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Friday, March 2, 2012

Limping toward Maturity

I wish that I were further along than I am in spiritual maturity. After having been a Christian for 43 years, and having been in the ministry for 30 years this fall. I wish I were further along. I discover that even though the scriptures says that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather of love and sound mind, I sometimes experience fear that I can’t shake. God’s word instructs us to be generous, but I find myself tempted to keep my stuff to myself. I know that Jesus demonstrated compassion but sometimes I am very callous. God’s word is clear that I am to rejoice always and yet sometimes I choose to complain and sulk.

I’m certain that I’m not the only one that this bothers and that many of you are disturbed by similar inconsistencies in your life. Reportedly the Indian leader Ghandi made this statement, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” This Sunday at Bethany Place we will explore a text that carries the potential to shatter our understanding of how a person grows to become more like Jesus and to show us the path to real spiritual progress for the sake of the glory of God. You can see the text and discussion questions below. I’m withholding the outline, not because it isn’t ready, it is, but because it’s a bit tough to be honest and I want to have the opportunity to explain it. So I hope to have the privilege to worship God with you this Sunday or hopefully I will be able to post a link to the service here within a couple of days. 

Mark 12:28–34 (ESV)
28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Questions for further reflection for individuals, families, or groups:
  • Do you feel that your theology (what you believe about God) is important to your relationship with God? Why or why not?
  • If someone asked you, what does it mean to love God, what would you say?
  • Would you say that it is easy to love people or difficult? Why?
  • How does 1 John 4:20-21 affect your understanding of Mark 12:28-34? 1John 4:20–21 (ESV) 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

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