Pastor's Blog

Chris Boehnke

Chris Boehnke

Hi! My name is Chris Boehnke (a good German name pronounced “Bane-key”). Tracy, my wife, and I have been married for 21 years and God has blessed us with four beautiful children: Joshua (18), Lauren (16), Nathaniel (13), and Mikayla (9). I treasure my wife and family among the greatest gifts God has given me in life.

I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska – the heartland of the Midwest – by two loving parents, Don and Linda. I grew up attending a conservative but vibrant Lutheran congregation, while also experiencing excursions into other evangelical and charismatic church environments. This exposed me to a breadth of Christian practice and teaching that has incited me over the years to ask a ton of questions and to seek deeper understanding regarding what “the church” is and what it’s central message, “the Gospel,” is all about.

While my interests were in art (drawing and painting) and language (excelling in German) at Millard North High School, I ended up completing a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Nebraska in Omaha (I consider philosophy “the art of asking good questions”). I attended Concordia Seminary in St Louis to finish a Master of Divinity in May 2000. Since then I have served as a shepherd-teacher for followers of Jesus in Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, and now Michigan. I happily reside with my family in Grand Haven, Michigan, where I serve a community of Jesus followers in Spring Lake called Lakeshore Fellowship. When I’m not reading or studying one of several books at a time, I enjoy spending time with Tracy and the kids, going for walks in nature, relaxing at the beach (with a good book!), cycling, exploring new things and places, watching Star Trek, or painting.

Along the way I’ve encountered many casualties of organized Christianity – those who have been sorely hurt, turned off, offended, or just disenchanted with all its stale rules and rituals. My desire is to compassionately hear and love those who have been broken or turned off by the church and those who have rejected an ugly God they can no longer worship. I want to wrestle alongside those who have nagging questions and doubts about who God is and what our place in this ugly world is. Most especially, I want to paint a better, more beautiful picture for them and for the world – to reimagine – who God is as unfailing, relentless LOVE, gloriously revealed in Jesus the Messiah-King.

I invite you to join the conversation!

Website URL: http://www.facebook.com/Chris-Boehnke-1794284217475214/ Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sunday, May 21, 2017

An Adopted Heir

Consider how much time and energy is spent on accumulating wealth and achieving more in order to attain a higher status - to experience a greater sense of worth and value. Yet, the greatest status of all is given to us as gift! This Sunday we begin a new series, titled Your Divine Heavenly Status. Our message is "An Adopted Heir!" based on Acts 1:1-11 and Ephesians 1:3-6.


    

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

BLESSED ARE THE MEEK (PART 2)

Jesus is the anti-superhero hero!

He doesn’t conquer the world with violent force, power, or the politics of coercion. King Jesus wins the world back by pouring Himself out in a gentle, sacrificial love and service for others!

Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing [or “emptied himself”] by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)

This is the heart of God displayed in Jesus. He said “I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) God wins back the hearts and lives of hardened, intransigent rebels by refusing to use coercive power and violence. Instead, God gives Himself to us in the meek and gentle power of His loving mercy.

We see Jesus riding into Jerusalem not on a horse of war, but “gentle and riding on a donkey.” We see Him go to be coronated as King. But not by military conquest or violent insurrection. But by giving Himself to suffer at the hands of the corrupt, powerful religious and political leaders. He takes on Himself all the evils and injustice of this earth. And Jesus gives Himself to die for it all.

There in the cruel agony of the cross, God became King in Jesus and reclaimed the earth and all humanity in the meek embrace of His sacrificial love. And this was Jesus’s joy and happiness!

“For the joy set before him he [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews 12:2)

The path for Jesus to reign as Israel’s King over the whole earth was in the joy of a humble, self-emptying of Himself for each one of us. To win us back at the cost of His life.

Now Jesus calls us to follow Him in the supernatural politics of His upside-down Kingdom.

Jesus says, “Blessed – truly happy – are the meek, the gentle, the humble, for they will inherit the earth.” 

As followers of Jesus, we have been won over by the gentleness of His love. We share in His joy and happiness, as we display His heart with each other and the world. We are part of His irresistible revolution of gentle, sacrificial love – a love that is shown even to enemies!

The hope of changing our country and the world is not found in whom we elect as President in the White House – Clinton or Trump.  We may scratch our heads in stunned disbelief that these are the two viable candidates for President. It appears there’s no morally good choice before us.

Neither one seems qualified as we consider all the arrogantly empty bravado, the deceptive falsehoods, the immoral character, the degrading rhetoric, and the manipulative power-grabbing. Yet, Trump and Clinton are simply a reflection of the current condition of our nation’s moral character and soul.

The only hope for changing America is found in Jesus. As we follow Jesus, the Spirit empowers us to reflect and represent Him in His politics of humility, rather than the arrogant politics of our culture.

Imagine how the cultural and political landscape of our country would be transformed if people, and even politicians, began to reflect the humble and gentle life of King Jesus that serves other people first! 

Our gentle King has already claimed the earth with the nail-scarred hands of His love. Now He is at work through us, His kingdom community, until the day we all inherit the earth under His loving reign as Lord and King.

Therefore God exalted [Jesus] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

We are truly blessed and happy as we follow King Jesus – the Man of Gentle Love.

Join us next week as we explore  – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

President-elect Trump. America was stunned at how the presidential and congressional elections turned out.

Some are shocked and feel utter despair.

Others are delighted and feel jubilant celebration.

And still others are numb and feel uncertainty about it all.

In truth, no matter how we feel about this election there is a common desire all of us share across the entire political spectrum – from Democrat, to Republican, to Libertarian, to Green Party, to Socialist.

We all have an innate desire for justice – for things to be put right in the world and in our lives.

Yes, there are vastly different and divergent understandings of what needs to be put right and how it should be done. That’s why human politics are so volatile and prone to violence and corruption. Our own self-interests will always get in the way. Yet, all of us have a deep, yearning desire for a broken world to be put right again, for justice to be done. Even if we don’t know what that means.

At the end of the day, however, we are always left unsatisfied. Our government leaders and elected officials are never able to completely fulfill their promises to make things – in our country, our economy, or in our world – right and great again.

Only the world-reversing politics of King Jesus show us how justice is restored in the world.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” Jesus said. (Matthew 5:6)

“Righteousness” or “justice” (both from the same Greek word dikaiosune) is about an unjust, disorderly world being put right and just again. Deep down this is what we all desire.

Jesus taught us that all things are put right by the way He lived.

The world is put right, just, and good when we wholeheartedly love and worship God, our Creator.  And when we sacrificially love other people – even our “enemies” who despise, curse, and seek to harm us.

This means that the greatest need for our country, for our lives, and for all nations is to be put right with our Creator God. When this happens then we are also put right in love with each other. This is the justice we seek but can never accomplish on our own.

We have cause to be thankful to God whenever outward, civic righteousness is achieved by human politics and government. So we need to honor, support, and pray for all our elected leaders, especially President-elect Trump – no matter what you think of him and his policies. We pray for our government leaders so we may enjoy external order, prosperity, and peace in our nation.

These are all gifts we receive from our heavenly Father.

But civic righteousness alone will not satisfy our deepest hunger for righteousness and justice in the world. And our allegiance as followers of Jesus is not to any human government, no matter how outwardly good and effective it is.

Our allegiance is to King Jesus and His kingdom community that displays His sacrificial, self-giving love that truly puts things right.

Jesus is the embodiment of God’s righteousness. In Jesus, God came to put humanity right with Himself, with each other, and with creation. That’s what God did when He united Himself to our flesh-and-blood humanity in the incarnation of Jesus. 

God drew all the injustice, evil, and disorder of humanity and the world into Himself within the body of Jesus. He put an end to injustice when He gave Himself to us in sacrificial love by dying at the hands of corrupt human politics. Jesus put it all to death and with His bodily resurrection He accomplished the justice of God for us.

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)

Join us next week for part 2!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied” Jesus said. (Matthew 5:6)

When we hunger and thirst for things to be put right in our lives and in the world, Jesus satisfies us with the justice of God’s reconciling love. 

By His death on a Roman cross of execution for us and all humanity.

By His coming back to life in the body, conquering sickness, disease, death and the grave.

By sacrificing His life for His enemies, Jesus overcame evil with the goodness of His love that restores us to our Creator God and Father.

Jesus satisfies us with the righteousness – the setting-all-things-right justice – of God.

When we trust in King Jesus rather than human rulers, God’s Spirit gives us the blessed happiness of knowing by faith that all things have already been put right in union with Him and His redeeming love.

We are blessed…
no matter how things are going politically in our nation or the world,
no matter how strong or weak the economy is,
no matter how we are mistreated or misunderstood by others,
no matter how up or down we feel today and tomorrow.

When we follow Jesus as the crucified, risen, and exalted King, we are blessed and satisfied with God’s loving justice that is also being worked out through us.

Jesus is working His loving justice out through us, His kingdom people, who hunger and thirst for His justice to be realized throughout the world.

King Jesus works through His followers to put the justice of His love in action for the poor and disenfranchised, the suffering and victimized, the sick and dying – all who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

He empowers us by the Holy Spirit to be the visible sign-post and the advanced display in the present of the future fulfillment of God’s justice on earth.

We’re called to be the embodiment of God’s voice, hands, and feet of justice where He puts us so people may experience a foretaste of His justice that is yet to come.

In his massive study of wealth and poverty in ancient society, scholar Peter Brown traces a radical shift in society’s view of the poor and marginalized. Brown writes that in the 4th and 5th century, “The poor were frequently seen to represent an extreme of the human condition, persons teetering on the brink of destruction and condemned to the outer margins of society.” The poor were viewed as others, as those people.

But the good news of Jesus and His kingdom brought about a dramatic change. Brown writes, “The poor were not simply others—creatures who trembled on the margins of society, asking to be saved by the wealthy … They were also brothers [and sisters]. They had the right to ‘cry out’ for justice in the face of oppressors along with all the other members of the ‘people of God.'”

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’ says the Lord. One the contrary:

‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.In doing
this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 13:17-21)

All things have been put right in Jesus. And all things are being put right through His kingdom revolution. Justice has been achieved and justice is being worked out. One day God’s righteousness and justice will be fully realized.

Evil and injustice will be overcome and extinguished. Justice, goodness, and love will win the day!

Earthly politicians and presidents will never satisfy us. But Jesus will satisfy us with the blessed joy of God’s righteousness on the day we experience all things in heaven and on earth put right in His love.

We can trust King Jesus to keep His promise.

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied.”

 

Next week we will look at the next beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful.”

 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Psalm 118:1
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”
1 Timothy 4:4-5

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
1 Timothy 6:6-8, 17-19

(Next week we will continue with the next beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful”)

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Living The Future Life Today

How would you live life differently if you knew the future outcome of history and your life? The truth is that in King Jesus not only do we confidently know the future, but we share in the new life from the age to come! This Sunday we finish our series, Encountering the Risen Lord, with the message, "Live the Future Life Today!" based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 20-28, 56-58.

Next Sunday, May 14th, we welcome guest preacher, Pastor Bill Fillmore, Executive Director of Barnabas Ministry.

    

The revolution of Jesus’s upside-down kingdom has brought tremendous change to the world since His sacrificial death and resurrection.

One of the most significant factors that seized the attention of the ancient world was the acts of mercy that Jesus and His followers showed to those in need.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
(Matthew 5:7 NIV)

Historian Rodney Stark documents how the earliest followers of Jesus displayed mercy to all people in need – especially the neglected and despised – and how that eventually overturned the Roman Empire.

“In the midst of the squalor, misery, illness, and anonymity of ancient cities, Christianity provided an island of mercy and security … It started with Jesus.

In contrast, in the pagan world, and especially among the philosophers, mercy was regarded as a character defect and pity as a pathological emotion: because mercy involves providing unearnedhelp or relief, it is contrary to justice …. [Thus] humans must learn to curb the impulse [to show mercy]; ‘the cry of the undeserving for mercy’ must go ‘unanswered.’ ‘[Showing mercy] was a defect of character unworthy of the wise and excusable only in those who have not yet grown up.’

This was the moral climate in which Christianity taught that … a merciful God requires humans to be merciful.”

(Stark, Rodney. The Triumph of Christianity. Page 112)

Mercy is at the heart of who God is.

He provides “unearned help and relief” to each one of us in our need no matter how unworthy we are.

When God revealed the glory of His name and presence to Moses, He said “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy…” (Exodus 33:19, NIV). In other words, no one will limit or determine whom God should have mercy on, for His nature is to have mercy on all people, and His mercy never gives up!

For this reason, Scripture joyfully declares 43 times: “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psa 106:1 NKJ)

So when Moses got a small glimpse of God’s glory, “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…’ ” (Exodus 34:6 ESV)

The LORD – the “I AM” – will always show mercy even when He must first allow people to face the punishment and consequences for their sinful choices: “…but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exo 34:7 ESV)

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime.” (Psalm 30:5 NIV)

This is the pattern of how God works evident throughout all Scripture.

We experience God’s judgment on sin so we may know our need and helplessness. Then, God shows us His mercy to help and rescue us when we can’t help ourselves.

This is what happened to God’s people, Israel, over and over again.

They sinned. They experienced God’s judgment. Then God showed them His merciful love and grace to rescue them.

Consider these words of prayer to God about Israel:

“Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and mercifulGod.”  (Nehemiah 9:29-31, NIV)

Israel is representative of each one of us and of all humanity.

And it was through Israel and an Israelite-Jewish man named Jesus that God’s mercy, love, and grace were revealed in the clearest, most definitive way to help each one of us.

God’s mercy was on visible display at the cross.

God’s mercy was definitively given when Jesus – as God in a human, Jewish body – laid His life down in death for Israel and for all non-Jewish nations of the world.

God is merciful to rescue all people in their need and helplessness.

For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people”(Titus 2:11 ESV)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:4-5 NIV)

We receive God’s mercy as we trust in Jesus who is “God our Savior.” He frees us with His mercy, so we may freely show mercy to all people who are helplessly in need. For His eternal plan is that all people would receive His saving mercy.

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” (Romans 11:32)

Next week we will continue with part 2 of “Blessed are the merciful”

He healed the sick.

He fed the poor and hungry.

He brought freedom to the oppressed and victimized.

He showed compassion to the grieving and raised the dead.

He served the outcasts, the despised, and the lowly.

King Jesus is the embodiment of God’s mercy in action for each one of us at our point of need. 

When He willingly surrendered His life into the violent, tyrannical hands of the Jewish leaders and the Romans, Jesus absorbed into Himself all the evil injustice and rebellion of humanity, the demonic powers of darkness, and the decay and death of creation.

In mercy Jesus, the Son of God united to our humanity, entered our darkness and shone the light of His sacrificial love that scattered the darkness – by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead!

God’s mercy in Jesus is the healing balm for all people and for each one of us to freely receive by trusting in Him. God’s mercy frees us from our self-centered, sin-sick hearts, so we may freely and sacrificially give ourselves with mercy in action to others in need.

Israel was called to show mercy to the nations and failed in the strength of their own flesh and blood. But as the kingdom community of Jesus, we are called to show mercy to all people in need as the mercy of Jesus enlivens us and flows through us.

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and…transgression…You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18)

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

Who are the people in need that God is calling you to reach out to with acts of loving mercy?

It’s easy to show mercy when the people in need are those we like and care for. It’s not so easy when the people in need are those we honestly don’t like. Or their lifestyle and values are different from ours.

In his book, The Divine Commodity, Skye Jethani tells the following story about showing mercy even to our “enemies.”

“Ghassan Thomas leads one of the few public churches that emerged [in Baghdad] after Saddam Hussein was toppled. His congregation erected a sign on their building that said ‘Jesus Is the Light of the World,’ but the church was raided by bandits who left behind a threat on a piece of cardboard. It read: ‘Jesus is not the light of the world, Allah is, and you have been warned.’ The note was signed ‘The Islamic Shiite Party.’

In response, Pastor Ghassan loaded a van with children’s gifts and medical supplies—which were in critically short supply following the American invasion—and drove to the headquarters of the Islamic Shiite Party. After presenting the gifts and supplies to the sheikh, Ghassan told the leader, ‘Christians have love for you, because our God is a God of love.’ He then asked permission to read from the Bible. Ghassan turned to Jesus’ words in John 8, ‘I am the light of the world.’ He then showed the cardboard note to the sheikh. The Muslim leaders, astounded by Pastor Thomas’s actions, apologized.

‘This will not happen again,’ [the sheikh] vowed. ‘You are my brother. If anyone comes to kill you, it will be my neck first.’ The sheikh later attended Pastor Thomas’s ordination service at the church.

(Skye Jethani, The Divine Commodity [Zondervan, 2009], pp. 61-62)

As the mercy of God we receive in Jesus flows out through our actions to others, we will experience the blessing of God. We will know the true joy and blessed-happiness that comes from following Jesus as He lives in and through us with the Spirit of mercy.

Receive God’s mercy and become a conduit of His mercy. 

And no matter how much you give away, you have the promise that there’s always more mercy to receive from the inexhaustibly-flowing fountain of love within the Triune God.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
(Matthew 5:7)

Next week we will continue with “Blessed are the pure in heart.”

Bullseye!

Seeing an arrow fly into the center yellow circle of a bullseye is a thrill. It’s even more exciting when you actually shoot an arrow through the back of another arrow and split it at the center of the bullseye! (I actually accomplished that once).

When I competed in tournament archery as a 12-year-old boy, the hardest aspect of shooting an arrow was maintaining a clear, calm, mental focus. I remember my archery trainer telling me at a Saturday morning practice, “Archery is about 15% physical form and strength and 85% mental focus.”

Keeping your sight on the bullseye with an undistracted, calm focus is the key.

This axiom is true not just for archery and other endeavors in life. This is also true for how we follow King Jesus as the Lord of our lives.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”(Matthew 5:8)

We are truly happy when the focus of our hearts is purely and clearly on the God revealed in Jesus. For one day, we will see Him face-to-face!

Our struggle with “sin” is about our hearts being distracted in their focus from our Creator God. In fact, the word sin even means, “missing the mark” (hamartia in Greek and hattat in Hebrew).

The words of Jesus here are likely based on Psalm 24, which describes who may live in the presence of God. “Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” (Ps 24:3)

The answer: “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.”(Ps 24:4)

The Psalmist defines a “pure heart” as someone who “does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” Blessing comes from the LORD for a person whose trust is aimed at Him and nothing else. The bullseye of life is centered in the LORD – the “I AM.”

So why have our hearts been distracted from God as the bullseye center of LIFE?

God created everything good. The I AM is Goodness and Life!

The problem is we have believed a lie – the lie of the enemy that God is not good and His Word to us is not trustworthy. This is the heart of sin. This is the original temptation of Adam and Eve.

The LIE says we need to determine what is good and evil and then aim the trust of our heart at the target we determine to be good for us.

The result is that our hearts are darkened, corrupted, and impure. We are blind to who God really is. We imagine Him to be an angry, Zeus-like god who is out to get us. Or we imagine Him to be an aloof and senile grandfather in the sky who couldn’t care less about us.

Our blind, impure hearts can’t see God for who He really is. We are distracted by false gods and images (“idols”). And our blind, impure hearts can’t see ourselves for who we really are – children of God made in His image to share His Divine glory!

Blind, distracted, impure hearts are the cause of all our fear, our anxiety, and all our unhappiness.

King Jesus, however, gives us a heart transplant!

Jesus is the Word of the Father who reveals the goodness of God’s love for us – like light shining into the darkness!

He entered the darkness of our blind, distracted flesh and blood. Yet, His heart remained pure and focused in trust on His heavenly Father. He plunged Himself into our deepest darkness, corruption, and impurity when He hung on the cross. By giving His life, Jesus gives us the goodness of God’s redeeming love.

Jesus reveals the truth that God is good.

The Father has loved us and will always love us as His dear children. Jesus gives us His heart – the heart of God – that illuminates us with the eyes of faith so we may see who God really is.

Through this Good News the Holy Spirit is at work to purify and cleanse our hearts and to give us new, pure hearts that aim their trust in Jesus. You are included in Christ and He is in you. His pure heart is your pure heart. You are already in the bullseye center of God’s goodness and life!

Trust in Him. Let Him be the focus of your heart and life.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

We have the blessed joy of a pure heart in Jesus that sees God with the eyes of faith.

May eager anticipation rise up in our hearts. For the day is coming when our faith will turn into sight.

We “will see His face”! (Rev 22:4)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, PART 3

Jesus is our peace and He has made peace.

Jesus surrendered His life into the violent hands of the corrupt Jewish leaders and the tyrannical Roman authorities. He gave His life as a sacrifice to be scourged, beaten, and crucified.

Not because God needed a violent sacrifice to be appeased – as many Christians wrongly seem to think. God is not some pagan Volcano god who requires a young, virgin, island girl to be thrown into the flames to placate his anger.

The sacrifice of the cross was the enemy-embracing, non-violent, sacrifice of love that God made through Jesus to bring the violent evil and sin of mankind to an end with His death. The light of His love conquered the darkness of our self-centered evil and violence with His resurrection from the dead to give us peace with God and peace with each other.

The apostle Paul’s words about the end of hostility between Jews and Gentiles also applies to the hostility between all people:

“For Jesus himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” (Ephesians 2:14-17)

Jesus preached peace and is now making peace through us – a new, reconciled humanity!

King Jesus established His Kingdom-reign of peace on earth through His teaching, His ministry of mercy, and finally with His sacrifice of love at the cross.

By preaching and making peace, King Jesus declares that every single woman, man, and child, no matter what nationality or background is a made-in-the-image-of-God child of the heavenly Father. Not everyone knows this yet, believes it now, or is living out of this identity. But it’s already a reality in Jesus.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

King Jesus began a sacrificial-love, peace revolution that we’ve been enlisted into as His followers.

He is advancing the reconciling peace of His kingdom through us, His brothers and sisters – baptized into union with Jesus as beloved sons and daughters of God our Father and anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit.

In His Sermon on the Mount teaching for His kingdom community, Jesus says in the seventh beatitude – or “happiness” statement: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Jesus gives us true happiness in life as we trust in Him, the Peacemaker, and as He makes us to be peacemakers like Him. In our life-transforming union with Jesus and the peace we share in Him, we are reconciling peacemakers who serve others with His non-violent, enemy-embracing, sacrificial love.

Our self-centered thinking will resist this and it will certainly befuddle those with the world’s mindset of strength through violent power. But this is the supernatural kingdom life of Jesus’s goodness that conquers all evil.

Consider the peacemaking life Jesus works in us:

“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 anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)

When someone insults or hurts us, Jesus says we need not retaliate with anger, threats, or violence in order to take revenge or get pay-back. (Jesus is not saying we can’t protect ourselves or keep ourselves from becoming objects of violence – let’s be clear on this!)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate you enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”(Matthew 5:43-45)

God’s peace works through us when we extend the goodness of His mercy, forgiveness, and love to those who oppose us, to those who are “enemies.”

When Jesus hung on the cross, He prayed for His enemies – including sinners like us – who crucified Him as He spoke these words, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Prayerfully reflect on the lyrics of the recent song by The Brilliance, called “My Brother”:

When I look into the face

Of my enemy

I see my brother

I see my brother

 

Forgiveness is the garment

Of our courage

The power to make the peace

We long to know

Open up our eyes

To see the wounds that bind

All of humankind

May our shutter hearts

Greet the dawn of life

With charity and love

 

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, blesses us with the joy of living as peacemakers. Together we are and one day will all be called children of God.

 

(Next week we will continue with “Blessed are those who are persecuted.”)

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Meet Pastor Chris

  • Hi! My name is Chris Boehnke (a good German name pronounced “Bane-key”). Tracy, my wife, and I have been married for 21 years and God has blessed us with four beautiful children: Joshua (18), Lauren (16), Nathaniel (13), and Mikayla (9). I treasure my wife and family among the greatest gifts God has given me in life. I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska – the heartland of the Midwest – by two loving parents, Don and Linda. I grew up attending a conservative but vibrant Lutheran congregation, while also experiencing excursions into other evangelical and charismatic church environments. This exposed me to a breadth of Christian practice and teaching that has incited me over the years to ask a ton of questions and to seek deeper understanding regarding what “the church” is and what it’s central message, “the Gospel,” is all about. While my interests were in art…

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A Congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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