Bonus Content from October 20th and 27th

See below for responses to sermon questions from the past two weeks.

 

October 20th – 1 Peter 3:8-22

You said there is no room for counterpunching in the Christian faith. Does that mean that acting in self-defense is off-limits for the Christian?

There is a difference between acting in self-defense and acting in vengeance. The attitude I described in the sermon is the latter: “you hit me, I’ll hit back harder. I’ll make you regret ever messing with me.” The Christian is called to leave vengeance in God’s hands (Rom. 12:19).

As for self-defense, the answer here may not be as obvious as it seems. When it comes to physical attacks, Jesus tells us how to respond, and it doesn’t involve self-defense (Mt. 5:38-39). This may become more biblically complicated when there are complicating factors involved. For example, when there is reason to believe that allowing someone to get away with hurting us will enable them to go on hurting others, we may act in defense of the vulnerable (Ex. 22:2-3). And just as slaves are called to avail themselves of freedom if the opportunity presents itself (1 Cor. 7:21), vulnerable people under attack do well to avail themselves of the opportunity to remove themselves from those situations.

When it comes to verbal attacks, which was the sort of attack pictured in our scripture text, Jesus sometimes spoke in his own defense (Mk. 3:22-30) and sometimes did not (Lk. 23:9). However, as our text reminds us, he never took vengeance into his own hands and never repaid evil for evil.

 

Counterpunching: so what is the proper technique in light of the Gospel to teach my preschooler being bullied, or an adult in an abusive situation?

For the adult in an abusive situation, based on the scriptural reasoning above, it is well within one’s rights to avail oneself of the opportunity to remove himself or herself from the abusive situation and get help. Our legal system provides that opportunity, and the pastors at North Sub can be a resource in helping navigate that process. What’s off limits (based on this passage) is for the abuse victim to be vindictive or seek vengeance for what has been done to him or her.

The preschooler being bullied lacks the developmental capacity to understand the nuances of how allowing bullying is likely to affect others (not just oneself). As such, we do well as parents to teach them concrete strategies – walking away instead of fighting back; using firm, clear words (“no; don’t push me”); finding a teacher to get help. Still, even at early ages, we can start to name the seeds of vengeance and payback that exist in our hearts, pointing them to a different way in Jesus.
 
 

October 27th – 1 Peter 4:1-6

Where does the Bible say that no one has or will reach a sinless life this side of Heaven?

1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Galatians 3:10 says, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them,’” the first part of which ceases to make sense if there is someone who does abide by all things written in the book of the law. See also 1 Kings 8:46, Proverbs 20:9, and Ecclesiastes 7:20.

 

I was taught from a young age that as newborn Christians, we are still imperfect and will still fall into sin, but that God will forgive us because we have Christ in our life. Is that correct, or did I get the wrong message?

That is correct, and we might even add to it that this is true not only of newborn Christians but of all Christians. “Because we have Christ in our life” is the part we need to be sure we understand rightly. God promises to forgive us not because we prayed a prayer accepting him into our hearts one time, but rather because we have turned from sin and turned to Christ as our Lord and Savior. That turn is accompanied by the replacement of our heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36) and a new status by which we are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:4).