying and perseverance and attention. And that's what I want us to sit in this weekend. I believe he will speak to you and to us as a church, if we ask him to, and I'm asking you to. I believe he has a special assignment for you and for all of us in 2020. Here, you can come to the table and engage, or you can decide you're not up for it, but God isn't surprised by what 2020 has brought to the vineyard.

He's been preparing us and he wants to now release us. I believe if we don't do what God asks, the consequences are devastating. Some of that release you're going to have to tell us about, cause we aren't there at your house where God is asking you to step up and step in. We're not there at your job or in your neighborhood.

You're going to have to testify to us, encourage us with the stories of what God's asking you to. Some of that release, you're going to get, we're going to get a chance to witness cause you'll be serving and praying and giving and sharing. And we're on the front row of that. And we're so excited, but we, we need you.

We need you to serve. We need you to engage. This week we are between the series, the questions Jesus asks, and the series will start next week. I'm really excited about called Reckless Faith. And I want to bring to you a special message for the time that we're in. Paul writes to the church in Rome about issues that were dividing them. For them it wasn't about masks. For them it was about food choices and Sabbath. And circumcision really issues of the law. You had Jews who are been following the law for a long time and Gentiles who didn't even know what the law was and they were commingling and fellowshipping and feeling judgmental of the other.

And we're going to read the whole chapter of Romans 14 and listen to me. One reading will not be enough. I absolutely expect you'll have to reread it many times after church to fully understand what it was that Paul was saying. It was read like a letter. Like I'm going to read it to you, but it's dense.

Anyone who tells you that Romans is easy to understand and breezes right through it, they aren't taking advantage of it in it's entirety. So, so get your Bibles out, open up your Bible apps and follow along as we read Romans 14 together. Verse one: but if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person, it isn't clean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you're no longer acting in love. Do not buy your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let, what you know is good. Be spoken of as evil for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy, and the Holy spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of guide for the sake of in this case. He says food, you can fill in the blank with whatever it is, is the story of our day, do not destroy the work of God for the sake of all food is cleaned, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things. Keep between yourself and God bless it as the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned. If they eat because they're eating is not from faith and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

I know there's a lot in that chapter. Like I said, it's going to be something you'll probably have to reread a few times. Paul was writing to a church with sincerely held differences, which is absolutely okay. We don't have to agree on everything. With varying levels of knowledge, which is to be absolutely expected in a church and with different degrees of conscious sensitivity.

And he was encouraging them to strive more than anything else for oneness in Christ, over insisting on being right or heard. The cause of Jesus and the worth of a soul it must be our most important thing. For the Romans as well as Paul, the point is the same, in matters of conscious personal convictions regarding practices that are neither commanded nor prohibited in the Bible, christians are to follow these standards. One, refrain from judging or condemning believers whose opinions are different from your own. That's the whole first part of that chapter. And refrain from exercising your freedom in ways that would pressure or encourage another believer to sin by going against their own conscience.

That's the second half of that chapter. The bottom line for Paul always has been love. As he said in the chapter before that will be Romans 13, verse eight: 

Romans 14 explains how Christians can fulfill the law of love, even when they disagree, which inevitably we are going to on a whole bunch of things.

So here have been, these are my personal guidelines for leading you in this tricky season of co fellowshipping, commingling co-serving co-advancing of the gospel in the midst of so many different opinions and varying degrees of conscious. First is, there are some gray matters in life. Whether we mask how we use our social media, if we gather, these frankly, are planes that are getting built in the air.

If it's biblically obvious, we will cling to it and shout it from the rooftops. We will not waiver. We will not compromise. I was driving the other day in West Chester and I was coming back from a doctor's appointment and I drive a convertible and I was listening to some music at a stop sign. And there was a guy at the corner who had a Bullhorn. And he was preaching through that Bullhorn to anyone who was stopping at the stoplight. And I was listening to him at the same time. I was listening to my music and all of a sudden something he said caught my ear because he said, if any of you listening to me go to one of those mega churches, and he names several large churches in our city, including vineyard Cincinnati. So now he had my whole attention. He had no idea whose attention he had, but he had it. And he said, if you go to one of those churches and they don't tell you the truth about heaven, They don't tell you the truth about hell, they don't tell you the truth about salvation walk away.

I thought to myself, um, don't totally understand his tactics, but I do agree with this message. Listen to me, that is not a gray matter. If you know Jesus on earth, you're going to know him in heaven, you don't know Jesus on earth, you're not going to know him after you have gone. It's that is those, those kinds of issues.

Those biblically indisputable issues, we will. We will not compromise. I want you to hear that loud and clear. This is not a message about compromise. This is a message about things that are gray, that are outlined in our Bible, that we have certain varying convictions on because of our conscience or our history or a tradition that we were taught.

Or our background or our own sin natures. And we've collected these ideas of things that we think are right or wrong. And I, I just won't let it divide us. I won't let mask wearing or people gathering, I won't let it divide us. That's not how the bride of Christ acts. The second, like principle I've been just using in this season is that not everything is a 10. In my family, we use that language that, especially when in marital conflict, like it started out, like if something on a scale of one to 10, if it's a 10 to Todd, so it was really important to Todd and for me, it's like a five. Like, you can win. I don't want to fight with you about it's a 10 to you. Or something is like a, 10 to me in importance, and it's just like an eight to him. I understand it's really important, but he'll acquiesce. If there's something that's going to elicit like a big reaction in either of us as parents, we tell each other and ourselves, Hey, this is not a 10. Like how much data those kids use this month not a 10. Doesn't reserve it a 10 reaction.

If there were dishes left in the sink overnight, it's not a 10, I don't need to give it a 10 reaction. It feels like in this heightened climate right now, everything is a 10. People are writing their social media posts in all caps with lots of emojis, not everything is a 10. Can we live peaceably with one another, not violating our own conscience, but making it a matter between us and the Lord and not between us and each other.

However, hear me loud and clear that cross it's a 10. Love is a 10. If somebody returned your email with a nuanced language that you don't really appreciate, not a 10. If someone let their kids play in the neighborhood without a mask, not a 10. Paul uses this letter to say to us as practically as he can, whether you're feeling passionate about make sure whatever it is that Jesus said it was important.

If it's just tradition or opinion, don't let it divide you because I know churches aren't perfect places, but it's our privilege to share, to serve, to protect the church. Listen, I like hearing from you, especially in the season when I haven't been able to see you. I've enjoyed every interaction I've had on email or on phone.

Thank you for all the ones of you who have reached out. But I want to be honest with you for this is just honest. For every time I've heard a thank you for the way the church has continued services at the healing center, or thank you for the online devotionals the staff have been providing in this time.

I've probably gotten 10: I can't believe the trustees that were, I don't like how you said this. I am not afraid to challenge. The trustees and staff, they want your feedback and they want to answer your questions, but let's start from a place of loving and protecting the bride of Christ and not approaching it like a Yelp review.

I can tell you this with full assurance, everyone here is working hard to honor the Lord with all of their gifts. So join us. That judging rating reviewing, liking culture. It can't permeate the church. God says we are to love one another. Loving others and honoring God is to take precedence over absolutely everything. If you learn nothing else from the church, the great commission and the great commandment will carry you for a long time. The great commission says go out into the other world, not to judge it, not to join it, to share with it the good news of Jesus Christ. And the great commandment says to love them at great expense to yourself all the time and unconditionally.

That's the way that he loves us. So back to the issues of the day and returning next week to the building, the church has an opportunity. We have an opportunity to model love that places the interest of others above ourselves. Whether you come in and join us in person, or you join us digitally. Be the church, wherever it is that you are. Love one another.

If you find it personally difficult to wear a mask during church thinking the precautions are a needless overreaction and here's the thing, it might turn out that you're right. Would you be willing to just sacrifice for a season? Out of love for others who believe that these precautions are necessary.

Could we just do that for one another? And if you personally think it's silly or even some of you might think it's cowardly for someone to stay home after the church opens up again next week, can you remember what we just read in Romans 14? Let us not pass judgment on one another, any longer, but rather let's decide never to put a stumbling book or a hindrance in the way of a brother.

None of us should assume we've arrived at how to do this well, let's just model humility to one another and to the world by acknowledging that everything's not obvious and that it's our responsibility, our privilege to listen, to pray, to ask the Lord, what's my assignment, to expect to hear his voice, to obey and to manage the lock between the waters of where it is that we've come from and where it is that he's leading us. To tender that lock with caution and carefulness to understand the privilege of what it is in this season, where he's remolding us, remaking us, restoring us. Redesigning redeeming. That's that's the work he's in the middle of. If we just spend all of our energy convinced that we're right, and everyone else is crazy, we miss the opportunity.

We miss the chance to fellowship. We miss. We miss out on so much and you know, I wouldn't, I can't let you go without teaching you a Hebrew word. There's this Hebrew phrase that has captured my heart for many years now. 

God's design is to use us created in his image to act as ambassadors and priests in this world to literally make straight that which was once crooked. There are some famous examples of people who've embraced this idea to, to see something that's broken and crooked and to work towards straightening out. Think like mother Teresa, but lately there's been a hero of the faith that I've been thinking about his choices and what it costs him and how his example is inspiring to me of what it, what it looked like to see something that was broken and to do everything he could to repair it, because we are, we have a broken world right now. We have a world hurting and crying out, and it's we have the opportunity to, to put our hands to the repair of it in Jesus name.

There's a man named Dr. Janusz Korczak. He was a pediatrician from Poland. He was practicing medicine and he was a children's author and he was very well known. And in addition to all those things that he was up to in Poland, he also in 1912, started something called the orphan society. It was really ahead of its time.

He had about 200 children. And in those days they would have more like warehoused them, just bed after bed, after bed. But he knew as a pediatrician that children do much better when they have the opportunity to live in family units and create healthy attachment with each other. So that's what he did in his orphan society.

And they lived and served that way for many, many years. And then in 1939, Poland was occupied and they eventually moved all these Jewish children into a ghetto. And he decided if those children had to live in the ghetto, even though he didn't have to, he would join them there. And on August 5th, 1942, there was a knock at the door.

There was A Nazi officer who came and took the 12 staff, the 200 children and Dr. Korczak to a concentration camp. He told them, um, as they, as he announced to the children, they were going to go on a trip. He said, put your best clothes on. I want you to bring your favorite toy or your favorite book on this journey.

They got to the edge of the concentration camp. One of the officers there at the gate recognized Dr. Korczak as the author of his child's favorite children's book. And he said to him, Hey, you don't have to go in. If you just help us get the children in I'll make sure that you and your life gets spared. And the last thing that we know that Dr.

Korczak said, he said to that officer at the gate, he said, you don't leave a child in distress. And then he went on. He was modeling. He was modeling God's heart. God's asking us to do the same thing. He's saying to us, don't leave the lost. Don't leave the least of these in distress. Don't walk away from this world, judging it for it's crooked roads and said, put your hand to the repair, reach out, spend yourself on others.

Ask him to speak to you, ask him to lead you, say yes to special assignments, die to yourself. No matter what the cost is, be humble. Serve. That, that's our assignment in this time. That's what God's asking of us and it is going to cost us. It's going to cost us. For whatever we have to do inside our spirit to be comfortable with people in fellowship that don't agree with us and that we don't agree with. It's going to cost us on the outside as we put our hands to the work that God has already prepared in advance for us to do. But I believe church with all my heart, the very best days are ahead for us. I believe that as we walk through this season, God will strengthen us. He will fill us.

He will renew and revive us. I think that there are good things coming and I'm grateful to be with you in this journey. Let's pray. Jesus, thank you for who you are. Thank you this has always been your story that you look at crooked roads and you call your church to put their hand to it, to repair or straighten the things that are crooked, wherever it is that you're asking the Vineyard to engage Lord individually in our houses, in our neighborhoods, in our jobs or together collectively as a body in the city, may we put our hand to it, And may we trust you for it next week as we come together in, in multiple locations, digitally around the city, as well as physically here on campus. Lord, would you teach us what it looks like to fellowship with one another to open the word together with one another, to worship with one another to challenge one another to serve alongside of each other, teach us what it looks like to look like your body, the world is looking at us, wondering if we're any different. May they know who we are by the way that we love one another and love them Lord Jesus, we trust you for the energy, wisdom and the power to do that. And I pray these things in your Holy and precious name. Amen. 

Thanks for joining us for vineyard Cincinnati church, where for over 30 years, we've believed that small things, done with great love will change the world.

Vineyard Cincinnati is open to everyone, no matter what your thoughts are about God or church, and whether you're new to church or have been around it your whole life. You're in good company with those of us who are exploring who God is or rediscovering what church can be. If you've enjoyed this service and want to know more about us simply text the word, VINE to 97000 to share your details. And someone will be in touch real soon. It's that easy.