Posts Tagged ‘church’

Luke 9:46-48 — Back when I was a junior in high school, I had US History with Mrs. Moseley. Early in the year, I mean within the first week, she quickly realized that I was a talker. I was always talking with my friends during class. Having conversations totally unrelated to the subject at hand. Sometimes having conversations that I did not want the teacher to hear. It was a daily thing for about the first week and half of school that year. It was a class where everyone in my circle of friends was in that class. I was, an still am, a class clown. So, imagine, me with an audience of friends. Something had to give. Mrs. Moseley made an example out of me. Not just for a couple of days but for the rest of the school year. She called me out. She made me move my student desk right up beside her desk at the front of the room. That is where I sat for the rest of the year in US History. She called me out for being distracting to the purpose of her class. As the school year went on, I became a favorite of Mrs. Moseley because of my natural wit and charm and because I really did enjoy learning. But early in the year, she let me know who was boss and she let me know what the most important thing was – US History. Not who was seeing who, not about who you were going to the ball game with Friday night. US History was the thing!

This illustration came to mind when reading through this passage. Jesus was the teacher. He was the headmaster of the class. He could hear this bubbling conversation going on behind Him. He knew their thoughts. He could have ignored it and just chuckled at the silliness of such a conversation. It certainly had nothing to do with the mission of Jesus. It was like a couple of guys in the back of the classroom arguing over who is more popular. No, I am more popular than you. No, you are not as popular as me! Jesus stopped the journey right there in its tracks. Jesus stopped the class and called out the disciples. This awkward moment reminds me of that moment when Mrs. Moseley had reached her limit with my distractions and called me and told me to physically bring my desk to the front of the room. Awwwwkkkkkkwaaard!

The disciples were jockeying for position with one another as to who was going to be Jesus’ right hand man. They were trying to establish the pecking order within the group. It kind of reminds you of some of the traditional old churches out there. Some churches are like this. Oh you have only been at our church for 6 months. You cannot hold that position. I have been here for 60 years and my family has been here for 6 generations. I have higher rank around here than you. I have been a Christ follower for 50 years but you have only been a Christ follower for 5 weeks. How dare you think of serving in this position? I have a higher rank around here than you. Have you ever been to a church like that? Pecking orders make Christianity about performance and about seniority. Sure, there is wisdom that comes with being a true Christ follower for 50 years vs. 5 weeks, but when you boil it down the true 50 year guy knows that there is really no difference between him and the Christ follower of five weeks – both are forgiven sinners. Pecking orders are man-made things to fulfill that need in us that wants to be better than others. We want there to be segregators among people. That way I can stand above you like I want to. These disciples are so like us. They wanted there to be a pecking order in Jesus coming kingdom. Jesus calls them out! That awkward moment!

Then He brought a little child to His side. Then, He said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.” Wow! Could you imagine being one of the disciples at the moment. Jesus just basically told you that you had it all wrong. He just said all that you guys were just talking about has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the mission of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Welcoming the little children was Jesus’ both literal and metaphorical lesson here. It is our job to welcome the little children, those that are new in the faith, to our family of believers. We are to celebrate new life. We are to celebrate new believers. We are to seek out those who do not know the gospel and tell them of Jesus so that they can accept or reject it. When they accept their need for Jesus and for the forgiveness that He offers, we welcome them into the family. We celebrate that. We live for that. That is the point of the mission. It is not who is the greatest in Jesus’ leadership structure. It is the winning of souls for the kingdom that matters. It is welcoming those that have the least to offer, new believers, as if they have been given the most (which they have). The gift of salvation makes us all just a like. We are all forgiven sinners whether you have been a saint for 5 minutes or 50 years.

Just as Mrs. Moseley made sure that I knew what the point of our getting together 5 days a week during 5th period in her classroom was all about…US History, Jesus is taking this moment to teach His disciples and to teach us that the point of what we are doing is about reaching and saving of lost souls with the gospel message. It is not about how I rank vs. how you rank. It is not about buildings and structures. It is not whether my church has a family life building (in non-Christian speak, that means gym) and yours does not. It is not about whether you are a trustee and I am not. It is not about me being in a position and you not. It is not about any of that stuff. Like the lady on the GEICO commercial says, “That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this stuff works!”, that’s what Jesus is saying to His disciples and to us. Let us remember why we are here. We are here for what is going on out there not what’s going on in here. Church is about what’s outside the building not what goes on in it.

Father, help me to not get caught up in popularity contests at church. Help me to see the point of being in the collective of believers is so that we are enriched and fueled to be sent out into the world to make Jesus’ name known to those who do not know Him. Help me to remember that church is not about who’s on what team and not about who leads those teams. It is all, all, all about Jesus. It’s all, all, all about taking his message outside our four walls to a world that needs Him. It is all about welcoming new saints, new little children, to the adoptive redemptive family of Jesus Christ. Help me to remember that is what it has always been about and that will always be what it is about. Amen.

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Roman 16:1-16 — In this passage, which is kind of a roll call of the superstars of the early church (kind of like when a racer thanks all his sponsors during a single post race interview), we hear two familiar names, Priscilla and Aquila. These two are mentioned prominently in Paul’s writings not just here, but, in total they are mentioned 6 times in the New Testament. They were always mentioned together and never individually. What can we learn from this?

I think the first thing that we learn from Priscilla and Aquila is that ministry is a husband-wife team effort. The fact that they are only mentioned together kind of tells you that they were their most effective when they were together. How often do you see it in today’s society that husbands and wives do their own things and rarely give much effort toward joint activities. How often do you see it that when this happens that the marriage falls apart? How often do you see it in couples that one is committed to the Lord and very active while the other is not? In these situations, you think to yourself, how effective would this couple be if both of them were on board? Priscilla and Aquila were both on board. They were sold out for Christ. They opened their home to Paul in Corinth. They held church in their home in Rome. They risked their lives for Paul. They helped finance his ministry. Together, the were pretty awesome. Ministry calls a couple not just the husband or the wife. In order to minister effectively, the husband and the wife must be called together. Think of the ministers you most admire. In every case, there is a minister’s wife standing with him that makes their ministry all the more powerful. What if Amy Hickman was not sold out for Christ, Jeff would not be as effective of a minister that he is. They minister together. Let us always remember to pray for our pastors’ wives as much as we pray for our pastors. They are called just as much as their pastor husbands are. It has been said that being a pastor’s wife is the toughest job there is. The husband and wife are a pastoral team just as Priscilla and Aquila were. May we be so effective in our ministries that they mention us only together. As Christ is united in the Holy Trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit, may we be united as couples serving the Lord. May we become one together serving the Lord to the point that it would be unthinkable to mention one without mentioning the other.

The second thing that I think we learn from mention of Priscilla and Aquila together always is the fact that they must have complemented each other so well. I would imagine that they were always mentioned together because they each had strengths and weaknesses. Where one was weak the other was strong. Where one was strong, it offset the weakness of the other in that area. Alone they were not as effective. Together their sum was greater than their parts. Together, they created traction where by themselves they could not. This is probably true in any marriage, but it is particularly so in a ministry couple. Elena is strong on details and works hard to make sure things happen when they are supposed to. In this area, I am weak. She compensates for my weakness. On the other hand, I have the ability to visualize grand ideas and think of things that haven’t been done before. This compensates for Elena’s discomfort with charting unknown waters. Together, she zigs for my zags and I zig for her zags. We make a good team in that way. This is why it is so important for it not just be the pastor. It must be the pastor and pastor’s wife. Together. God orchestrates bring pastoral couples together so that where he is weak she is strong and vice versa. Together, we are more effective than we are apart. Just as the church is more effective together than individual church members. We all have talents gifted us by God. We all have weaknesses. In God’s grand design of the church, it is certain that there is someone in the church who is strong where you are weak and vice versa. Together, we are more effective in presenting the gospel to the world. Let us be humble enough, as Priscilla and Aquila apparently were, to recognize our weaknesses and allow others who are strong in that area to flourish there. God is glorified when His people humbly work together in the areas that each was made by God for.

Father, in heaven, we give you glory for the way that you make this intricate universe work together in unison. You are the Creator of all things. You orchestrate the symphony of life. You also orchestrate bring us together as ministry couples. You and the Son and the Holy Spirit exist eternally in completeness together. Father, please help us as ministry couples to work together and in unison such that are names are always mentioned together. Father, you orchestrate bringing men and women together that complement one another as husbands and wives and as the people of your church. We thank you for teaching us about recognizing where we are weak and praising those who are strong in those areas. Help us to understand our weaknesses and strengths so that together as ministry couple and as churches we are stronger, more effective witnesses for the truth that is the gospel. Amen.