Sunday, October 08, 2006

My 1st Sermon on blog...

Spent the most of last week preparing for my sermon, which I delivered today as part of my Sunday class training in church. This is the 2nd time I delivered a sermon. The 1st time was in the church's Young Preacher's competition sometime last month. (where I got axed in the 1st round. Haha)

Thanks to all the people who helped me in the crafting out of the message. (I received good comments in regards to the content itself.) The people who helped are, in no order of merit: Juni, Joshua Chu, Kenneth Loh, Shishan, Sophia Tan, Theresa Seetoh, Huiling, Ailing, Hong Pin, Denise, Jiahui, Kelly, and Pastor Jeffery (although I din manage to talk to him in the end. Heehee)

Hope I din miss anybody out...

I delivered my sermon in class this morning and after that allowed the rest of the class to critic my sermon.

Good Points about my sermon:
Very good content (from Ps Seng Lee leh!!)
Interesting delivery
Excellent one-liners (from PS Hee Jhee)
Good projection in voice.
Effort put in is evident (from Ps Seng Lee also...)
Examples are great and relevent

Points to be improved: (all from PS Seng Lee...)
Reading from paper...
Posture/ body language
re-state important/ good points
Need to link the intro and main points
Conclusion fell flat

Ok, for those who have time to spare, can read the sermon that I spend the last week preparing. Feel free to leave comments if you have any. Thanks!!

George W Bush announced earlier this morning:

“The United States of America will, from this very moment onwards, stop all her offenses against Al Qaeda and the terrorists. From today onwards, we will allow them to bomb us, cut off our heads and kill us. We will not retaliate, and neither will we run away. We will pray for them. And they have done all their killings, they will realize that they are in the wrong, and we will win the war.

Because we believe that the strongest offense is to have no defense.”

How many of you think that that was not true and I made it up?

Ya, its not true. But turn with me to Matthew Chapter 5 verse 38 – 48

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

In those few verses, Jesus told us not to resist an evil person, to love our enemies and be perfect. Because our heavenly Father is perfect.

In the verse, the Greek verb for resist comes from the root word ‘stasis’, which means ‘violent rebellion’ or ‘armed revolt’. And Jesus showed us how not to do it. Turn the other cheek, give him more than he asked for, and do not turn away anyone who wants to borrow money from you. These are all the examples that Jesus gave. But when I talked all the people around me. And they all had reservations as to how literal are we to take this verses.

In other words, do we really let them strike the other cheek?

Of all the strategies of battles and wars, there is none as simple and effective as this:

That the best defense is a strong offense.

Meaning to say, in a battle, the best form of defense one can have to attack the enemy with a strong offense.
But I suspect that Jesus preached other wise, that to advance the kingdom of God, the best offense is no defense.

Let me give you some examples:

In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. unwittingly became the leader of the American Civil Rights movement. At that time, the Blacks in America have no civil rights whatsoever in the country. They are not allowed to go to restaurants, toilets or even churches meant for white people. And Martin Luther King Jr fought for the rights of these people. He took the teachings of Jesus literally when He said “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

And this is how he fought his war. Day and night, he and his followers endured beatings, jail terms and even death threats for the cause they believed in. During the entire time, King and his men took all the evil thrown to them without hitting back. Many had died during that time, eventually including King himself.

One thing that one of his followers said summed up their whole belief: ‘I will let them kick me and kick me until they have kicked all hatred out of themselves and into my own body where I will transform it into love.’ This is how they fought the war.

But in 1965, they finally won the war. And the blacks became equal citizens in America with equal rights to vote.

Gandhi, too, used the same methods to free half a billion Indians from British rule in the early 1900s. He too took the words of Jesus literally when he read the verses that was shared.

When asked about his interpretation of the verse, he said this:

"I suspect he (Jesus) meant you must show courage - be willing to take a blow, several blows, to show that you will not hit back or turn aside. And when you do that, it calls on something in human nature, something that makes his hated decrease and his respect increase... and I have seen it work"

Of course, I believe that when Jesus talked about these things, they are far from being passive and resigned responses to violence and injustice. Neither do we suffer senseless violence without any reason or purpose.

Jesus himself responded firmly to an unjust blow to the face in John 18:22—23. When he is being questioned by the High Priest, an officer strikes him. Jesus responds by saying ‘If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?

Being struck on the cheek, being sued for your shirt, All these are examples of humiliation, of someone being stripped of their dignity. Jesus taught that We shouldn’t avenge our ‘honour’ — that by freely offering our other cheek or offering our inner shirt, we show that we are secure in our status before God and therefore do not value human honour. At the same time, this response forces the aggressor, to see the dignity of his victim. The aggressor’s power trip is rendered meaningless when what he demands is offered freely. The victim’s dignity is restored and at the same time the aggressor is shown the injustice of his actions. Then they are given a choice whether to continue or cease their violent behaviour. This model offers a way of breaking out of the cycle of violent relationships. It also gives power to the powerless and gives a chance for repentance to the oppressor.

We all demand justice, for it is right of God. Justice that law gives is a punishment. But Justice that love gives is a surrender

I know I have shared something that is immensely difficult. Even as I speak, The US is preparing to go to war to N Korea, Thailand just witness a coup and the rest of the world is still fighting the war against terrorists.

But we can be the change that we want to see in the world. We can start with ourselves. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” I know this is something that is not easy. In fact, it is very difficult. CS Lewis said “Forgiveness is a swell idea, until you have somebody that you have to forgive.” But God says love your enemies. Because God loves them. For He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. So we must love them as God loves them.

Jesus gave us a clue in the last part of the verse: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” By our own strength, it is impossible. But with God, everything is possible. We love because He 1st loved us, and gave us the strength to love. Therefore, we can look to God for strength and wisdom, to show us how we can love our enemies.

Abraham Lincoln, the great American president said this: “Am I not destroying my enemies when I made friends of them?”

Who is your enemies? Who do you find it hardest to love? We all need to look deep into our hearts with full honesty to find those that we find difficult to love, or even those we self-righteously enjoy hating. They may be your tyrant boss, your evil colleagues, your wicked teachers, your irritating relatives, or even your loud and noisy neighbours. These are the people around us that we cannot imagine changing. These are our greatest enemy.

Now you have heard the message. God’s call is for us to love our enemies. Is there an enemy in your life that you need to love? Is there somebody that you need to forgive? Come and repent. And ask for God’s strength for you to love them.


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