Archive for June, 2013
1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. [NRSV]
We have heard it for our entire life, and again through Vacation Bible School this year, yet again. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
There is a purpose and reason to why we are to be so neighborly.
It is the very reason Christ died and was raised into life,
Caring for someone the way we want to be loved, trusted, respected, and love… describes the character and nature of the relationship Christ died and lives to provide.
Verse 19 describes how neighbors might treat and related to one another, but this is not what Christ calls nor is it how we want to be treated.
The skinny is to just do it, be a neighbor wherever Christ sends us.
Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”– for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him. [NRSV]
This is a story of returning things right-side-up and up-side down world.
We can certainly identify a few things that are just the opposite in the world.
- There are people who’s paid-occupation is to chase deadly tornados and violent storms, and we a fascinated to watch them. Didn’t they get the memo so take cover in the basement or an inside room with no windows?
- The section of the bookstore labled, “self-help” has no shortage of people who are tell you how you can do what is already within your ability. It should be labeled the encouragement section.
- Bojana Danilovic has what you might call a unique worldview. Due to a rare condition, she sees everything upside down, all the time. The 28-year-old Serbian council employee uses an upside down monitor at work and relaxes at home in front of an upside down television stacked on top of the normal one that the rest of her family watches. “It may look incredible to other people but to me it’s completely normal,” Danilovic told local newspaper Blic. “I was born that way. It’s just the way I see the world.” Experts from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been consulted after local doctors were flummoxed by the extremely unusual condition. They say she is suffering from a neurological syndrome called “spatial orientation phenomenon,” Blic reports. 
- The map of global Christianity that our grandparents knew has been turned upside down. At the start of the 20th century, only ten percent of the world’s Christians lived in the continents of the south and east. Ninety percent lived in North America and Europe, along with Australia and New Zealand. But at the start of the 21st century, at least 70 percent of the world’s Christians live in the non-Western world—more appropriately called the majority world. More Christians worship in Anglican churches in Nigeria each week than in all the Episcopal and Anglican churches of Britain, Europe, and North America combined. There are more Baptists in Congo than in Britain. More people in church every Sunday in communist China than in all of Western Europe. Ten times more Assemblies of God members in Latin America than in the U.S. 
- “I am writing for the Christian agnostic, by which I mean a person who is immensely attracted to Christ and who seeks to show his spirit, to meet the challenges, hardships, and sorrows of life in the light of that spirit, but who, though he is sure of many Christian truths, feels that he cannot honestly and conscientiously ‘sign on the dotted line’ that he believes certain theological ideas about what some branches of the Church dogmatize.” – Leslie Weatherhead, “Christian Agnostic”
- Jesus didn’t die on the cross just so we would go to church. Jesus died for our sins and lives that we might live like him and work on his behalf, that is the right-side up.
The healing in Luke 8 of the man with unclean spirits is a reversal of events.
- A man who, without Jesus is filled with evil, pain, destruction and rage.
- The same man who meets Jesus and sits at his feet, is clothed, whole, sane, and desires to follow him.
- A town who is afraid of the man because he is ill, different, violent and a danger to himself and others
- Is made whole and they demand Jesus leave for healing him.
Jesus leaves the people with the witness of the healed man.
This is the state we currently know and experience:
Jesus has left us with the witness of what he has done in our lives for the upside-down time where and when we live.
So go and do likewise..
After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. [NRSV]
I tell you not even in Israel have I found such faith
For United Methodist her in the southeast, you might say, not even in Nashville, Candler nor Epworth-by-the-Sea. These epicenters for the work of our church Jesus highlights someone who is miles away for the expected place for faithfulness.
In this text, Jesus is in Capernaum and is talking about the actions of a Roman soldier’s leadership, witness and faith as a model for the community.
Crossing lines of division to find the heart of Jesus
The Centurion was a responsible officier of an elete guard representing Rome.
The Action plan is the same
Go, Come, Do
The table was prepared as Jesus told Disciples to Go prepare the table,
Come to the open table
and Do this in Remembrance