Politics of Jesus 2018

Politics of Jesus| Preemptive Love

Jesus tells us to take a posture of anticipatory empathy instead of retaliatory violence. Jesus ends his Sermon on the Mount by telling us to take what he's say and do it.

This Week's Action Step: 

What’s something Jesus said to do that you’re not doing?

Do it.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

  • Jesus teaches the Golden Rule, meaning he teaches us to take a posture of anticipatory empathy instead of retaliatory violence.
  • What the world really needs Christians to do is take what Jesus said and do it.


  • We mentioned that Jesus didn’t make up the Golden Rule; it’s found in various ancient religions.
    • Does it bother you that Jesus uses ideas that are not original to him? Ideas that are found in other religions before Jesus said them?
  • I said that if we believe all humans are created in the image of God, and that God has always tried to make his truth known to all people, we should expect other religions to have some truth, and should celebrate it instead of feeling threatened by it.
    • Do you agree or disagree?
  • In teaching the Golden Rule, Jesus replaces a posture of retaliatory violence with a posture of anticipatory empathy.
    • Do you think that you tend to walk the world conditioned to retaliating defensively, or that you walk the world conditioned to anticipate with empathy?
    • What are some ways you like to be treated, and what are some ways you can treat SPECIFIC people in your life that way?
  • Jesus said the Golden Rule was the summation of all of Scripture.
    • How does it change the way you relate to the Bible to know that the goal of all Scripture is to turn you into somebody who treats others the way you would want others to treat you?
  • I said our biggest problem is not that we need more information; our biggest problem is that we don’t do what Jesus said.
    • Why do we think more information will solve our problems?
    • What is something that you know Jesus has told you to do that you’re not doing? Be specific.
    • Why aren’t you doing it? How can you do it?

Songs from Today

Spirit Move by Amanda Cook and Kalley Heiligenthal

Faithful To The End by Brian Johnson, Hannah McClure, Joel Taylor, and Paul McClure

Never Stop by Chris Franz and Mariah McManus

O Praise The Name (Anástasis) by Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher, and Marty Sampson

Yes And Amen by Anthony Brown, Chris McClarney, and Nate Moore

Politics of Jesus| Gotta Serve Somebody

Jesus seeks to dispossess us of our status and stuff so that we can be people who are free from anxiety. Because if we want to be free of anxiety, we must become people who have nothing to lose.

This Week's Action Step: 

Let the birds and flowers teach you to trust.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

·      Jesus tells us that we cannot serve God and wealth.

·      Jesus ties wealth and anxiety together by suggesting that our desire for status and stuff often creates our anxiety.


·      I suggested that we have really softened the NT teaching on wealth.

o   The NT, taken as a whole, has a very negative attitude toward wealth, seeing wealth in and of itself as a problem, whereas we like to think that wealth is OK so long as we have the proper attitude toward it.

o   Do you think that we’ve softened the NT teaching on wealth so that we, as relatively speaking, mostly very wealthy people, can justify our wealth?

·      Read Proverbs 30:8-9.

o   What do you think of this prayer? That God neither make us poor nor rich?

·      How many of you struggle with anxiety? What, specifically?

·      In what ways has technology made us more anxious?

·      Jesus connects status and stuff with anxiety, suggesting that it’s only once we’re freed from status and stuff that we’re also freed from our anxiety.

o   If you want to be free from anxiety, you must become somebody who has nothing to lose.

o   What is Jesus asking you to give up, to give away, to do, or to stop doing that might free you from your anxiety?

Songs from Today

This Is Amazing Grace by Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle, and Phil Wickham

I Will Exalt by Amanda Falk

Blessed Assurance by Mack Brock and Chris Brown

What A Beautiful Name by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood

Your Love Is Strong by Jon Foreman

Politics of Jesus| Eliminating Our Enemies

Jesus overturns the OT law of mandatory retribution and replaces it with a teaching of non-violent resistance. Jesus teaches us how to live gently in a violent world, embracing a peaceable posture, not because it "works" but because it is faithful.

This Week's Action Step: 

Pray for an enemy every day this week. 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

·      Jesus overturns the OT teaching of mandatory retribution.

·      Jesus teaches that we aren’t to respond to violence with violence.

·      Jesus tells us to love even our enemies.


·      In overturning the OT teaching of lex talionis, Jesus teaches us something important about reading the Bible.

o   Jesus is free to overturn OT teachings because Scripture is an unfolding story wherein the true will of God is being progressively revealed, and Jesus perfectly reveals the will of God.

o   To say that another way, the Bible is not a flat book, and what that means is that while all Scripture is authoritative, all Scripture is not equally authoritative.

o   How does that effect the way you read the Bible? What questions do you have about it?

·      When it comes to interpreting Jesus’s radical condemnation of violence, we said there are two ways to interpret it: non-violent resistance (resist to the point of killing) and just war (violence is almost always wrong).

o   I’m gonna make a case for both, and then I want you to argue with me…

§  Non-violence: It’s the clear biblical teaching, regardless of how hard it is for us to accept. Jesus and Paul clearly teach it. The early church knew that and embraced it. Is it realistic? Does it work? Well that’s not really our call. We’re not non-violent because it works; we’re non-violent because Jesus told us to be. That aside, yea it does work just as well if not better than violence because where has all the violence gotten us?

§  Just war: We can’t be so literal. Sure, we should do everything we can to avoid violence, but sometimes we have no choice. We have a right to self-defense and a responsibility to defend others.

·      Regardless where you land, there’s a remarkable middle ground: all Christians should agree that violence is never ideal and almost always wrong.

o   Do you think Christians have been far too quick to use violence? Why?

o   How would the teachings of Jesus and Paul affect the way Christians think about war and law enforcement?

o   What does a consistent pro-life stance look like? Does it make sense to be against abortion and for capital punishment?

·      Matthew 5:44 tells us that we have to love our enemies.

o   Who are our enemies?

§  Name some personal ones and then some general ones.

o   What would it look like for us to love them?

Songs from Today

The Lion And The Lamb by Brenton Brown, Brian Johnson, and Leeland Moorin

King Of My Heart by John Mark McMillan and Sarah McMillan

Starlight by Amanda Cook, Bobby Strand, Brian Johnson, and Lindsey Strand

Great Are You Lord by Steve Cook and Vikki Cook

Brother by David Gungor, Ian Cron, and John Arndt


Politics of Jesus| Ecosystem of Peace

We live in an angry world. We think we need our anger. But Jesus calls the church to be a space of radical reconciliation where former enemies become friends.

This Week's Action Step: 

Settle Matters Quickly


Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

·      Jesus has asked us to be a community of peace in an angry world.

·      Peace is not just avoiding anger, but it is pursuing reconciliation.


 When is the last time you were really angry?

 A recent study shows that half of Americans are angrier today than they were a year ago.

 Why do you think that is? Why are we getting angrier?

I said anger is a substitute emotion, meaning when something happens that causes us pain, we’ll substitute the pain we feel for anger because we would rather feel angry than sad.

Have you experienced that to be true in your life? Name an instance.

We noted that the goal of Jesus’s teaching here is not about avoiding anger but about aggressively pursuing reconciliation.

Why is it important to keep this big picture in mind? To keep in mind that the goal is a community of radical reconciliation and not just a community that avoids anger?

Name a person you are angry with and a person who is angry with you.

How can you take steps toward reconciliation with those people?

Songs from Today

Faithful To The End by Brian Johnson, Hannah McClure, Joel Taylor, and Paul McClure

Mercy by Amanda Cook and Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger

Jesus We Love You by Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, and Paul McClure

Miracles by Chris Quilala, Dustin Smith, Joshua Silverberg, and Stuart Garrard

O Come To The Altar by Christopher Brown, Mack Brock, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

Politics of Jesus| Beauty Will Save the World

As the salt of the earth and light of the world, the church cannot be bland or hidden. Our strategy to transform the world isn't the power of our arguments or condemnation, but the power of our love.

This Week's Action Step: 

Do something kind for someone you know doesn't know Jesus.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:



·      Third week of our series, The Politics of Jesus…walking through the Sermon on the Mount.

·      This week we discussed Matthew 5:13-20, though really just verses 13-16.


Big Ideas

·      Jesus tells us his expectations for us by using a couple of metaphors: you are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.

·      Jesus tells us we cannot be bland and we cannot blend in.

·      The power of Christian faith is not found in the strength of our arguments or condemnations, but in the beauty of our lives.


Small Group Questions

  • I said the goal of Christianity is becoming fully alive, not not sinning.
    • Do you agree with that, and if so, why might that be an important distinction to make?
  • We talked about the temptation to blend in and be like everybody else—to be nice and love Jesus, but still pursue the American Dream and spend our time and money however we want, and not take Christianity too seriously because it might ruin our good time.
    • In what ways do you, as a Christian, feel the temptation to blend in and be like everybody else?
  • Have you ever thought about how much human conscience has changed because of Jesus? That things like exposing infants and killing inconvenient people used to be normal and now, because of Jesus they’re not normal?
  • The power of Christianity is not the power of exclusion, violence, or shame. Our power is not the force of our arguments or condemnations, but the beauty of our love.
    • What are some things we could do to make the beauty of Christian faith more apparent to the world?
    • How does understanding that the power of the church is found in love instead of exclusion or shame affect the way we practice

Songs from Today

Glory To Glory - Lauren Evans, Rick Seibold, and William Matthews

Ever Be - Bobby Strand, Chris Greely, Gabriel Wilson, and Kalley Heiligenthal

Reckless Love - by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, and Ran Jackson

How Beautiful - Andres Figueroa, Jonathan Smith, and Mariah McManus

Beautiful - Philip Wickham

Politics of Jesus| Blessed

God's plan to heal the world is not a Christian nation but a Christian church. Jesus's church embodies a new world order where even the "un-blessable" are blessed.

This Week's Action Step: 

Spend more time praying than you do watching the news


Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

·      Our belief that America is a Christian nation has made it easy for us to confuse being an American with being a Christian.

·      As Christians, our primary sphere of political activism and allegiance is the church and not the government.

·      The Beatitudes speak to the surprising kinds of people who are blessed in God’s kingdom.


·      So in Matthew 5:1-2, we read that the disciples leave the crowd to go and join Jesus on the mountain, and I suggested that we have a hard time understanding how severe this call to leave the crowd and join the community that is following Jesus is, because we’ve assumed that America is a Christian nation, and so we’ve also assumed that to be American is to be Christian.

o   So what do you think? Is America a Christian nation? And does the belief that America is a Christian nation make it easy to confuse being an American with being a Christian.

·      Along those lines, I suggested that thinking of America as a Christian nation cn make it easy to us to treat governmental politics as the center of Christian activity and allegiance, when the church should actually be the center of our political activity and allegiance.

o   What do you think about that? Do you agree? What are the implications?

·      Also along those lines, what do you think it would look like for us to transform our passion for a particular political party into a passion for the church?

·      During the sermon I suggested that many of us have far too vested an interest in being conservative or progressive and it has hindered our ability to be faithful

o    Do you agree?

·      Transitioning to the Beatitudes, how does it change the way you read them to realize they are not suggestions, but are rather proclamations of blessing upon people the world says are not blessed?

·      What can you/we do to help Vista become a place where we bless the kinds of people the world forgets and insults?

Songs from Today

Love Goes On by Joel Davies, Hannah Hobbs, and Laura Toggs

Only King Forever by Mack Brock, Chris Brown, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

On & On by Yancy

Yes And Amen by Anthony Brown, Chris McClarney, and Nate Moore

All The Poor And Powerless by Leslie Jordan and David Leonard

Politics of Jesus| Followers of Jesus, Citizens of an Empire

Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, a provocatively political act. Jesus asks us for an allegiance that transcends all earthly allegiances.

This Week's Action Step: 

Say the Lords Prayer each morning as a Pledge of Allegiance to Jesus


Small Group

Small Group Questions:

-During the sermon we noted that when Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom, it was a very politically charged act because he was essentially challenging Caesar’s claim to rule the world. In fact, one of the most persistent themes in the NT is Jesus’s kingship over and conflict with all the rulers of the world.

            -Have you ever noticed how political Jesus was?

-“The gospel of Jesus Christ is more political than anyone imagines, but in a way that no one guesses.”

            -What do you think Peterson means?

-When it comes to faith and politics, I noted that we’ve fluctuated between two extremes: we turn Jesus into a political mascot or we turn him into this non-political, private, personal savior who only talked about private spirituality.

            -Why do you think we’ve done that?

            -Which extreme do you gravitate toward?

            -What are the problems with either of these extremes?

-We distinguished between patriotism and nationalism.

            -Patriotism is a love for your country.

            -Nationalism is a love for your country mutates into an ultimate allegiance to your country and a belief that your country is superior, infallible, and ordained to rule the world in the name of God.

            -So how do we make sure our love for our country doesn’t mutate into an unhealthy belief in the superiority and God-favored-ness of our country?

-In what ways can your allegiance to America compete with your allegiance to Christ?


Songs from Today

This Is Amazing Grace by Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle, and Phil Wickham

Heroes by Amanda Cook, Jason Ingram, and Paul Mabury

10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord) by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman

It Is Well by Horatio Gates Spafford, Kristene DiMarco, and Philip Paul Bliss

Your Great Name by Michael Neale and Krissy Nordhoff