“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” is a proverb from the King James Version of the Bible. Monsignor Ronald Knox of Oxford in his book Enthusiasm states; “Men will not live without vision; … If we are content with the humdrum, the second-best the hand-over-hand, it will not be forgiven us.”
Throughout the ages men have needed a vision, and have seen it, have been ready to follow it. From time to time we think we have found one – science, sociology, humanism – but because we do not weld them together with spiritual strength they alone cannot save our civilization from disaster.
We are living on the spiritual capital of our ancestors and capital unreplenished does not last forever.
We have worshipped success, humanism, politics, money, self expression. Each in turn has proved useless in a world where the thoughtful are haunted by images of ruined cities, scarred lives, and starving children. Our minds, like men and nations are divided. Many of us are haunted by the knowledge that within the next few years, world society must lay hold of a way of life that works – or perish. We must discover the purpose of our existence and go back to the basics of working towards it.
God is always there – whether you realize it or not, whether you acknowledge him or not. When you identify and integrate God’s presence and LOVE in your life, the impact of his presence on you and your life can be an empowering force. Just consider God is Good, Creator and Controller of all.
(1 Clement 15:7-8)
“And above all he with his holy and pure hands, formed man, the most excellent, and, as to his understanding, truly the greatest of all other creatures, the character of his own image.”
“For so God says ‘Let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness. So God created man, male and female created he them.”
You have made the decision to become a Child of God, and join the Kingdom of God!
“For Jesus nothing is more precious than the Kingdom of God, i.e., the healing and renewing power and presence of God on our behalf. ‘Seek out his kingship over you, and the rest will follow in turn’ (Luke 12:31). Like a person who finds a hidden treasure in a vield or a merchant who discovers a precious pearl, everyone must be prepared to give up everything else in order to possess the Kingdom (Matthew 13:44-46). But it is promised only to those with a certain outlook and way of life (see the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12). One can inherit the Kingdom through love of one’s neighbor (Matthew 5:38-48), and yet one must also accept it as a child (Mark 10:15). Jesus assured the Scribe who grasped the meaning of the chief of the commandments (love of God and love of neighbor); You are not far from the reign of God (12:34). He also insisted to his disciples that their commitment to the Kingdom would make strong demands upon them (Mark 10:1; Luke 9:57-62; Matthew 19:12)” (Catholicism – Richard P. McBrien).
Have you ever specifically verbalized God’s reality, presence, or love to someone? What happened?
“I would know myself, I would know you (God).” Augustine wrote these words in one of his earliest works, and they pertain to us also here and now. If we come to know our proper relationship to life, we also need to come to know more about our Father in Heaven, and the other side holds true also. There are many parallels. What is the Good News of God? Jesus came to break the power of sin and begin God’s personal reign on earth (freedom, justice, and hope). You want to get down to business!
“This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand, reform your lives and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus came to be active and compassionate to the people around him. He exemplified tenderness when he healed the leper by touching him.
Jesus was a master at communicating love and personal acceptance. He did so when He blessed and held… little children. But another time His sensitivity to touch someone was even more graphic. This was when Jesus met a grown man who was barred by law from ever touching anyone again….
To touch a leper was unthinkable. Banishing lepers from society, people would not get within a stone’s throw of them. (In fact, they would throw stones at them if they did come close!)… With their open sores and dirty bandages, lepers were the last persons anyone would want to touch. Yet the first thing Christ did for this man was touch him.
Even before Jesus spoke to him, He reached out His hand and touched him. Can you imagine what that scene must have looked like? Think how this man must have longed for someone to touch him, not throw stones at him to drive him away. Jesus could have healed him first and then touched him. But recognizing his deepest need. Jesus stretched out His hand even before He spoke words of physical and spiritual healing.
(From The Gift of the Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent)
Jesus shows us the power of gentle love. Who do you have trouble “touching” because they are not loveable in any way? Love requires more than words, compassion requires action. Look for ways to express compassion to those who are starving for a tender touch.
What is the “time of fulfillment,” and the “reign of God” mean to you?
Time is running out! What are you going to do about it?
“The New Testament, therefore, says that we are to live according to the demands of the Kingdom of God. We are to make God the center and source of our being” (Catholicism-Richard P. McBrien, Pg. 962).
Commitment? “Love me with all your heart” became the great commandment from God (Deut. 6:5). It indicated not jst the top requirement set by God for our behavior but also His deep desire to be known and loved by His human creatures and to interact with them.
“Religious conversion is a total being-in-love with God: Heart, soul, mind and strength” (Catholicism-Richard P. McBrien, Pg 962).
How do I start?
The kingdom of heaven must arrive in our hearts. This means turning away from our self-centeredness and “Self” control and turning our life over to Christ’s direction and control.
“From that time Jesus began to preach his message: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near!”
How has coming to know Jesus been like moving from darkness to light for you?
You have turned your life over to God your Father and have rejected evil and your earthly desires.
“Why are you so frightened? Jesus answered. “What little faith you have!” Then he got up and ordered the winds and the waves to stop, and there was a great calm.”
You have realized that if you don’t trust your Heavenly Father and turn your life over to Him, Life has very little meaning.
No plan – Our God would not be in ultimate control.
No promise – Our gospel would be empty.
No power – Our faith would be aimless wishing.
No pardon – Our sins would stain our souls.
No peace – Our fear of the future would rob us of the joy of living.
No purpose – Our life would be a cul-de-sac with no exit.
(God’s Will in Your Life, Dr. Lloyd John Ogilive).
Trust in your Father in Heaven, has now become what you desire most.
“everyone will be purified by fire as a sacrifice is purified by salt.”
What can you do to “salt” your relationships with peace this week?
But their is still considerable challenges (e.g. difficulties of life, etc.) you must deal with. The kingdom of heaven begins with the work of God’s Spirit in peoples lives and in relationships with our hearts.
Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. His answer was. “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. No one will say ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; because the Kingdom of God is within you.”
(Gospel of Thomas: Saying 112)
“His disciples said to him, ‘When will the kingdom come?’ ‘It will not come by looking for it. Nor will it do to say; Behold, over here! or Behold over there! Rather the Kingdom of the Father is spread out on the earth, but people do not see it’!”
An important question enters your life; “How do I make use of the Kingdom of God within me?”
(John 10: 34-35)
“Jesus answered “It is written in your own law that God said, “You are gods.’ We know that the scripture says is true forever; and God called these people gods, the people to whom his message was given.”
What “old ways” of looking at Jesus must you overcome by faith?
If Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within us and that we are God’s; how do I make use of that power to reach Heaven, and the happiness on earth that he promised us, Well this is the search that we hope to take you on within this course.
“I want to suggest that the primary focus of theology is the life and work of Christians, both their private and public lives, in the church and in the world. I would argue that the fundamental beginning point of theology is simply the questions, the issues, and the problems which arise in the life and work of Christians and in their communal life in the church. This is where theology becomes a necessity and not merely a hobby or a game” (Theological Questions-Owen C. Thomas).
How are you a member of the body of Christ?
We are told to address God as “Father” – even being so bold as to call him “Abba,” the Aramaic word for Daddy or PaPa. Jesus has included all of us into the great family of God. Thus, he has given us a commonality with each other, a ground for relationships, and the possibility of living with each other in deep and meaningful ways.
Becoming a child of God is like being adopted. You get a family in the bargain. The new faces may be blurred. But gradually the faces become familiar, and you begin to develop a bond with some of the relatives.
When you first commit your life to God, you might feel pretty much alone.
But, Jesus taught his disciples to pray by saying, “Our Father…” (Mt. 6:9). When we receive Christ as our Savior, we become the “children of God” (Jn. 1:12. If God is our Father and we are his children, then all other believers are our brothers and sisters. Jesus said that; “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12:50).
One of the purposes of this course is to introduce you to the genealogy of your family. You and I are branches on a family tree.
In this course, we will explore what it means to be part of God’s family. We will look into the potential of our life and discover the depth of relating that our God offers to each of us. We will learn about the impact that our relationship with God has upon us.
In the first lessons, we looked at our need for both the secular and the spiritual. We delved into how God met people’s needs. We grew in our understanding of the ways in which God meets our own deep needs and we acquired a greater appreciation of how God meets deep needs through us.
All I Need to Know
Phyllis C. Michael
Teach me, O Lord, to see Your love
In every drop of rain;
Teach me to feel Your presence near
Yes, even when there’s pain.
Teach me to praise Your name by faith
Whatever comes my way,
To know that midnight hours will fade
Before the light of day.
Teach me acceptance, Lord, I ask,
Submission to your will,
Not resignation – but the grace
To seek Your wisdom still
Teach me that wells some times run dry,
That rivers overflow
But You are always in control –
That’s all I need to know.
God has created us as multifaceted people. We are physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual people. Perhaps the most difficult of those facets to give expression to is the spiritual dimension. This spiritual dimension is what we will concentrate on in this course.
We will seek to understand spiritual needs more fully, both in ourselves and others. God is with you now and he is going to bless you with understanding, and fellowship in your church.
So, “Shalom.” Have you ever noticed that no matter how well you live your life, something always seems to be missing? God’s response to that frustrating human condition is his offer of wholeness. Jesus came so that we can have a life that is full and whole. In the second half of John 10:10, Jesus said that he came so that we might have life and have it “over abundantly.” He calls us to experience that “over abundant” life.
In this course we will discuss and experience wholeness. We will look at ourselves to discover some of the blocks keeping us from wholeness. You have asked for and now you will receive God’s guidance.
“You are gods, I said; all of you are sons of the most High.’ But you will die like men; your life will end like that of any prince.”
We started a search for some answers, within the Introduction; let us continue on that search. We should start with God’s Word and Wisdom.
“Where, then, is the source of wisdom? Where can we learn to understand? No living creature can see it, not even a bird in flight. Even death and destruction admit they have heard only rumors. God alone knows the way, knows the place where wisdom is found, because he sees the ends of the earth, sees everything under the sky.”
Job claimed that God’s wisdom supersedes all human wisdom. Nature cannot tell everything about God’s wisdom. For further insight we must look at God’s Word.
God know me! He knows every tear I cry. “Thou hast taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Thy bottle” (Psalm 56:8). God knows every trial we go through, and His wisdom allows each to happen….
God is perfect in His wisdom. As the sun cannot be without light, neither can God be without wisdom. He was wisdom originally. Men acquire wisdom through experience; God has it by essence. He does not have to study or gain more experience. God has wisdom perfectly. He has absolutely no ignorance. He has wisdom universally. Men are wise in various things. God iis wise in all things. He has wisdom perpetually. Man’s wisdom fades near death. God’s wisdom is everlasting. His wisdom is incomprehensible. The wisdom of one man may be comprehended by another. “Canst thou by searching find out God?” (Job 11:7) His wisdom is infallible. Even the wisest men fall short of their goals. God never fails.
(From The God You Can Know by Dan DeHaan)
How will you strive to be wiser and more understanding person this month?
God’s wisdom is His Plan for everything. Wisdom’s children live changed lives.
“God’s wisdom, however is shown to be true by all who accept it.”
Would you be more effective if you lived differently? Why?
Well if his word and plan is true; how can we make use of it, to respond to the challenges we face?
What does it mean to be human?
Is there really more to life than meets the eye?
Let us start by working on your personal faith (wisdom concerning God). Christian faith therefore is personal knowledge of God acquired through Christ.
(1 Clement 17:7-8)
“But how, beloved, shall we do this? We must fix our minds by faith towards God, and seek those things that are pleasing and acceptable unto him.”
“We must act comfortably to his holy will; and follow the way of truth, casting off from us all unrighteousness and inequity, together with all covetousness, strife, evil manners, deceit, whispering, detractions; all hatred of God, pride and boasting; vain glory and ambition.”
What clues can we look far in ourselves to determine whether we are acting out of servanthood or servitude in a given situation?
Faith is not primarily belief in truths (propositions) which have been revealed to us by God through the Bible and the Church; rather it is the way we come to the knowledge of God as God.
The object of faith, is God, our Creator, Judge, and Savior. It is our perception of God in the midst of life.
(1 Clement 17:23)
“But who are his enemies? Even the wicked, and such who oppose their own wills to the will of God.”
For the interpretation of one’s faith is theology itself. Theology is as St. Anselem of Canterbury defined it, “Faith seeking understanding.” Theology is that process by which we bring our knowledge and understanding of God to the level of action.
(1 Clement 17:36)
“let the wise man show forth his wisdom not in words, but in good works.”
The New Testament also commands Christians to press on toward Christ – Likeness (Phil. 3:12). All of us Christians are to strive to grow in spiritual maturity because growth doe not happen automatically.
It is a gradual process by which Christians grow toward our home in heaven. In theology, this process of growth is referred to as sanctification. Prayer and Bible study are part of the process. Only through God can one become holy, but God has chosen to use his Word and our Communion with him in prayer as a means to that end. By communicating with God and reading his Word, we provide a way for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.
The purpose of this lesson is to suggest which theological interpretation may be best to meet your purpose in life.
“Belief” is a formulation of the knowledge we have of God through faith. There are many Christian beliefs, even though there is only one Christian faith (the knowledge of God through Christ).
Even so in the New Testament there is little sign of the deep vocational difference which would shortly show up in the Church. Quite plainly, the New Testament word for clergy (kleros) refers not to a special order among Christians. And the word for laity (laos) refers not to a receipient part of the congregation but to all Christians. All are called to one service, and all alike are God’s people. ‘And ye are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people (laos), that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light’ (1 Peter 2:9).”
A primary reason, Christians become entangled in the web of servitude is the fear of not pleasing God enough. “Have you experienced this fear?” What other problems might this fear cause in a person’s life? What is God’s answer to this fear?
“Among the first Christians every man, however he lived and worked, ministered in the parish in which he lived and worked. There were leaders and teachers and special spokesmen, of course. But they did no more than show or set the direction of every Christian’s obligation.”
“Today, in a continuing effort to reclaim the priesthood of all believer, Protestants who note their own repeated failures are putting most emphasis on the common service to which the doctrine bids all Christians. ‘Every shoemaker can be a priest of God, and stick to his own last while he does it,’ said Luther. Whoever, wherever we are, whatever we do, we are ministers of God” (A Handbook of Christian Theology – Priesthood of Believers – Theodore A. Gill).
The “universal priesthood of all believers” is a fundamental Christian concept. Again and again the Bible states that every Christian, regardless of his or her station in life, shares with other Christians the privileges and responsibilities of the faith. (Exod. 19:6; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Rec. 1:5-6; 5:9-10; 20:6).
Regardless of who you are, you need to take this concept of “universal priesthood” with utter seriousness. All Christians need to put their priesthood into action – giving glory to God. You have the resources of Christianity available for your use. So do not hesitate to use these resources to give him the glory due. and the way to start, is to give him the obedience due.
(Ignatius to Ephesians 1:18)
It is therefore fitting that you should by all means glorify Jesus Christ who had glorified you.” that by a uniform obedience ye may be perfectly joined together, in the same mind, and in the same judgment; and may all speak the same things concerning everything.
One must admit one’s own helplessness and make oneself open to divine control and assistance (grace) (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith, according to Paul, is also obedience (Romans 1:5; 16:26), demanding total surrender. And it is not accomplished in a single act. Faith must grow (2 Corinthians 10:15). The believer passes from ignorance of God to the knowledge and love of God through the action of the Spirit (Galatians 4:8-9); Ephesians 4:18; 5:8; 2 Corinthians 4:6).
(Ignatius to Ephesians 3:14)
“For the beginning is faith; the end is charity; and these two joined together, are of God; but all other things which concern a holy person are the consequences of these.”
Faith being a personal knowledge of God, is even more a trust and total commitment of the self to God, a commitment of heart as well as of mind.
“Trust in God at all times, my people, tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge.”
In what do you trust first; God, yourself, people or money? What second, third? If you are willing to trust a plane or car, are you willing to trust God?
“It is better to trust in the Lord than to depend on man.”
We can live in assurance and calm. Despite troubles around us, if we love and trust God, he will be with us. We have nothing to fear if we put our trust in our Guardian.
We have the assurance that in the storms of life today. Jesus Himself will be standing just outside the door waiting to be invited in. He is waiting to share a meal with us, waiting to share our sorrows, to renew our courage, to come in and talk intimately.
We are not alone. We never shall be. He has to be there; all we need do is open the door to Him. What is your need today? Do you need comfort in your personal trials? Christ is waiting. Do you need forgiveness for your sins? He is knocking. Do you need to make a new commitment to serve God with your life? Whatever your spiritual need, right now Christ is knocking at the door of your heart. He is Lord of the universe, and He wants to be Lord of your life as well.
(From Storm Warning by Billy Graham)
What will you depend on today for your needs? Although you may be tempted to trust earthly means more than God, have more confidence in God than anything else.
Where do you need help right now? Joy? Victory? Success? What promise do you hold on to?
It grows, and may even be started within a given community of believers. This knowledge and community must always come second to the rejection or acceptance of God’s guidance and written word, as the controlling influence in our lives. This guidance comes from Old Testament, God’s word – made flesh in Jesus Christ, and then of that Word by the Apostles and the Church as long as it does not conflict with Christ’s word or God’s in the Old Testament.
We must have obedience – obedience to the Commandments and to the New Law of the Gospel. In order to obey we need to acknowledge that we must turn over control of our lives to his control, and admit that we cannot and should not control our lives. Let the fear of God do its work in you to keep you from sin. In your gratitude for God’s love, don’t ignore his justice.
“Sin speaks to the wicked man deep in his heart; he rejects God and does not have reverence for him. Because he thinks so highly of himself he thinks that God will not discover his sin and condemn it. His speech is wicked and full of lies; he no longer does what is wise and good. He makes evil plans as he lies in bed; nothing he does is good, and he never rejects anything evil.”
St. Paul urges us to worship God “in a way that is worthy of thinking beings” (Romans 12:1). Therefore we will use our reason to better understand our relationship to God.
One example of this is the very fact; that humanity has ingrained in their very nature, a conscience, a knowledge of right and wrong. This has to be explained as to why we as humans have this very unique capability. Their is no animal that has this capability, along with creativity, initiative, etc. Therefore how did we :evolve into this ability. Why did we “evolve” into this ability. What is it’s purpose. Without “God” and the rest of the relationship to him, we open up more, and more questions. With him, we answer many questions.
Theology is not simply talk about God, or about Christ, or about the Bible, or even about faith; but coming to a better, clearer, understanding of his or her own faith and it’s use in everyday life. This faith in God and in Christ, grown through “Help” available to us in the Bible, in the Church, or wherever God provides.
We must be careful not to limit our Theology to just the Bible. If this were true than how did the Church start or exist without it in place, fully formed and defined. Since Christ did not write it; but others controlled and influenced by the Holy Spirit; where is it written by God that this control and influence by the Holy Spirit has ceased.
We find when we study the New Testament that the Church had started to interpret Christ’s Words and to develop tradition’s which it operated in. Paul uses the word tradition in 1 Corinthians 11:23 and 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5. This is shown in many families or communities, that traditions develop which reflect the approved method of action in specific situations. But once these methods aare no longer appropriate or proper tradition changes. God’s Word does not change. The Bible is itself the product of tradition – of many traditions in fact. Tradition refers (in Christian terms) to the whole process of “Handing on” God’s Word.
Why do we have to have this training? The leading reason is our predisposition to seek after our own power and Godhead. This is known in Christian circles as “original sin.”
“The concept of “original sin” is even more offensive to most modern men than the concept of sin. It’s original meaning was “inherited sin” or “erbsuende,” and Christian orthodoxy explained it as a taint which all men inherited from the fallen Adam. The concept had no place in Jewish thought. This gives rise to some interpretations which contrast the so-called optimism of Judaism with the pessimism of Christianity. Actually the jewish doctrine of the “evil inclination” (yetzer ha-ro) which every man has inherited sin, but spoke only in terms of the rabbinic doctrine of the evil inclination.”
“Whatever may be the traditional doctrine, the real issue is the universality of the corruption which results from undue self-regard. Certainly no one would regard a traditional doctrine of a transmission of evil from generation to generation as meaningful. But the idea of a universal inclination in the human heart of self is not only meaningful but is empirically verifiable. It means merely that the capacity and inclination of the self to give its interests undue regard can arise on every level of culture and of moral attainment. The taints of vanity in the lives of the saints would attest to the inclination as well as the power lusts of a Napoleon or Hitler. The universality of the taint does not preclude the possibility of mitigating or aggravating egotism by education, social engineering , cultural disciplines, or any other method of channeling or transfiguring man’s basic and inordinate self-regard. Nor would it preclude the relation of this self-regard to all forms of creativity. Actually all creative impulses are probably inextricably related to the self-regarding ones, but not in such a way that the latter are absolute prerequisites of the former. It is significant that political science usually presupposes some version of the doctrine of original sin despite the unpopularity of the concept in modern culture since the Enlightenment” (Reinhold Niebuhr-Sin-A Handbook of Christian Theology).
In the end, Christian theology is a effort to come to terms with, and to express, our experience (knowledge) of God through Christ and other ways and what he expects of his children.
In the New Testament Jesus, as the revelation of true humanity, is, obversely, a revelation of the disruptive pride which prevents men from enjoying the harmony and union for which they were indented and made. The words of Jesus underline the fact of Jesus. Over and over again he commends “the meek” and “the poor in spirit” who follow in the direction of their original and ultimate reality; over and over again he repudiates the self-sufficiency, self-assertion; self-advertisement which are the ugly, visible site of pride.
“Men are great in their freedom, their transcendence, their consciousness of self and of self being conscious of self. It is part of their greatness that they know their finitude, their contingency, their dependence. And the anxiety that comes from that knowledge is the panic which drives them to their own security, men would be themselves the divinity who alone is independent, not contingent. Each man identifies his own truth, his own goodness, his own creativity with a divine truth, goodness, creativity. The end is always confusion, for each of man’s illusions conflicts with the others; and events inevitably smash the whole pretense. Each man reaches out for the power, prestige, property with which to buttress his own existence. The effort is foredoomed to failure.
“The pride which Christians are called to repent is not a social nuisance, but a universal tragedy. Such pride is the self’s self-defeating, destructive centering upon itself – which self can never even be itself until pride is broken and the self knows its center in God. Appropriate self-respect comes only when there is a real self to respect, when pride is past, when we accept the significance we cannot establish, when we trust God for the ultimate security He alone can guarantee” (A Handbook of Christian Theology – Pride – Theodore A. Gill).
From our “pride” to “God’s Kingdom” is where we should move.
“In being truly converted to the kingdom of God, everything we do assumes its direction, purpose, and meaning in light of the Kingdom, i.e., in light of God’s will. This does not rule out the possibility, indeed the probability, that we shall occasionally act against this fundamental choice for God. But only a fundamental reversal of that choice (what the traditional testbooks called “aversio a Deo,” a “turning away from God”) is sufficient to cancel out the original decision to understand oneself in relation to God and to orient one’s whole life in view of that new self understanding” (Catholicism-Richard P. McBrien XXVI, 955).
As we have read, as long as we do not quit loving God with complete commitment to him and eager to receive his Love, we can continue on in this Love. We have to approach this Love as a Child. We are to be childlike with humble and sincere hearts, weak and dependent people with no status or influence.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
So Jesus called a child, had him stand in front of them, and said, “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.”
What childlike quality do you need to recapture? Why?
Humility and Love can make us the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. So how do we achieve these qualities? God provided us with our earthly plan of growth to become mature members of the family of humans in order to give us a living parable of how we can become mature members of His family. We shall look at these parallel growth plans and look at how each relates to the other, and why God did this for us.
Take time to praise God, to count his blessings on you and to affirm your commitment to do what he has already said to do. God has done much for us, and he plans to do even more!
(1 Chronicles 17:19)
“it was your will and purpose to do this for me and to show me my future greatness!”
Do you more often ask, or thank, God for things? What does that say about your rapport with Him?
One of the most important lessons Christ modeled for us was that He was a servant. Jesus said of himself, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). There is a special blessing for those who not only agree that humble service is Christ’s way but do it. Christ demonstrated the freedom with which he served in John 13:
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he went up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin, and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him”
How will You put Jesus’ teaching into practice at home, work, or church this week?
Jesus, knowing who he was – the Lord, creator and controller of all creation is and will be served. Similarly, knowing who we are in God – “Perfectly free, Lord of all, subject to none” – we are freed to serve.
However, sometimes our service can be the result of guilt, fear, and a half-hearted sense of obligation. This is servitude, not servanthood. It is more harmful than helpful, both to ourselves and our God. Servitude provides freedom.
Our “sacrifices” for God can easily become manifestations of our sin, not our love for him. We use them as a bargaining weapon: “If I do this for you, God, will you do this for me?” We try to use these sacrifices to control his behavior and bring him down to our level. But this will never lead us to deeper intimacy with God. If we are to know him, we must know him as he is: our perfect, all knowing God who sacrificed himself for us when we were helpless. He gave up, not just his glory possible as a man but suffered and died.
(Knowing the Face of God-Tim Stafford).
“If we succeed, they will become like us – people who make such sacrifices reflexively. To put off pleasure, we do intricate mental surgery. We cut ourselves up into separate personalities, one receiving carefully calculated benefits at the other’s expense. We eat dessert at the end of the meal saving the best for last. The ‘me’ at the end of the meal can enjoy it. Similarly we study to pass an exam tomorrow. We work out to get in shape, expecting to enjoy a trimmer waistline at some future date.”
If any conclusion can be drawn from the biographies of great leaders, it is that none enjoyed easy paths to greatness. It could, in fact, be argued that, had they avoided hardship, greatness would also have eluded them. This painful process of leadership development may be seen in the lives of biblical leaders as well. Moses, arguably the greatest figure in the Old Testament, had a life filled with adversity and failure. As a newborn, his life was threatened, so his mother gave him away to a foreigner. Although Moses was raised among Egyptian royalty, he was regularly reminded that his ancestry was, in fact, slavery. His bungled attempt to rescue a fellow Hebrew meant he had to flee for his life into the desert. Moses spent forty years herding sheep in the wilderness for his father-in-law because of a mistake he made in his youth. He spent another forty years wandering in the wilderness because of a mistake made by those he was leading. He would ultimately die outside the land he had dreamed of entering because of a mistake he made while wandering in the wilderness. Yet, despite his significant failures, even secular historians recognize Moses as one of the most influential leaders of all time.
Dear God, forgive those times when I seem to forget you. Help me to include you in all I do, think and feel. Be with me to guide me, now and forever. Amen.