Seeking positions – Matthew 20:20-28

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

There may be a proper motive and a right way to seek desired positions within the church, but it isn’t easy.  Whatever it is, James and John still had to learn how to do it and so did their mother.

To refuse a position of responsibility, should it be offered to us, is to risk sounding like Moses.  He argued with God at the burning bush over his calling to lead Israel out of Egypt.  At the same time, to seek the position is risk looking like Zebedee’s family in the passage above.

God calls people to take positions of responsibility.  We don’t call ourselves.  The most balanced attitude toward this service/greatness tension might have been both expressed and lived out by Archbishop William Temple, who said, “I have never sought and never refused a position of greater responsibility,”*

The key might be in the love of the service itself, rather than the position.  Paul put it like this in 1 Timothy 3:1, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”  The task, not the office, is the motivator.  Jesus uses terms like “servant,” “slave,” “to serve,” and “to give his life,” to describe his own mission.  Ours may look similar to his.

If we focus on service, we won’t get derailed by seeking positions.  It may be that a higher position of some sort will come our way.  If it doesn’t, we still get to serve right where we already are.

*Quoted in Green, M. (2001). The message of Matthew: the kingdom of heaven (p. 191). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Worthy of worship – Matt 2:1-2, 11

When the “wise men” or magi came from the east, they came to worship the king of the Jews.  To all but Christians this may seem odd since the Jews never worshiped their kings.  They were not a people whose religion allowed for the worship of humans, angels, anyone or anything else but the one true God.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (ESV throughout)

This non-worship of others besides God continued into the Christian era.  Take this example of Peter when he meets the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10:24-26.

24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”

Paul and Barnabas react similarly to Peter in a similar situation.

11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”

In Revelation John gets reprimanded not once, but twice by an angel for giving him excessive honor.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:9-10)

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Rev 22:8-9)

Back to the magi.  In Matt 2:11, they follow through on their mission.

And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Only God is worthy of our worship.  Jesus is worthy of our worship.  Jesus is God.

Loving in Truth – 2 John

Apostle JohnLoving in Truth     2 John

Truth without love is brutal; it can be simply callous or cruel.  Love without truth is deceptive; it nurtures a sentimental fantasy world. 

2 John.pdf 

2 John.mp3

 

 

Make Disciples. Week 12: Life in the Spirit

make-disciplesThis evening, we will get together for Week 12 of 12, the final week in our “Make Disciples.” series. Below you will find links to an overview of the full 12 weeks and for the twelfth area on the map, Experiencing God’s Power: Life in the Spirit.  It has been a great 12 weeks which have given us some valuable insights into our spiritual growth.

Overview

Make Disciples. Week 12

During the 12 weeks, we have addressed areas on a comprehensive discipleship map.  After discussing each area, we have tried to establish Milestones that would provide evidence of personal spiritual growth – markers that we work toward. 

Central Streaming: Christ to the Churches

20J.P.BRETEGNIERLECHANDELIERVITRAILDHERICOURTBlessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3 ESV)

Rev 1-3.pdf

Rev 1-3.mp3

Central Reflections: Marks of Conversion (or not)

Top-10Barry Atwell walks us through the Letter of 1 John, pointing out the Top Ten Marks of Conversion.  These can give us assurance that we are truly born again.  The lack of these marks, or the presence of their opposite, would indicate that our conversion has never happened.

          1 John.mp3 (Barry Atwell)

          1 John.pdf

Palmer St. Podcast: I Am Coming Quickly

This chapter will give us one more peek into the wonders of our eternal home.  That is followed by several promises that Jesus is coming quickly!

Rev 22.mp3

Rev 22.pdf

Rev 22.pptx