Hope Always Chooses Love
Topic: Sunday Message Verse: Mark 3:1–3:6, 1 Corinthians 13:4–13:8
Another Intense Showdown
As we've seen in our journey with Jesus through the Gospel of Mark, Jesus' mission of hope ruffled the religious establishment of His day because He didn't play by their rules. "Intense showdown." That feels vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? It seems like we've been living through one long intense showdown these days, where what started as a national health crisis back in March has now been replaced by a clash of partisan politics. Fear has now been taken over by anger.
Now while today's passage was not written primarily to address how we should navigate the present landmines of partisan politics amidst a global pandemic, we still need to pay attention because it does involve Jesus and His timeless mission of hope that still rings true regardless of the era.
Mark 3:1-6 NIV
1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” 4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Jesus, angry and deeply disturbed
Beyond the miracle itself, we read that Jesus "looked around at them in anger, and was deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.” It crushed Him to see these religious leaders who were so entrenched in their own stubbornness, that out of a lack of love they would rather stay committed to their own point of view than to do the right thing.
They were so stubborn that they even plotted murder before they would admit they were wrong. Once your heart is gripped by stubborn pride, you’ll find yourself doing lots of things that make no sense at all and are completely inconsistent with your professed convictions, values, and beliefs.
Hope Always Chooses Love
That’s what this intense showdown was all about—Jesus wanting to do good on the Sabbath for someone else out of love versus a group of people so stubbornly entrenched in their own sense of rightness that the wellbeing of others was their very last concern. This passage is about Jesus taking on a bully--a bully that had created a loveless climate of religious fear that kept others from experiencing genuine faith in God. So did Jesus get angry? Yes, he got angry but He did so because “Hope Always Chooses Love.”
“If Jesus looked into your heart right now, what would He see?”
Would He be moved by your compassion or would He be disturbed by your stubbornness? Would He see someone who’s trying to act in love and consider the needs of others or would He see someone who’s entrenched in their own sense of rightness and unwilling to consider anyone else?
Now it's great that our church is filled with people who have strong convictions. So the answer isn't that we don’t care about anything. No, go ahead and be passionate. Let's just make sure that our passion doesn’t turn into poison. Because passion without a love for others leads to the very kind of prideful stubbornness that angered Jesus and deeply disturbed His heart. First and foremost, hope always chooses love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
"So when can we get back to church?" As we think and pray this through, we’re going to do our best (by the grace of God) to make sure that our plans take into consideration these three factors:
(1) Your Needs
Your needs matter and we know this has been a hard season. You miss being in your place with your people. Know that we feel a sense of urgency to get back together and we’re doing our best to make that happen as soon and as safe as possible.
(2) Our Mission
Here at Hopevale we are a community of grace and truth inviting people to know and follow Jesus. That hasn’t stopped. We never pushed pause. We're still worshipping, we're still connecting, and we're still serving. It's been great to hear several wonderful flood relief stories of many in our church rolling up their sleeves and loving their neighbor in real and practical ways.
(3) Everyone's Wellbeing
We're called to honor the governmental authorities that God has sovereignly put into place, but you need to know that our church leadership will always recognize God as our ultimate authority. And if we ever felt like that was being threatened or that our freedom to worship was being taken away from us, we would resist and choose God first. Having said that, we don’t feel like that’s what’s going on right now. No, the main reason we’re not fully back yet is not because of manmade law, but rather because of Christlike love and the consideration of everyone’s wellbeing. To be honest, this is especially challenging for us as a larger church with a multigenerational congregation, filled with diverse personalities and perspectives. And we so we'll look to God for His wisdom as we put a practical plan into place that considers all three of these factors, built upon a hope that always chooses love.