Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Great Sermon Experiment, Week 4

Texts for Sunday, July 1

Galatians 5:13-25
Luke 9:51-62

And now comes the challenge. Last Sunday's text was about true freedom in Christ - Christ accepted even the prostitute because of her faith and love for him. But, both Jesus and Paul would remind us, don't think that let's us off the hook. I hear Bonhoeffer echoing in the background here with his "The Cost of Discipleship."

So for those of you responding,
- in the Gospel, Jesus pokes holes through three people who aren't wholeheartedly interested in following him. Who might this describe today? What excuses to people give for not completely giving their lives over to Christ
- In Galatians, Paul points out the possibility of using our freedom as an excuse to sin again. Do you know people like this? People who say "Well, it's all about grace, so I can do whatever I want. . ."?
- People tend to fall on one side or the other - they only think about the Jesus who loves everybody, even prostitutes, or they preach the Jesus who is harsh and demanding. Which do you most identify with? Which have you heard more? How do you think we can keep a balance between the two?
- How would you describe what it means to be guided by the Spirit? How does that work in your life? How would you explain this to a young Christian?


Linda Anderson said...

Experiment response - Week 4

With regard to the Gospel: Thank goodness Jesus is more tolerant and patient and compassionate than we are.

Often, throughout His ministry, Jesus was “on His way somewhere” and was compelled to minister along the way. He was accustomed to not being received because of who He was, because He was a Jew, because He ministered to a less acceptable person, because of His message of love and forgiveness, because He healed people, because He met needs on the wrong day of the week.

Those who do not want to follow Jesus completely have a multitude of excuses: Things are different now a-days. My life is too busy. I have to live in the world, so can’t be totally committed. I have all these other responsibilities. I’m on my way to church - I don’t have time to stop and visit that old man, or help that lady change her tire or to give directions. I’d better not be seen being friendly with that person, or my fellow Christians will reject me.

While I fall far short of success with doing, one of my favorite Scriptures is I Peter 2:21: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow IN HIS STEPS”. There are no conditions, no “only ifs” or “as long such-and-such is taken care of”. Jesus came to fulfill God’s plan and was committed to that first and foremost. Everything else falls into place after that commitment.

This verse in I Peter was the basis for Charles M. Sheldon’s book In His Steps. The gist of this story is that the pastor of a large affluent church felt moved to challenge both himself and his congregation to commit for one year to make every life-decision after first asking themselves “what would Jesus do?”. Although written at the turn of the last century, the message is still as relevant today as it was then. And to put the challenge into practice today would be equally as Scriptural, difficult and life-changing as it was then. As a result of the challenge, hearts were changed, lives were changed, lives were saved, people entered eternity with Jesus rather than lost, an entire town was changed. Imagine how the Key Peninsula (and the world) would be changed if we (I) took up this challenge.

How did these people in the book make their decisions on what Jesus would do? They were committed to much prayer and reading the Word. Therein was their guidance and understanding of what Jesus would do in a given situation. Scripture tells us to learn, study, devour, feast on the Word every day and to spend time in prayer, both talking and listening with our hearts. The Spirit reveals God’s direction to us during these times and all along the way, day in and day out. The more we know the Word, the more we know God. The more we seek Him, the more we find Him. The more we invite Him into our daily lives, the more of His presence we experience. He is always present. We need to allow Him to be a part of every moment of every day. The more we seek Him, the more we find Him, the more we desire to seek and have more of Him.

I am reminded of the new Christian enthusiasm with which we declared Christ at every opportunity, stood on street corners and college campuses and handed out tracts and smiled because Jesus had touched our lives. It was important to ensure that everybody knew. (Realize, of course, that by “we” and “our” I first mean “me”) Weren’t we lucky that maturity, passing years and life experience mellowed our enthusiasm to rational thinking and now we are selective about when and who we talk to about Jesus. We make sure that the time is right and the person is ready to hear. We are careful who we invite to the Christmas program, the regular service, or to play softball with us. We don’t need to always consider what would Jesus do? because the world is ever-changing and what used to apply doesn’t always now. And now that we have the up-to-date resources, we can re-analyze Scripture and find out what it really says and what Jesus really meant and determine how it really fits into our lives.

Love. Compassion. Everyone. Three simple words to truly follow Jesus. We make it complicated when it isn’t and shouldn’t be. The way is not always easy, smooth or pleasant, but the message is clear and the outcome is eternal.

Cleaver said...

These are challenging verses. They hit very close to home. Am I truly following Jusus in my dayly walk. Life has changed the last yearwith the commitmentto youth. I think when you commit spiritually that is, you need to follow thru, not to say let everything else go , but believe in the spirit to guide you. most will say it is not easy to commit , it challenges our usual daily routine, I find myself challenged in a GOOD way. This is not to say I never say no and some times the plate gets a little full, I just try and trust in the Lord to lead me.
I also believe that we as christians are held to a higher standard. That brings us back to the question "do you her God speaking to you?".
I would have to qualify myself as one who feels God as demanding/harsh yet in a loving way. I also at times find myself as the demanding one, not thinking of how my actions effect other people. Am i guided by the spirit when I do this, I think NOT. sometimes it takes a concious effort to be in that place with the Holy Spirit as we walk our physical lives. the above text was written prior to Sundays message. Dave and Ronna Husby are great examples of how the Lord worked in their lives , their two year commitment is now over twenty serving the Lord by serving others. How do I serve! How do I commit!

Shad Gates said...

I have so much to say on this week's scriptures and God has been really talking to me on these things, but my schedule is not allowing me any time to sit and write it out. This week I started my study with much more prayer than usual because I really want to give more to this experiement than just my thoughts. Anyway, to make a fairly long story short... I was asking the Lord to speak to me about this on-going struggle between grace and works and about three days into praying the Lord clearly said to me, it's about maturity. I was reading in Romans, the first part of chapter 12 when he spoke to me about this and I believe it to be a great part of this whole discussion. (Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.)

Going back to the child/parent relationship, the parent allows their child more freedoms as they become confident that the child will act appropriately when they're not around. This is the kind of freedom I believe Paul is talking about. That we be so full of God's word, wisdom and presence (renewing of your mind) that even when we're acting in freedom, we're acting in accordance with his good, pleasing and perfect will. Remembering again that God's will is ALWAYS best for us.