1: Matthew 20:20-28
So much of our popular culture is centred on the self. It’s all about self awareness and self fulfilment. We live in a culture that allows us to get what we want cheaply and quickly and we have the mantra played over and over again that we deserve it. Entitlement is something that my generation and those younger have been known for. The image of Christ is something totally different. We are reflecting the image of the one, who though he was God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. We reflect the one who, though he is the prince of the Kingdom of heaven, came to serve not to be served. If we reflect him, then our attitude should be the same. In 1 Corinthians 11 we read that God has given each of us a gift, and this gift was not given so that we could earn things for ourselves, but the Bible say that this gift was given so we could build up others. When we are given new life in Christ, part of that new life is that we deny ourselves and we take on the attitude of Christ, which was not about how we are best served, but about how we serve others. We continually remind ourselves of this, because even the Church in many spheres has adopted the “what’s in it for me” attitude of the world, this is a radical change of mind from that of the world.
2: .Romans 5:1-11
“Pick yourselves up by your own boot straps and if you want to get it done right you better do it yourself”. This is often our attitude. One of the most difficult transitions to faith in Jesus is embracing the idea that God has given us something we did not deserve. Even Paul says that the world finds this a bit strange when he says that “very rarely will anyone die even for a righteous person”. But Jesus died for the unrighteous…us. WE now have to be willing to admit that this awesome thing we have, this eternal life, was not earned by us but given to us freely. We have to be willing to admit that we didn’t deserve it. This changes our whole attitude, because we go from being entitled to salvation to being given salvation freely. We go from arrogance to praise and thanksgiving. Understanding this give us a spirit of thanksgiving, and appreciation for what God has done for us. It wells up in us a deep desire to praise him and worship him, to speak to him through prayer, and know him more though his Word.
3: Colossians 3:1-10
When we are in Christ, Jesus becomes more than just something we add to our life, he becomes our life, or our all in all. It’s not like we think about him every once and a while, maybe on Sunday mornings or home group time. No, we set out eyes on the things above were he is seated. Our task is to remember him always. There is nothing on our, nothing in our lives that he is not part of. Whether that is our finances, our marriages, our work, he is always there and he is always influencing us and moving in us. He is always working there for the good of those who love him.
4: John 13:30-38
Somewhere along the line we may have heard the phrase “I have to love them but I don’t have to like them”. This is unhelpful and heretical, as it minimizes Christ’s command to us. Jesus says “love one another as I have loved you”. Jesus was about to die on the cross for his enemies. He hung on the cross and prayed forgiveness for those who mocked him. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He spent time with the adulterous woman. He died for them, then he says “love as I have loved you”. We cannot minimize this, it’s huge, and it’s a huge ask. WE can’t really understand this until we understand what he has done for us. If we understand that, and we understand the eternal life we have, not matter what others might do to us, we can begin to understand this love. Though, we will never perfectly live this out, it becomes our desire, that we seek to have this same kind of love.
5: Romans 12:9-21
Another marker of modern society is individualism. “Mind your own business” is a call too often heard. Jesus calls us to radical connection. We are called in Scripture to “mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice”. James talks about who we should be so close that we should be able to confess our sins to one another. That’s a closeness that the world doesn’t understand, but if you understand it in terms of what God has called us to, then it makes sense. We are called to be more than just a group of people, we are put into a body, held together by Christ who is every supporting ligament, according to scripture. That is closeness. It’s a call away from radical individualism that we would work together for the interests of others and for the sake of their upbuilding. That we would sing together, worship together, and generally desire to be together as the body. Paul ends many of his letters with a greeting where he tells those he is wring to about how much he appreciates them, he thanks God for them and tells them about others who also do the same. We are being transformed into the image of Christ, who is in community, now we are in community as well.
6: Romans 12:1-5
Receive, achieve, win, conquer…all these words are common in self fulfilment/self help culture. But what is missing from all the language of the self is the language of surrender. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and this passage calls us to offer ourselves as a sacrifice. For some this might sound frightening, because it is to give up some of the things we hold so dear, like our image and our control. But the reality is, is that there is peace is simply surrendering to God. To be able to say “God, I’m yours”. To be able to rely on the promises of God, the promise of eternal life that he offered us freely by his work or to be able to rely on his promise that he works out all things for the good of those who love him. While we may not understand his path, nor the troubles we have along the way, to give ourselves over to simply follow him, to stop trying to blaze our own path and make our own way, is a thing of peace. When we know that he is good, then we know where he takes us is also good, and we can trust in him fully.
7: Phillipians 4:1-13
The world is full of sorrow and darkness. We could, spend our time dwelling on those things thinking about the things that lead to death, or maybe death itself. But our call, being that we have now been given life, is to focus our attention on the things of life. Our worry is no longer the darkness as he has overcome the darkness for us. Our worry is no longer death as he has conquered death for us. He has opened up our view that we can see and think beyond those things. So now we are called to focus our attention on what is pure, lovely, praise worthy, right and noble, to think about the good news that he has given us, and the author of Philippians promises us peace in this.
Call to action
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