Of Gungor, Missions Trips, and the "Summer of Love" Sermon Series

Gungor masterfully captures the tension between a rebellious world and the power of the saints’ love in their new album “One Wild Life: Soul”. Their music tells a story of the Gospel’s beauty lived out in the lives of the Church despite opposition from worldly lies. It is an album written during a time of personal struggle for the band after experiencing opposition from Christian fans over their less than orthodox beliefs regarding the story of Noah’s ark. But while there are discernible moments of pain present in their music, the album is devoid of bitterness. Instead, there is an all encompassing message present in their songs: a cry to the Church to unite in love for the sake of our witness.

In their song “Us for Them”, they most clearly speak this charge.

Prepare the way of the Lord
Wielding mercy like a sword
Every mountaintop will be made low
Know, He holds the earth like dust
And His judgement comes to us
And His judgement is love
We will not fight their wars
We will not fall in line
Cause if it’s us or them
It’s us for them
— Gungor, 2014

In these words is the simplicity of a Christian’s charge from the Lord, but the intense difficulty of that same call. We are not prone to respond in love to our neighbor. We are not inclined to humbly step down from a challenge for the sake of our accusers. But that is the path our Savior walked, and the life he intends for each of his followers. “Cause if it’s us or them, it’s us for them.”

The desperate need for Christian love was more clearly demonstrated for me in the Czech Republic this summer. In a culture that is less than 1% Evangelical Christian, the light shining in the lives of God’s children is blindingly bright. When our non-Christian Czech students attempted to communicate the difference between us and them, it always began with our love. Whether they were marveling at our love for one another, or our acceptance of them, regardless of the circumstance, their favorite part of our week together was the love they experienced.

But what the students may not have been as perceptive to, was just how unusual our love was. Our team was blessed in being the oddest collection of individuals ever imagined for a mission’s team. I say this only slightly in jest. Our ages ranged from 14-60. Lifestyles varied from student, to young professional, to grandfather. Personalities spanned the continuum of extrovert to introvert. In a group of inestimable differences, it would have been impossible to identify points of unifying similarity. Except for, by the grace of God, the most obvious and only reason we were traveling together to the “obscure country” of the Czech Republic. We were blood bought believers of the Lord Jesus Christ, compelled by His love to spread the Gospel message to the corners of the Earth.

And therein lies the point. We live in a world where our rebellion has fractured all human experience--where deception and distraction are moment by moment battles for the believer. Sometimes we get so used to the raging war around us that we can’t recognize the battles that are ours to fight. Differences begin to feel like opposition and instead of “wielding mercy like a sword”, we wield the sword of defensiveness, or accusation, or gossip…. Soon love is not what sets us apart from the world. It is knowledge, doctrine, good works, discernment. The possibilities are endless. And if we continue down this path of personal distinction, it’s not long before the battle is no longer with the world. It is with each other.

Too often I am inclined toward this thinking: forgetting that nothing of myself was able to save me. Only the divine intervention of the eternal creator God through Jesus Christ. Paul’s clarity in 1 Corinthians 13 is inescapable. Any human power, any wisdom, any act of goodness or discernment is worthless without love. Our ministry to this world will be meaningless without love. Our message is indiscernible from the world if the heart of its message isn’t God’s love.

In the convoluted mess of deception we encounter in this world, our response is so basic it can be captured in a sentence. But it is so unnatural, it won’t be achieved without the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

There’s no need to shed more blood
Look upon the cross
See the face of Christ
See the mercy in His eyes
Every valley shall be lifted high
Now our enemies are blessed
The heavy laden rest
For His judgement is love
— Gungor, 2014

If you're interested in learning more about Gungor's new album, visit: http://www.gungormusic.com