In today’s ancient story we find Jacob succeeding and happy after taking advantage of his naïve brother and tricking his failing father. Isn’t this the way it goes? Dishonesty pays. A subtle manipulation gets the handshake, the promotion and the good life. Yet, what if the good life could be better? On this second Sunday of Advent we discover that satisfaction, happiness and power are for those who strive, but joy, peace and love are afforded to those defeated by and surrendered to an All-Prevailing God.
“All the church wants is my money!” Living in a post-Christian culture has unique challenges. Loving neighbors in a society that, in many ways, is a reaction against Christianity is even more difficult. In this message you will be equipped and encouraged to love your neighbors in a way that may be more in line with Jesus’ approach than he approaches some of His followers (including us) have used in the recent past.
Ancient wisdom affirms, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1, ESV) Yet, according to the General Social Survey reported in Time magazine, “the number of Americans who say they have no close friends has roughly tripled in recent decades. ‘Zero’ is the most common response when people are asked how many confidants they have.” (Time March 18, 2015). During His time on earth Jesus lived in loving community with a handful of friends. Before His departure He commanded His small group to love one another as He had loved them. In this message we consider a few of the many reason why followers of Jesus should unite with a few others as one way to obey Jesus’ command to “love one another.”
Moses taught Joshua, Naomi taught Ruth, Elijah taught Elisha, and Paul taught Timothy. Mentoring is a Biblical model for formation. It is one of the most powerful tools that God can use to shape us to be more like Him. Much could be said for the social or vocational advantages that are inherent to the mentoring process, but one of the most valuable aspects of the unique relationship between mentor and mentee is that God uses it to shape the things we love.
Jesus invites each of His followers to join Him in his mission of love to help those who are far from God find a restored relationship with their Maker. Yet, most of us disciples struggle to know how to best serve those who don’t believe or behave like us. Fortunately, Jesus models an intentional approach for loving those outside His church. In this Sunday’s message and service we discover His way and receive His help to love our neighbors well.
Who did you vote for? How do you reconcile Genesis 1 and science? Should we baptize infants? Should children have cell phones? People have disagreements and genuine followers of Jesus have disagreements too. When these disagreements exist within the church should we ignore them, fight over them or seek to compromise in them? What if the way of Jesus was applied to disagreements among his followers? What if we showed the younger generation and the watching world that it is possible to love God and love others by humbly listening even in the midst of our differences?
Our world is full of hurting people waiting to be heard. Jesus’ solution is laborers—laborers who listen. What does it mean to be slow to speak? And what does it look like to be God’s laborer who truly listens?
When we have an opportunity to walk along someone else in their journey with God (i.e. mentor them / disciple them / guide them) what should we do? Rather than quickly grabbing a book to read together or making a list of topics to address, what if we followed the way of Jesus? After His resurrection, Jesus walked alongside two followers and modeled a beautiful, loving, freeing and life transforming approach for discipleship. In this passage we discover that loving listening precedes helping others grow in their relationship with God.
Have you ever walked away from a conversation thinking, “Why did I talk so much? Why didn’t I ask at least one question? Do you think they noticed?” How many questions did Jesus ask? Can you recall some of His best ones? What do you think is Jesus’ most famous question? What if we really followed Jesus? What if we sat with people, listened to people and asked them questions? Can you imagine how surprised and grateful our family, friends, classmates and coworkers would be
During His time on earth Jesus taught, healed, recruited, launched a worldwide movement and listened to people. Today we begin observing the Gospel writers portrayal of Jesus as a listening King who humbled Himself, sacrificed His time and gave people His love by sitting down to listen to them. Can you imagine the world’s astonishment if His followers did the same?