Sermon July 3, 2022: Let The Holy Spirit Convince The Neighbors (Pentecost 5)

“Duty Calls” comic by XKCD – from

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:




If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

HYMN America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)
Home Free – My Country ‘Tis of Thee

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Hymn of Promise
Hymn of Promise — by Soli Deo Gloria Choir; Michael Fuchs, director
First Lutheran Church – Duluth, MN

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Let The Holy Spirit Convince The Neighbors
John 16:7-11, 1 Corinthians 12:3b, 2 Chronicles 7:12-16, Matthew 4:17-20, 22:35-40.
Series: “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles.”

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Saturday Video AudioWesley Sermon Audio


John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and
judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

1 Corinthians 12:3b … and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

2 Chronicles 7:12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 22:35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman


HYMN America The Beautiful
Gaither Vocal Band – America the Beautiful [Live]

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)


All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!


We’re talking about the season of Pentecost. We’re talking about the words that Jesus had that last night where he said, “The Holy Spirit is going to come to you.” The Holy Spirit is going to come to you as a paraclete, which is the English version of the Greek word paráklētos. A word which literally means the one who comes alongside to help … English translations translate that word as counselor. I like the way the King James says comforter. A lot of translations use the word helper, but the literal meaning is that the Holy Spirit is not far away, but right here, right now to help you and I live the Christian life.

And Jesus identified a number of things that the Holy Spirit would do after the day of Pentecost and today we’re up to the one in John 16. But before we talk about how the Holy Spirit works to convince our neighbors, let me remind you of one of my favorite sayings. There’s an old Amish man who was asked, “Are you a Christian?” and his reply was, “You’ll have to ask my neighbor.”

And that’s because our Christian faith happens where people can see it because in what Jesus called the Great Commandment we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then he said to “Love our neighbor as ourselves.” That’s where we will see people obeying the commandment – out there with their neighbors.

So we have to be concerned, friends, with the neighborhood, and what is happening in the neighborhood, and how people in the neighborhood are interacting with each other. And I want to talk to you about something that brings me great concern, and you know all about this because for the past 10 years or so, people have been more and more rude toward their neighbors.

On the screen, you’re looking at this wonderful little cartoon. The cartoonist goes by the name xkcd. It’s called Duty Calls. The husband is sitting at the computer, and I assume it’s quite late at night because his wife calls from the other room, “Are you coming to bed?”
And his reply is, “I can’t. This is important.”
“What could be so important?” she asks, and he says,
“Someone is wrong on the internet.”

Now, that’s supposed to be funny, but if you’re married to someone who doesn’t know when it’s time to come to bed, you know it’s not always that funny! And I want to say to you, friends, there are some nights this is me on Facebook. I’ve got to go fight the good fight with the people who are wrong on the internet! And if I don’t fight it on the computer, I’ll be laying there in bed arguing with them instead of sleeping!

This is human nature. When we see something that is unjust, when we see something that offends us, when we see people doing things or saying things that we just feel are wrong, there’s something in us that feels that we must do something.

And I’ll be honest with you, friends, there is evil in the world, and we probably need to do something about evil, but I’ll also be honest with you: You’re not going to fix the evil in the world on the internet after midnight. If you’ve been in those arguments with people like I have … when I was younger, I used to love to argue. The older I get, the more it feels to me that I’m never winning any of those arguments, that it’s not really making the world a better place.

The name of the cartoon is Duty Calls. And there are people– and at times, I have been such a person who feels like it’s my duty to jump up and fight with people who don’t agree with me and I’ve had to remind myself that people who do not agree with me are not evil simply because they don’t agree with me. And I’ve had to reason with myself to realize that attacking them, quite often, simply makes them more certain that they’re right and that I’m wrong.

But over the past 10 years or so, people have just become less and less civil to each other when they disagree, and there is, operating, in the neighborhood, forces and principles that are turning us against each other. And I think, as Christian people, we need to understand how that operates. It doesn’t really matter which side you’re on. You need to understand how this operates to turn people against each other.

Unfortunately, there’s been some science on this. There’s a scientist by the name of John Gottman. He actually was at the University of Illinois in Champagne. For many years, he’s been at the University of Washington out near Seattle. John Gottman and his research partners have been studying marriage. Now, I’m not so much talking about marriage today as I’m talking about how friendships and the way we do friendship can turn people against each other, but that’s where this research comes from. His research partners can watch a couple interact for 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and predict, with over 90% accuracy, whether they’ll still be together in two years. Because you can literally see relationships begin to turn and go wrong and if you can see how friendships begin to turn and go wrong, you can do something about it. You can do something about it in your neighborhood because this kind of dynamic happens with the people you live next to. This dynamic happens with the people you work with. This dynamic of people turning against each other happens in clubs, in churches. Any time where people come together, this process can happen. And friends, I think you and I need to be able to recognize it.

The first thing that Gottman points out is conversations that begin with what he calls a harsh startup. And that’s where people begin very harshly with each other. And they move into four things, which pretty much spell the doom of a friendship.

The first one is criticism. And of course, that’s what leads to that all-night-long activity of trying to fix people and change people. Because obviously, criticism begins when we think there’s something wrong with someone else. When you and I see unlimited criticism happening, we need to be aware that friendships and relationships, whether it’s on a ball team, whether it’s in a schoolroom class, friendships and relationships are going to begin to be damaged.

Because criticism, Gottman says, leads right to contempt. There is something bad about this person. There is something wrong with this person. And as contempt builds for other people, it is almost certain that the relationship is in danger.

When people feel attacked, they get defensive. Sometimes they can’t even point to what it is. But they know in their hearts, I’m being attacked, and they respond with anger. And of course, we are also seeing a rise in literal defensiveness to where people become violent when they feel threatened and attacked.

The fourth horseman of the apocalypse that is destructive to relationships is called stonewalling. Stonewalling means no longer being willing to talk about how we feel. No longer being willing to talk about solving problems. And as a result, we turn our backs on other people. We first turn away, but then we pull away and everything gets worse.

Gottman says, as these four negative behaviors continue, they’re like little bombs that go off. And they become what is called a relational cascade. Now, what that means is when you have a disagreement with a person, it should start at a number one of intensity and then get worse. If it gets worse to a two or a three, and then get worse up to a four or a five. And after taking a long time to build up, maybe it’ll be at an eight or a nine. What Gottman points out– And again, if you have a friendship, if you’re going to a class at a school, if you are working with people and you see this it’s very serious. A cascade is that an argument or a disagreement starts at eight or nine, and then people turn away way and drop it. And the next time it comes up, it starts at a nine or a ten. It’s like people never calm down. And it’s very hard to remain in a friendship when there’s that kind of negative intensity.

Here’s what God says about that. This is from 2 Chronicles 7:12. This is a scripture that’s frequently used on the 4th of July. It’s the scripture that talks about how God will forgive sin and heal our land. But a lot of people don’t realize the context of that promise from God, “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to Him, ‘I have heard your prayer and I have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.'” The context of this promise is the dedication of the First Temple. Verse 13, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain or command the locust to devour the land or send pestilence among my people…” In other words, when bad things happen to get your attention, here comes the promise in verse 14, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Friends, I want to say to you that this scripture is being quoted all over the United States today. And not only that, you’ll find it all over Facebook today. But what you’ll find with it is the statement that if you want God to heal our land, we need to get those people to repent. We need to get those people to change their ways because everything bad that is happening to us is because of those people doing what God doesn’t want and they are to blame.

But that’s not what the scripture says. The scripture is not about you or I getting someone else to repent for their evil ways, even though, to be honest, maybe those ways really are evil. What God is pointing out here is that when God’s people repent, even if they don’t have much to repent for, that should make us smile because you know we do. When God’s people repent of their sin, it starts a trend. When God’s people pray and seek God’s face, it starts a trend. When God’s people turn from their wicked ways, whatever those ways might be, it starts a trend. And when God sees us repent, the promise is that God will hear from heaven and will forgive our sin and heal our land.

And sometimes, we get confused about who’s supposed to go first. Because that kind of argument that is happening on Facebook is an argument about how those people need to go first. God says, “No. If we go first, they’ll have to follow.” It’s quite a strange thing, I will be honest with you. If you’re in an argument with someone, and you look at them and calmly say, “You know? I think you’re right,” it’ll instantly shut them up. If you look at someone who is arguing with you, and you say to them, “You know? I can see that I’m doing this and this, and that probably is part of why you feel so offended.” It will change their whole demeanor.
It’s astonishing how, if we can admit where we’re made a mistake, it can emotionally change any interaction.

But this is what the Bible says, friends. If you want to see our land, to be healed, we need to go first. And what I want to suggest also is not only do we need to go first, when it comes to convincing other people that they are wrong, this is very specifically a ministry of the Holy Spirit. When we are pointing our fingers at someone else, we can easily get in the way of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth. It’s to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away, the counselor, the comforter, the Paraclete will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” And notice in the next verse exactly what God is going to happen. First thing. “When He comes, He will convince the world.” You and I don’t need to convince other people that they’re wrong. And when He comes, He, the Holy Spirit, will convince the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment. The Paraclete will come alongside of us to convince people around us what is wrong. And if you read the Gospels, you’ll notice this happened around Jesus. Because of course, the Holy Spirit was around Jesus, and when people came into the presence of Jesus, they began to have this sense of how they needed their life to change. And it’s because the Holy Spirit was working on that. Because the Holy Spirit will convince them concerning sin. Because they do not believe in me, concerning righteousness, whatever’s right, whatever’s wrong, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Verse 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

And because of that, it’s likely that you and I don’t need to be that argumentative bulldozer trying to convince someone else that they’re wrong. We can let the Holy Spirit do that. With regard to arguing and convincing others, maybe we can hear God saying, “I’ve got this.”

And if that’s true, you know what’s left to us? We go right back to the default, we show love to our neighbor. God shows them the error of their ways, and the combination of the two works. Have you ever heard the phrase good cop, bad cop? We can be the kind one, and we can leave it to God to straighten people out. In fact, 1 Corinthians 12:3, the second part says, “No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” We need to let go of arguments and let God work. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy!

I love these quotes by G. K. Chesterton, who replied in a letter to the editor from the London Times. There was an article about what’s wrong with the world. And his letter just simply said, “Sir, regarding your article about what is wrong with the world, I am, it’s me. Yours truly, G. K. Chesterton.” He said, “When a man really tells the truth, the first truth he tells us that he himself is a liar.” If you want to convince people around you of what God wants, the suggestion is for you to begin by repenting of your sin, by you saying, “I’m sorry for what I have done.” Because it really brings a change when we love other people and are honest upfront about our imperfections and our mistakes. And this, you could say, is the Christian ideal. But Chesterton also points out the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, found to be insufficient, found to fail; it’s been found difficult and left untried.

So what are the antidotes to these four negative things? Because … if we can recognize them at work, in our neighborhood, where we work, on a team that we take part in, in a class– if we can notice them and know how to bring about an antidote, maybe we can change what is happening around us. The antidote to criticism is this, instead of harshly responding, be gentle and speak of your feelings and how you feel. Friends, it’s gentleness with people that heals the hurt from criticism.

When we become aware that contempt is filling the conversation that’s happening, we can build a culture of appreciation. We can say something that says “I appreciate you.” If you can find something to be thankful for, you can turn people away from contempt.

When we sense defensiveness coming into the conversation, that’s the place where we can take responsibility because, again, as I said, if you can identify something that you do that’s wrong, some way that you made this worse, some way that you need to repent, it will change the defensiveness of that conversation because a person will stop feeling attacked because you’ve been honest about not being perfect.

And finally, with regard to stonewalling, which is where you see people turning away as a way to turn against people, you can provide them with self-soothing. Kim and I love to watch The Big Bang, and we all know that Sheldon does not understand human beings. But the one thing Sheldon was taught was when someone’s upset, you bring them a hot beverage. And I would recommend adding a cookie to that or a slice of pie or something that is soothing. What Gottman recommends is that when you’re really upset, take a time out. Count to ten, count to a hundred. Some of us need to count to 1,000. But give yourself a break to soothe yourself … and a relationship, a friendship that’s being damaged can get better. By the way, if you take a break, Gottman recommends this. Be sure to agree on a time when you come back together because otherwise the person feels abandoned. Instead, say Give me an hour to think about what you said. You deserve for me to think about it. Give me an hour. Give me a few hours. Let’s talk tonight, let’s talk tomorrow. Look forward to it. But I need to step back because I don’t want to say things that will make it worse.

Friends, you and I can do that even when we see other people doing these hurtful and harmful things to other people. We can bring God’s love and light into those friendships where people are doing harm to each other. And you heard me say this, let me say it again. I think that’s what it means when people see Christianity happening.

The prayer where our worship began, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” Friends, you and I can make a difference in a world that is falling apart, where people are angry and fighting and feuding with each other, if we will allow God to use us so that

when we encounter hatred, we sow love.
When you and I encounter injury, we sow forgiveness and pardon.
When you and I encounter doubt and anxiety, we can encourage people to have faith.
When we become aware that despair is rising up, we can counter that by talking about hope.
When things begin to feel dark, if not actually evil, we can shine light into darkness.

And as we become aware of sadness, we can shine joy into sadness. How? I want to tell you with great fear and trembling that occasionally, the woman I’m married to and I have a disagreement. And occasionally, that disagreement will get quite heated, especially if I pretend that I’m completely right and she’s completely wrong. (That’s a tip, husbands.) But what you don’t know is that– and for some bizarre reason, this typically happens in the car on a long trip. But in the pocket of the seat in the back, behind my back, I can reach around and get it while we’re driving. When it gets angry in the car, I pull out a book of jokes. And it’s quite bizarre. It usually takes three or four jokes to totally change everything that’s going on.

Let me tell you the joke that worked the best one day. Are you ready?
Knock, knock. (Pastor)
Who’s there? (Congregation)
Interrupting cow.
Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! [laughter]

She laughed for three minutes. I almost had to take the wheel. And all of a sudden, all the anger was gone because, friends, you and I can change what’s happening around us, especially if we let the Holy Spirit guide us.

Now, with regard to the Four Horsemen, the thing that does the most damage is criticism. When you become aware of criticism, you can show and sow some gentleness.

When you become aware of contempt, you can show some appreciation. “Dave, I know you’re really upset, but, wow, that tie looks really good.” It’s astonishing how someone who feels criticized and looked down on when somebody says to them, “You know what I really appreciate about you?” and you say that thing, it can change their whole day. Appreciation is very powerful.

Where there’s defensiveness, if you play a role in what’s wrong, admit it because they’re going to still want to argue with you until you do. Get it out of the way. Take responsibility for your part in the problem, whatever that might be.

And where there is stonewalling and people turning away, serve up some soothing. That hot beverage, that joke book, I don’t know, but serve up some soothing because Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” And the fact is, friend, no matter what side you’re on in the middle of an argument, no matter who you think is actually right, you can still bring peace when two people are making it worse and worse and damaging a friendship that should be a good thing.

So how is it going in your neighborhood? If your neighborhood is like what we’re experiencing, there’s just a whole lot of anxiety, there’s a whole lot of tension, there’s a whole lot of worrying. But if we allow God to use us, God can bring peace to the friendships and the relationships that we have with our neighbors.

Please pray with me. Lord, when people disagree, when people fight, when people get so angry, we’re afraid they’ll attack each other, Lord, quite often we just don’t know what to do. What a wonderful thing it is, Lord Jesus, that when we don’t know, you are wiser than we are. When we’re confused, Lord, you understand clearly. Lord, help us when people disagree, when people hurt each other, when people harm each other. Help us, Lord, to understand how, with the help of your Holy Spirit, we can be an instrument of your peace growing in the relationships we have with people all around us. We ask that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis )

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