Pastors, Bible Study Leaders, Educators:
Would you give me a few minutes of your reading time?
Briefly explore a sample lesson of a new Christ-centered, Bible study, The Life of Christ. This 54 week study will enrich the spiritual life of your congregation. It offers a wide variety of great resources and visual aids from the Internet. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
Blessings to you this day.
Ed Markquart, Author of this website.
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Reconcile; Making up is Hard to do.
we continue our Lenten Series of dialogue sermons on the Sermon on
the Mount which is found in Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7. Again,
these are some of the oldest teachings of Jesus that we have in the
gospel. These are teachings about practical, everyday living. These
are not doctrinal teachings but “down to earth” teachings.
The title of the
sermon for all students in grades 5-9 is:
John and Ed
Making Up Is Hard To
The title is, Making
Up Is Hard To Do.” The text is Matthew 5:21-26.
This sermon tonight is a difficult one for us. That is, all
of the people in this sanctuary tonight have conflicts. We have very
serious conflicts with others and we also have “not so serious”
conflicts with others. We all get angry. We all get mad. We all get
drawn into real conflicts. That is common to everybody here in this
room. It is a tough one that we all struggle with.
Not only is it a
tough issue, but these are tough texts to deal with. There is a
Bible verse in the Gospel of Matthew that says “If you call
someone a name; if you call your brother or sister a name, you will
go to hell.”
You can go to hell
That is what it
You can go to hell
for calling someone a name?
That is what it
It seems rather
strange to me.
It seems very
judgmental. It seems very condemning. This is a very difficult text.
So the question is: Are we to take this literally? Are we supposed
to take these teachings literally?
No. We are not
supposed to take these Bible verses literally. Write that down,
kids. Don’t take literally. Write that in real big letters.
Don’t take literally. You spell “literally” l, i, t, e, r, a,
l, l, y. Don’t take the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the
Mount literally. Now, what does it mean, John, to take things
That is an important
thing to understand. Literally. When you take something literally,
you do exactly what the words tell you. There are several places in
the Sermon on the Mount where the sermon has these very difficult
sayings. For example, the teaching that says “if you eye causes
you to sin, you pluck it out.” For example, if you are up at the
local grocery store and you pick up that latest issue of Sports
You look at it and
you pluck your eye out. (Both John and Ed make the motion of
plucking their eye out.) That is what it says if you take it
Or, if you go to
that same 7-11 store, and you see that there is a pack of gum there
that you really want. You reach into the shelf and take that pack of
gum and put it in your pocket and walk out of the store with it, not
paying for it but stealing it; Jesus says, “If your hand causes
you to sin, cut it off.” (Both John and Ed make the motion of
cutting off their hand at the wrist.) To take something literally is
to do exactly what the words say.
In some religions and nations of the world today, who take
similar teachings literally, those nations literally and actually
cut off the hands of thieves.
Or, if you tell a
lie and you use your tongue to speak the untruth, you take the
teachings of Jesus literally and you cut your tongue out. (Both John
and Ed make the motion of cutting their tongue out.)
Or if you get angry
with somebody, you go to hell. You literally go to hell. That is
what Jesus said to you in this Sermon on the Mount. If you take it
literally, you do exactly what the words say.
If you take it
literally; if you do not forgive your brother or sister, the Bible
says, “God won’t forgive you.”
God won’t forgive
That is what it says
when you take it literally.
We are saying to you
that we are not to take the Sermon on the Mount literally, where you
do exactly what the words say. If your eye causes you to sin, cut it
out. If your hand causes you to sin, cut if off. God does not want
us to take these Bible verses literally.
One really good
example of that is in the puppet show tonight, when we redid the
script. There is a place in the script where it said that if Lucy
continues to call Charlie Brown names, Lucy will go to hell for
that. We, as pastors, looked at that. We realize that young children
take almost everything literally. Young children take the words
literally. That is just what they do. We as pastors thought, “This
isn’t what Jesus meant here.” So we rewrote that to say, “If
Lucy continues to call Charlie Brown names, God will be very upset
with her.” Now, that is true.
Where we changed
that script, that God would be upset with her, that was really good.
Rather than say, “Lucy, you are going to hell for that.” We
don’t take this teaching literally. … Now this is important to
realize through the whole Sermon on the Mount. Not only for tonight
but for all twelve sermons. In the Sermon on the Mount, you need to
realize that Jesus often uses “strong exaggeration” to make his
Well, Ed, if we are
not supposed to take these teachings literally, then how are we to
understand these teachings for our lives today?
are to take Jesus’ teachings seriously, really seriously. Write
that down, kids: Take Jesus’ teachings really serious. God is
serious. What God says is serious. When God says, “I don’t want
you to be angry,” God is serious. When God says to you and me,
“I don’t want you to call each other names, God is serious.”
And when God says to you, “You need to make up with that
person,” you need to seriously attempt to make up with that person
with whom you are having an awful conflict. God wants you to take
his Word seriously.
I think that is a
very important distinction to make, not only for this text but for
the entire Bible. Jesus never intended for the Sermon on the Mount
to be taken literally.
So the first
important thing we want to say tonight is that we are to take the
teachings of Jesus seriously but not literally.
In the Bible passage
for tonight from Matthew 5:24, Jesus says that if you are having a
conflict with someone and come to church, leave your gift at the
altar and go and reconcile with that person. Jesus commands us to go
and make up with people with whom we are having conflict.
why should we make up? We have these little conflicts with people?
We have real serious conflicts with people, and these conflicts are
really serious and really painful. Why should we make up? Why should
we reconcile? What do you think, John?
One of the biggest
ones is for our own personal health. For our own mental, physical
and psychological health. There has been a lot of research done how
we feel inside in our emotions affects our physical bodies. I like
the quotation that I used in a sermon recently, “Anger is like an
acid that does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored upon
anything on which it is poured.” Anger is like acid that eats away
at our insides. So for just our personal health, it is not good to
harbor that anger which festers within.
Another reason that
it is important to reconcile and make up with people is that the only
way to live with imperfect people, is to forgive them. That is the only
way to live with imperfect people with any harmony and peace. I have
said that a thousand times to a thousand young couples who are going
to be marriage. “He is really imperfect. She is really imperfect.
The only way you can live with an imperfect person is to forgive.”
The only way that I can live with imperfect person like my
wife is to forgive. The only way that my wife can live with an
imperfect person like my is to forgive. The only way we can live
life successfully is through forgiveness and making up endlessly,
repeatedly, infinitely, again and again, throughout our whole
Why do we need to
reconcile conflicts? When we spend so much time being angry inside,
it interferes with our ability to do God’s work. Let me give you a
really good example of that. This was on one of our Mexico missions.
We had this one trip to Mexico and there was all these little feuds
going on within the team, these little arguments. These petty
arguments and feuds got in the way of the team getting close to one
another. You could tell. And that is the same for marriage and
friendship: little feuds and arguments get in the way of getting
close to one another.
I remember you
talking about that mission trip and that the work of Christ didn’t
get done the way you wanted it to because of conflicts. Similarly, I
have seen congregations start to argue and fight with each other. As
soon as congregations start to fight with each other, they don’t
do what God wants them to do.
The same thing
happens with families. When there is fighting within the family,
there is little harmony and all the work and jobs that families do,
that work does not get done.
takes so much time and energy when we fight with each other, as
husbands and wives, as parents and children, within congregations,
within mission teams.
It is consumes so
much negative time and energy to fight and argument, God wants us to
use time and energy positively to do with work in the world. We all
have so much time and energy and we can waste it by having conflicts
with others, rather than doing God’s will in the world.
So you boil it down.
Why reconcile? It is healthy for everyone. Why reconcile? It is
wise. It is the only way to live with imperfect people like you and
me. Why reconcile? Because it helps us to do the work of God in this
world. Why reconcile? Because conflict is a waste of time and
energy. When you boil it all down, we know that God wants us to
reconcile. God wants us to make up. God invites us to make up. And
finally, God demands us to make up. God clearly commands and God
clearly demands: God wants us to make up. Jesus commanded, “When
you have conflicts at church, leave your gift on the altar and go
and reconcile with that person. That is at the very heart of the
will of God for you and me.
know that God wants us to do this. But it is so hard. It is so
difficult. What are some of the things that stand in the way of us
making up? Let’s think of children. One minute, young children are
angry at each other. The next minute, they make up and are playing
with each other. Children seem to be able to do this much better
What gets in the way
of making up? Write that down in your notes, kids. What gets in the
way of making up? The human heart can be so deeply hurt that it is
difficult to make up. That is one thing about the human heart. We
are capable of being deeply loving people. Which means that we are
also capable of being deeply hurt. The human heart is capable of
deep love which means that the human heart is also capable of deep
hurt when that love is violated. That is one of the primary reasons
why it is often difficult to make up.
agree with that. But Ed, you know that we have all run into people
who are really hard to get along with.
You mean, the
We have a word for
those folks in church. They are called the EGR.
What is an EGR?
required. There are those people who are just hard to get along
with. We as God’s people need to have a little extra grace. We
need to exercise a little more of that God that God gives us in
order to get along with those people.
I think another
thing that gets in the way of us making up is just plain pride. Old
fashioned human pride. “I have my pride. I have my principles. I
am not going to give up my anger because of my principles and my
pride.” This is plain, old fashioned pride.
There is that old
“win/lose” kind of thing. “Either I am going to win or you are
going to lose. Or you are going to win and I am going to lose.”
Rather than coming together and reaching a common agreement,
the focus becomes winning or losing. Most people say to themselves,
“I am going to win.” And there are no winners in that situation.
Another reason it is
hard to make up is that some of us feel that the other person needs
to be punished, and I am going to make sure it is done. God is in
charge of wrath and I have decided that it is up to me to make sure
that the other person gets punished. I may do it quietly and subtly
but I will do it. I may punish them for days, weeks, years. I may
punish them with my mind for even decades.
Good old revenge.
Good old revenge.
We realize that this
is difficult for all of us and we all struggle with it. But, what
helps in those situations? Where can we turn for the help that we
When we come to the
point that we want to reconcile, it often means that our hearts have
become healthy. Hearts that are healthy are those hearts which are
filled with the love of God and the love of Jesus. Hearts that are
healthy are hearts that understand that everybody makes mistakes.
Deep down in my heart, I am mature enough to know that everybody
makes little mistakes and big mistakes. Everybody does, including
you and me and everyone here. I think that at the core of all
healing is a healthy heart. It is a heart that is filled with love
and forgiveness for another person.
That leads me into
the next point. Whenever there is a reconciliation going on, it has
to start somewhere. It has to start with me. (Pointing to his own
heart.) It has to start with me, in my own heart. It has to start
with ourselves. We have to recognize that we are imperfect too and
that we can make mistakes and that we can cause problems. We need to
start with ourselves. We need to make that first move.
That first move is
usually a move in prayer. Where we say, “God, this is really hard.
I have been hurt so much.
I am so angry. Things are so mixed up. Lord, I don’t know
how I am going to do it. God, please help me. God, please heal the
anger and hurt in my heart. This conflict is so enormous, I can’t
do it. Please God, help me.” That first step is to go to God in
prayer and say, “God, heal me. Heal me of my anger. Heal me of my
hurt. Heal me of my pain. Heal me of my vengeance. God, please heal
my heart.” This is often the way it begins.
God often comes and
helps us through our Christian family and friends. Let’s not
forget the people who are around us. Let’s not forget the
community of faith. It may be very helpful to go to our Christian
friends and bounce some ideas off of them, to do some reality
checking. “This is what I am thinking. What do you think? This is
what is going on in this conflict. Can you help me understand it
better? How shall I approach this?” It is wise to go to other
friends and family to get their help with those issues.
I think it is a sign
of dishonesty if you try to keep other people out of the conflict.
That is trying to avoid the reality of what needs to be done. I
really agree with you, John. But how about those situations of a
family explosion some fifteen or twenty years ago and those families
still haven’t made up. It is fifteen or twenty years later and the
grudge and anger and frictions and division are still there.
And both people are Christians. What do you say to that,
is really tragic and we know that happens all the time. We know that
it takes time to reconcile. We do know that one thing is above all,
that is very important.
And what is that?
forgiveness is greater than all our anger and all our conflicts.
That is true.
God’s forgiveness is greater than all our anger and all our
Making up is hard to
God says it’s the right thing to do.