Posts Tagged disciple
..and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” [NRSV]
The Question of the text is: “Are you on God’s side?”
Listening to the Mob:
- ..and the crowd ..could not even eat.
- The crowd of certified doctors: “He has gone out of his mind.”
- scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, (Scribe Debate)
- “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”
- “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.
- But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
- “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– for they had said,
- Diagnosis: “He has an unclean spirit.”
- Family comes to protect and save Jesus
Who is my family? Those who are on my side. Who’s side..
Summary: Mob is hungry, regional, compressed, out of bounds,
Note: Remember the temptation of Jesus starts with bread, the temple and at the mountain top boundary..
Name Calling: If you can’t think of what to say, start calling names.
He has Be-el-ze-bul. He is crazed because he is evil. Calling the presence of God crazy, evil, dangerous and out of control is backwards.
Be-El-ze-bul is interpreted as the “Lord of the Dung Flies”, a derogatory Lord of evil with twist of the tongue.
Jesus talks with the scribes in scribe-speak. Talk with a politician like a politician. Talk with a teacher like an educator; talk with a preacher like a preacher. Talk with a NASCAR fan like a NASCAR fan..
Jesus uses their knowledge, language, perspective to guide his corrective teaching
Who is in the family? Whose side do you favor… baby looks like mom or dad?
In recent report from several current religious research groups, namely the Barna Group, report clear trends of people no longer identifying themselves as Christian.
Primarily: they may not have been actively practicing the Christian faith, but it had previously been the safer thing to say about seeing oneself as a “Good Person” to say, “I am a Christian.”
Jesus is making a distinction between name calling and relationship.
Relationship that is more than blood-kinship.
Question: Am I a Christian or am I a disciple of Jesus Christ?
The Relationship of choice, a relationship that intentional.
Are you Christian in name our in faith?
Are you Christian in idea or practice?
Are you Christian by birth or choice?
Are you a Good Person by association or action?
Are you faithful to an idea or to God?
Family: Jesus is asking the religious folks and the crowd:
Are you and your family in God’s family, or have you created a religious family of your own?
Intentional Spiritual Growth
One of the five practice of fruitful congregations is the intentional work of feeding our spirit and choosing to live out our faith through our extended faith-family with God’s people.
We choose to belong to a community and not an idea-club.
So, Who’s side are you leaning toward:
God’s family or The family dynasty you determine.
Imagine Mary, Joseph, James, others siblings of Jesus.
Bottom line: Leaning on the Everlasting arms of God or leaning on our arm chairs calling the shots of life from our perspective, our tradition, our place of power, knowledge and comfort.
What happens when you point out that someone’s actions are not Godly… do they thank you, tune you out or rebel?
name calling doesn’t solve anything,
blaming might sound good but does not build relationships
not feeding your relationship leads to chaos…
Time for some intentional family dinner. Let’s eat!
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]
1. Jesus told Philip who told Nathanael who told Philip about Jesus.
Discipleship is process of networking.
The invitation is “Follow Me”. Go where I am going.
We are not called to tell people where to go nor what to do. We don’t have to have the answers, we just take them where we are going and growing.
Philip didn’t know it all, but he knew enough.
In knowing Jesus Christ, we know enough to lead us to a community faith, into small groups of study and prayer and Christian fellowship
Our mission is to invite others to follow. Come WITH me and we will find the Lord together.
Goal of fifty new members. Will you join me in finding one person who will follow you to church. Out of the 100-150 of us here, make it your personal mission to bring ONE person this year.
Philip Brings Nathanel, doubting and questioning and complaining, Nathaniel follows and is found by Jesus. Philip on askes Nat to follow, to come with me.
2. How could anything Good come out of the little town of Nazareth?
Nazareth: population 100-150, not included in the Talmud/OT as a city.
Rock Spring: population 4,500 in 2012. Villanow at 1900. Plainville 375. The smallest incorporated village in Georgia is my home town, Garfield with a population of 202 souls.
- Steve Wozniack was an electronics hacker, and he and his long time friend Steve Jobs had this idea to create a personal computer. In 1976, the two approached a local electronics store to see if they would be interested in buying a personal computer that Wozniack had built. Their first order was for 50 “Apple” computers.
- In 1971, three academics each invested $1350 of their own money into the first Starbucks located in downtown Seattle. English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker opened the store called Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice
- In 1978, twenty-five year old college dropout John Mackey and twenty-one year old Rene Lawson Hardy, saved and borrowed money from family and friends to open the doors of a small natural foods store in Austin, Texas. Within a year of opening the store, the couple was evicted from their home for using their apartment storage for the store. Homeless and with no place to go they decided to save costs by moving and living at their store full time. Since their store “Saferway” was zoned for commercial use only, there was no shower stall. According to the company’s website, the two instead bathed in the Hobart dishwasher, which had an attached water hose.
- In the spring of 1891, the 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr. moved from Philadelphia to Chicago with only $32 to his name. Soon after arriving in Chicago, Wrigley began selling soap. As an incentive to the customers, if they purchased his soap, he would give them a free can of baking powder. Soon baking powder proved to be more popular than the soap he was selling, so he switched his business. A year later, in 1892, Wrigley used chewing gum as an incentive for buying his baking powder. Again, chewing gum proved to be more popular than baking powder, and so he switched business again. The first brand of chewing gum Wrigley produced was Juicy Fruit in 1893.
What good can come from RSUMC? Look at the (bulletin). Years ago folks would have said nothing but look we have living witnesses.
What good can come from sharing Christ with folks with whom we work, school, live, play, shop and travel? Nothing in we don’t invite them to follow.
The greatness is not in the size of the person nor the size of the church. Greatness is found in the responding to the invitation to find Christ
Examples of greatness coming out of small beginning
3. Trust the witness of Philip as if Jesus told you first hand.
Trust that you might not be able to reach everyone, but there is someone who will follow you, someone who will journey with you.
We might want it to be someone we know, a family member or someone we conveniently see each week or day.
I keep asking and inviting until i find one who will follow with me.
When the chapel was first built on this location, did the members see the need for an education building, or two, or a preschool, of the spring… who can imagine what ministries will call for what facilities 50 to 100 years from now. But the congregation we will be is shaped by the faithful willingness of those who have paved and reached, taught and sung, praised and raised in times past, stand as a witness for us to continue to extend the invitation. Come, follow me.
The was once the slogan of the United Methodist Church, we moved to Open Door, Open Minds, Open Hearts, to Rethink Church to now the watch word is.. don’t ask, don’t tell.
Seriously, we are not limited by a slogan, our mission is follow Christ and to invite others to join our faith journey.
So why are you sitting here, when there are those still out there.
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” [NRSV]
The power of process
Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness is very METHODICAL. (He’d make a good Methodist)
Too often I hear the story of people who get upset with the church or church people and especially the preacher/pastor. On one hand, not one of us is closer to God nor is anyone of us loved more than the other. We all make mistakes. We have all offended and rejected people, intentionally and unintentionally. On the other hand Jesus is telling Matthew and the other disciples persistence in dealing with conflict.
First confront the person one-to-one, (Don’t talk about, gossip, imply to those who might say something.) Take responsibility for your part of the conversation.
Second, if that does not work, take witnesses. (This is its own category, we will discuss in a moment)
Third, take the whole matter to the community. The need of the individual is relevant to the larger community.
Most folks give up before starting the process. We talk to everyone, except those directly involved and want someone else to confront. The next time conflict arrises. Try talking one-on-one, express your experience and expectation. Give the other person or party the opportunity to respond. If they don’t confront and share the same, take a witness or two. If the few of you can’t resolve it continue to expand the pool of witnesses and perspectives.
The power of a witness
A Witness may not be someone who saw or heard the events in question, but can hear and see the follow-up conversation. Think of the role of a counselor or a referee. Someone who can help us speak the truth, speak our hearts and confront with word rather than rage or worse.
This model of witness is our general role as Christian disciples. We are not witnesses to the events of the first century Jesus, but we ARE witnesses to the Word and Work of Jesus and the church in the 21st century.
The power of binding
In wedding we often refer to a couple “tying the knot.” This is symbolically seen in the double fisherman’s knot. For fly fishing it works well to join a leader line to the main line. The more loops on each knot makes the end resulting knot when tightened together one of the strongest of all knots, because of the equality of pressure.
How we respond as a faith community and church family tell our salvation story. If people see and hear us upset over money, property, shared space in the building, and not see our feeding the hungry, embracing the oppressed and being friends with the sinners then we fail the opportunity entrusted to us. Which in some cases lasts for generations.
“Granddaddy said those church folks are cheats and liars” that’s why we don’t go to that church. Half of our work in witnesses is usually untying knots we didn’t tie and never knew were their.
Homework: show someone how to tie a knot, a shoelace, a neck tie, a hair bow, a fishing knot and talk with them about what knots need to be kneaded out, loosen and untied to free up people for the opportunity of grace and love.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [NRSV]
Are you blessed? Look at the blessing side of these equations:
- Citizenship in Heaven
- Comforted here and now.
- Inheritors of the earth
- Filled with Satisfaction
- Swimming in Mercy
- Able to see God’s presence
- Known to be God’s child
- Have a place in heaven
- Heavenly Reward Waiting
Character Traits of the faithful
- Poor in spirit, Mourning, Meek
- Righteousness Seekers, Mercy, Seekers of God’s heart
- Makers of peace; Teased, Taunted, Tested and Tormented for doing what is Godly.
Jesus begins his teaching ministry to the crowds with instructions that define the measurable, witness-able, tangible descriptors of those who ‘get it’, those who would be followers, disciples, Christians.
Look Around you today
Are you surrounding by the blessed or cursed? Honestly we are some of both, some of the time. This is why we continually repent, pray for forgiveness, and seek to live a new the new life we celebrate in Holy Communion.
We come to the table because we have turned the other way.
Jesus begins be giving us a measuring stick of identify and path toward citizenship.
Forgive me, for I have sinned.
- Forgive me, for I have acted like I knew better than God and other Godly saints.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten that you gave your son for my life. I forgot what that feels like.
- Forgive me, for I have stopped growing my spiritual relationship.
- Forgive me, for I have taken your grace, but not shown it to others.
- Forgive me, for I have not had pure thoughts, motives, actions and words.
- Forgive me, for I have not tried to make peace and even stirred up trouble myself.
- Forgive me, for I have persecuted others because they were different.
- Forgive me, for I have said and done all kinds of evil that does not reflect your presence in my heart and life.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten your Joy and misplaced your Gladness and Love.
Jesus words start as descriptors for Disciples and become daggers of conviction when we have not stayed on the path of Blessing.
An Opposing View
- Cursed are those who are full-of-themselves
- Cursed are those who stoic, selfish, and prideful,
- Cursed are those who know better than the rest of us
- Cursed are those who know better than God
- Cursed are those who judge with a log in their own eye
- Cursed are those who see only their wants and vision
- Cursed are those who to quiet to stop injustice or too loud in self-preservation
- Cursed are those who to sacred to be bold for God
The attitudes of Matthew 5.1-12 are the called such as they begin in our hearts and minds and then affect our actions and environment.
If our task is to make disciples of others for the transformation of the world, it begins by ‘checking’ our attitude to see if our heart and minds are God before we move to words and deeds.
Have someone ask you these questions this week and answer them honestly:
- Am I always right?
- Where does pride blind me and hinder others?
- Who knows best how to live in relationship with others?
- Am I willing to change what is broken in my life?
- Am I willing to see and feel how others feel and see life? And me?
- Will I speak bolding for God today? Each day?
- What scares me? Why would I be afraid if God is captain of our team?
What’s at Stake? EVERYTHING
- Being Blessed or Curse.
- Being included or outside.
- Saved or Damned.
- Loved or hated
- Remembered or forgotten
- God’s or my Own.
What is God doing about it?
- Has given us Christ to follow
- Has given us Christ for our sin
- Has given us Christ for living
- Has given us The Spirit for power and guidance
- Has given us the Church for fellowship and encouragement
- Has given us Word to study, learn, grow and share
- Has given us Music to tell and share
- Has given us ministry to share and reach
- Has given us resources to build and invest
The question, Our Question:
“What am I doing about my attitude and my actions as child of God?”
Come to the Table and start fresh in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Come to the table and be filled, anew.
1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” [NRSV]
The shrewd manager takes justice into his own hands.
It is most likely the custom that those who would lend to the poor would also be those who took advantage of the poor. Charting higher interest rates to those at greater risk.
Intuitively it is a practice that never makes sense. If lenders and retailers who extend credit want to charge those who have the least to spend the highest rate, it seems to be a set up for failure and a greater oppression than not extended credit in the first place.
In the recent years of banking giving loans to those who would not qualify and investment firms reselling debt accounts to the highest bidder, so collection agencies can profit even further from oppressing the poor. Where is the justice in this practice?
Traditionally the parable has been only about the juggling of the accounting without regard to why the bills were so high in the first place.
If you drive around a large city, you will find the the gas prices higher in the poorest communities. You will find grocery stores higher priced with lower quality good near communities where neighbors have no other transportation and only have the option to walk to the closest store. In this text the owner has charged twenty or thirty percent more than the usual rate.
So the manager is trying to show some justice in the situation, hoping that when he is laid off the poor would look kindly and graciously at them.
Think of it, if you were about to loose your job from a tyrant of an employer and you could bring some justice in the community, playing the part of Robin Hood and his merry followers. Would you want to steal from the king to win the hears of the common folk?
So much political rhetoric is preached everyday about the evil of the wealthy in our country and how they should be made to pay their share and the share of the poor. It’s just not a good system of economics.
The parable is about relationship.
The warning is to guard from making friends by buying their relationship.
As a church we want to extend radical hospitality, but we don’t want people to come because they can take advantage of our generosity.
As Christians we want people to like us but at times we are indeed sheep sent out among wolves. Choose your relationship not by what you get out, rather choose by God’s guidance.
We want our children and grandchildren to have lots of friends and be well liked at school, but not because of fashions, toys and gadgets. We want them to friends of good character.
This is the point of Jesus’ parable. Be of God character and not the world’s. Even it seems reasonable from the world’s standards, this is not our measuring stick.
Secondly the parable is about what we manage compared to what we allow God to manage in our lives.
The shrewd manager takes care of the situation himself. He has a plan to take care of himself and to put the owner in his or her place and come out smelling like a rose for caring for the poor and oppressed.
Helping the poor is great.
Seeking justice is wonderful.
Being a responsible worker and good manager are great attributes.
Look instead at the motives, agendas and flawed reasons behind our self-preservation.
God promises to provide, guide and fill our lives, asking us to receive, follow and trust God in all times.
Bottom line: Serve God and not ourselves.
25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. [NRSV]
The Cost of Discipleship: Hate your family and carry your cross. How many of you want to sign up?
- The Cost of Discipleship: A building project that needs to be completed
- The Cost of Discipleship: A Battle as the underdog, who had the options for seeking peace.
- The Cost of Discipleship: Give away all your possessions. Who is left to follow?
Why so strict and exclusive?
Disciples redefined: Family comes second to Jesus. Still a hard saying but think of the covenant faith in the context of Jesus’s day: In his context: People would say, we are part of Aarons’ family, we are covered, we have connections.
Jesus redefines family as those who love God as our core family rather than automatically our biological family. (Be clear: I’m not saying that every thing under the umbrella of church should come first, but our relationship to God supersedes all others.
If that is not hard enough, Jesus redefines our self-worth. God does not measure us with a profit and loss statement. It is not about our wealth or debt. It is not about our good works or our sins.
Jesus calls into question first the relationships and then the things that we confuse our: 1 confidence and trust, 2 our value and worth, and 3 who’s work drives our lives.
Jesus speaks of carrying ‘the’ cross. The cross is the sign of ultimate self-less gift of placing all else down and picking up the very thing God calls us to do.
Often we define my cross is different from your cross. The catch is that the cross is neither mine nor your cross. It is God’s work that we carry.
- Have you ever wondered if we took these words literally that the church would not be struggling for members but would the greatest force for good?
- Have you ever wondered if we took these radical and extreme forces of guiding our lives that we would be free from so many rules, fears and limitations?
- Have you ever wondered if we took Jesus at his word in these basic actions, that we would see the same powers, healing, transformations, and life that Jesus shows?
We are quick to water them down. We excuse each other trying to make it easier on each other.
The two mini parables Jesus tells in the context of discipleship are about the process of building and the gift of discernment about choosing our battles.
These are the HOW TO part of this disciples lesson.
If the requirements are outrageous, so should be the ways to faithfully follow
First, as a building project, our life as a disciple is built over time. It is not immediate. Even the Apostle Paul with is conversion on the Damascus road, is transformed from passionate life of rule following, through a radical blindness, to see that the rest of his life was God and not his own. The progressions of faith in his letters give witness to the depth of faith that builds over time. The letter to the church at Thessaloniki addresses problems and disputes. The book of Romans his latest letter is thick with faithful thought and practice.
Second, discipleship is learning the wisdom to choose our battles. There is more than one way to show our faithfulness. We need to be cautious when were here there are four simple truths or seven habits or three priorities that sum of our lives.
We may have core values, but how we use those basic beliefs shapes us in 360 degrees.
The So What? Bottom line
Jesus makes it clear:
Discipleship is not easy, but it is worth seething through to the end.
Discipleship is about constant choices about our relationships, possessions and spiritual compass.
The challenge is for the church, filled with disciples to transform the world for Christ.
How we do it is not easy, but it is worth seeing it through
It calls for constant choices about our relationship, possession and spiritual compass.
Invitation to read “Remember the Future” Bishop Robert Schnase
10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
First this passage is an encouragement to the three mission teams we are supporting this month and the team of folks working at CERF and Smart Kids, Smart Lunch.
The number of folks willing to be available to take on a personal mission is limited. This is the heart of our Everywhere Missionary program.
The instruction is given the book-ends of encouragement and inspiration.
- On one hand there is the encouragement to know that we are going where Christ is preparing to go.
- Not everyone will be ready nor receptive
- The measure of successful mission is not in the number of people served, but in the willingness to go out to where the people are rather than wait for them to come to us.
- And instructions are given for both the open hearts and the closed minds.
I enjoy baseball and one of things I like about the game is that the successful players are celebrated for getting a hit thirty percent of the time.
- Jesus knows the six dozen folks that are going on this mission will not always see great things.
- But the reports that return are the success stories.
Think about the Braves, the end of the game wrap up is not how many times Freddy, Simpson, and McCain struck out. They talk about the hits, doubles and home runs.
But with the successes come plenty of strike outs and errors.
We come to the table of Christ, where disciples gather for encouragement and inspiration
Not because we are successful but rather because we have sinned, failed and find ourselves striking out.
Each of us have the opportunity to be on Christ’s mission..
Will go Go where Christ is preparing to be or sit this one out?
Everywhere Missionary EverywhereBrochure_20130501
- Pray Daily
- Do at least 1 item from the Mission Calendar* Weekly
- Read and Write Monthly
- Give or Volunteer Annually
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [NRSV]
Ringling Bros Circus prides itself in having the greatest show on earth. It’s impressive and big, but is it the greatest?
Tony the Tiger believes his Frosted Flakes are Great! I think Honey bunches of Oats are even better.
Olympics 1996, member and friend volunteer repairing the hand rail going up to the Olympic Caldron the night of the opening games. The torch arriving and he is duct taping at the last second. Turns around in the shadow, literally inches off camera and facing Mohamed Ali. The Greatest.
Greatness is not something that everyone seeks. In fact we could make a case that most folks want to stay out of the spotlight. Looking at the text, ten disciples are angry with two for raising the bar. If we are being evaluated or compared to our piers we don’t want them to do better than us because that would make us look bad. We have an unwritten pack to reach for the middle or even the lowest common denominator.
Jesus’ word is not to go looking for Greatness.
It will follow your trust and service.
Don’t set out with the intention to beat the system.
The life of discipleship (Being a Christian) is not to won or lost, it
Is received as part of the relationship with God.
We may not all long to be the top of the heap or the head of the pack, but who does not enjoy a long shower of glory and praise?
We like to be recognized, praised and appreciated.
We like seeing our name in the paper, (as long as its not bad news)
We like it when folks think we are “good people.” No one wants a bad reputation. (Notorious: Famous for being bad)
What would we do to be liked? Children learn at a young age that test and temptation of doing right or wrong to be “in” or “cool.”
Even as adults who say they don’t want attention or credit, we have an uncomfortable knot in the stomach when someone takes credit for good that we, or someone else, has done.
Looking at the text, Jesus looks to the disciples and says: “You don’t know what you are asking.”
It is both encouraging and affirming to have others praise what we do, but if we set out to be praised as our goal, then our efforts are empty.
Glory is the by-product of good that is has been done. This is true of God’s glory or our own. But if we set out to do good things with the hope and goal of receiving glory.. we find the work empty.
Why? If we go looking for the fruit without caring for the tree we have a meal but not a livelihood. Greatness and Glory comes from service..
A Life of Service, comes first.
Jesus uses the disciples struggle as a teaching point:
First: Don’t worry about being first in line. Work diligently to serve and greatness will follow
And: Don’t do it for the praise, the deduction or the credit and you will find joy, credit and the prize that service builds.
The last shall be first: it is a common theme in the gospels..
Why do we need to hear it repeated?
- We don’t have to tell people we are not looking for greatness/ glory/ credit/ praise/ approval/ when we actually are doing just that.
- We don’t have to qualify and apologize for acts of service or humility. They don’t need explaining or defending.
- As followers, we are disciples, those who are learning and developing what it means to be committed, trusting, disciplined in the path of Jesus.
Greatness comes from the Greatest.. Seek God not greatness
Glory and Praise are motivators… don’t seek them as the goal
Service: is the ideas and words of our faith in actions.. that shape the type of relationship we have with each other and God.
God comes to save the least, last and lost.. The rest of us know to follow, trust and love shown in Jesus Christ.
So lets’ get to the back of the line.