God does not usually choose the rich and the powerful to be His instruments in the world. He does not usually choose the strong and the influential. It’s not that He couldn’t or that He sometimes doesn’t. Sometimes I wonder ‘why not?’ but then I am called back to 1 Corinthians 1. Those on top tend to think that they got there themselves, through their own hard work, brains, … They would not necessarily boast in God. But there is another side too. For those hearing someone like this, we may also see them as part of the reason God’s work is being done, as if they were at least partly responsible. This is natural for those who are looked up to.
Yet when God chooses the weak, the ones who do not have, He chooses them so that when we see them do great things for God, we see it as all God’s work and might. We are awed that they are doing the work they are doing and we see God’s hands all over it. There is a second purpose in 1 Corinthians as well. When the low and without are able to do much for God, it shames the wise. It shames the strong. It nullifies the things that are. It makes them see God’s presence and action in the world. It draws them to it.
When an observer asks someone about what they are doing for God, a humble servant boasts in how God is present and is the driving force behind their actions. They acknowledge the fact that they could not do this on their own. The wisdom of God comes to them through Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. They find guidance, direction, and strength from the true source. He is their, and our, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. His is their all in all, so that when they boast, they boast in the Lord. Like them, may our inner light shine the focus back on the source of that light so that others may see and come to know Jesus.
PS – As I was walking this morning, I wondered how one comes to discern where God is leading or calling us to go. It is hard to not make our path seem like His path. We must seek His guidance with humility and openness and an honest eye, lest our feet may not be unpon the path that God has set before us.
“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-23) In today’s world isn’t it much the same? Don’t some people look for answers that are both impressive and tangible and don’t some seek to see some amazing feat that awes them? Only then do they consider something.
God chose those who were lowly to carry out his work. God chose the weak and the non-powerful to share the message. Why? So that the world could see that this amazing power and love came not from human hands but from the one true God. It is like when that kid in class that never says anything spouts out the most amazing insight – all just turn and look at them in awe. It is like when that Nazarene carpenter brought that young man back from the dead or when he gave a man back his sight or when he confounded the intelligence of the Pharisee who was trying to trip him up.
Today the power of the cross comes not from displays of power but through displays of self-emptying service. It comes not from flexing muscles in the academic, athletic, or corporate world but from stepping into someone’s world who needs a helping hand and serving them like Christ would have. It comes not from punishing another for their mistake, but in reaching out a hand of forgiveness and seeing with eyes of understanding and compassion. We are called to empty ourselves of self – ever wonder why? So that there is more room for Jesus!!!
Do you have a ’cause’ that is special to you? Do you have something that you are involved in and passionate about? Is it always easy to serve or give?
If we truly love something we are often willing to risk much for it. We are willing to invest in and support it in spite of it sometimes being difficult or have a ‘cost’. Yet making a difference in our world is what we are called to do. Through our faith we are called to be involved in the world as we share the love of Christ with those in need and with those who are lost.
Psalm 15 begins by asking the questions: “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” Well… those who love God, right? That is certainly part of it. But there is more. He who is blameless and does what is righteous. He who speaks truth and does not slander. He who does his neighbor no wrong. He who keeps his oath even when it hurts. This is just a partial list from Psalm 15. And the end line: “He who does these things will never be shaken.”
For those things that you maybe aren’t so passionate about, is it always easy to give? For those causes that you don’t jump in line to support, is it always a joy to serve? Are we supposed to be involved in every cause and to support every need? No. And that is okay. We cannot be involved in everything and we cannot support every need or cause.
But there is something out there that we can each get behind and support. Maybe it is with our time. Maybe it is with our finances or other gifts. Maybe it is through our prayers. The world is so full of need and we are called to be in the world. God leads us where we need to be – when we are listening and are attentive to His call. It is so easy to let the world drown out that still, small voice. But when we look at the world through Jesus’ eyes and when we walk where God leads, then we can dwell with God. And He will be there beside us and we will not be shaken.
Micah was a prophet in the old testament. In chapter six God, through Micah, begins by calling the people into account and they respond with a ‘what more can I do?’ attitude. God could just as easily be speaking to us today. Although we do not make animal sacrifices to atone for our sins, we do make what we call ‘sacrifices’ to God. We give Him a whole hour on Sunday morning, maybe two if we go to Sunday school! We give Him a few hours once a month to serve a meal at the mission or to help with a project at church or in the community. And then if we have a twinge of guilt over not doing more for our faith, we shrug and whine out, ‘what more can I do?’ And just like the Israelites, God looks down, gives us a loving smile, and lets us know we have our attitude all wrong.
In verse 7 of Micah 6 the people ask mockingly if God wants the first born of their bodies for the sins of their souls. What a powerful question! Maybe the people were thinking back to Genesis 22 where Abraham goes as far as having his son Isaac bound and upon the altar’s wood – ready to be sacrificed. As Abraham raised the knife, the angel of the Lord intervened. But don’t you think God wishes they (and we) had that much faith in Him?
The attitude that God desires is not for us to offer up our own son or daughter for the sins of our souls. He already did that with His son Jesus. The price for us has already been paid through Jesus’ blood on the cross. But in verse 8 God spells out what He does expects of us: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
And this is a 24/7 request – not an hour on Sunday, a few hours here and there once a month. It is about being in relationship with Christ ALL the time. It is about being in the world and not succumbing to what the world says is important. It is treating our fellow man with justice. It is about extending mercy to those in need. It is about walking humbly and acknowledging that it is God who is in control of our lives. In the end, our question should not be ‘what more can I do?’ but ‘what else CAN I do?’
The lectionary readings for this week are centered around the idea of living a life that reflects what is important to God and not centered on what the world says is important or powerful or to be sought after. Living in God’s economy may be the way to look at it – investing ourselves into the people we encounter seeking ways to make their lives better when we can.
In Micah 5 the people of Israel are accused of the various economic injustices that exist. They have transitioned from oppressed to oppressor. It is a hard line to cross and not be vengeful or abusive of the newfound power. Micah 6: 2b reads: “For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.” In the days of Micah, Israel was the Jewish people. In our times, we are Israel.
In a corporate sense, God can still make a pretty compelling case against His people. If the question were to be: “Do we do ALL we can to help the poor and oppressed living in various places around the world?” then my answer would be a loud ‘No’. As I pondered this I thought about the clothes I wear that were made by barely-paid people working in unsafe conditions. I thought about all the food I eat that came from the hands of over-worked and under-paid people. Part of me knows that slowly things are improving for people, but part of me wonders what else I could do.
If the question got more personal and became: “Do I do ALL I can to help the poor and oppressed in the community in which I live?” then I would have a hard time defending my case or my position. True, my calling is not to just work with this segment of our society, but at times I do have an opportunity to be justice and mercy for someone. And do I always extend these when I can? Mostly, but not always. So in the week ahead, it will be on my heart and mind to seek ways to better answer these questions. It is my hope and prayer that you will join me as well!
As followers of Christ we are transformed. We enter into a relationship with Christ and thereafter we are ever-changed and ever-changing. As we seek to follow the light of the world, we become light in our worlds. Isaiah 9:2 says “those walking in darkness have seen a great light.”
As we grow in our relationship with Christ we are surely changed on the inside. This process is one that should be constant and on-going. As Christians we are never ‘there’ because Jesus is always working to make us more loving, more compassionate, more giving… As we allow Christ to permeate our lives we see the world and those around us in new ways. We seek to share what Jesus gives us through acts of mercy, kindness, love, …
The people we encounter should see the light within us. This changes our relationship with them. As people watch us in action, they should either be lifted up and encouraged (if they are a fellow Christian) or they should be drawn to the light and want to know where this love of neighbor comes from. Our light begins to dispel the darkness in which they walk. Our light draws them to the light of the world – Jesus.
You never know what people will notice. Is it that you go out of your way to extend kindness and love to that person at work that no one else really talks to or wants to be around? Is it that you are willing to pitch in and give a hand even if it is not on your job description? As Christ grows in us, our light in the world grows. Allow your light to be that hook that dangles just in front of the fish, enticing it to come a little closer, enticing it to be caught by the love of God almighty!
God calls us out into the world to be His light for the lost. At times we catch a glimpse of what God’s world would look like. In these moments we are truly blessed!
Last night we gathered with about 45 youth and a dozen adults. We shared our time with each other and also learned more about God’s love for us. This morning we will go out into the community to be His hands and feet. Caring for others is our method today.
Serving in the name of Christ is just one way to share our faith. It is our way today. What will be your way to share Christ today?
Paul opens the first letter to the Corinthians with a reminder that they are to be united in the faith, in mind, and in actions. What a great world that would be!!
At times everyone has disagreements. If you think back over your last few days I am willing to wager that you were in a disagreement with someone over something. It may have been something small, but… By our human nature we have opinions and we like to be right. Which also naturally makes somebody else ‘wrong.’ But in cases of opinion often both sides are ‘right’ but fail to acknowledge this fact.
I am also willing to wager that all of us have experienced a couple arguing out in a public space like a restaurant or have seen a parent come unglued over what seems like a minor offense that the child has committed in the store. We are all human, we all err. But we all probably agree that there is a time and a place to argue.
Like in Paul’s day, the world that was so torn apart by so many things so desperately needed a church that was unified. Like the church of Corinth, as soon as we start focusing on some issue or matter that divides us, then less of our energy goes toward being Christ’s love in the world. The color of the paint on the walls in the Parlor does not really matter (unless it is a hideous color! – just kidding) and how and when a church chooses to baptize does not really matter. The only things we should argue about inside our churches should be about how we are going to make a bigger difference in our world as we seek to grow His kingdom. Between churches the only thing we should argue about is who is going to the rescue mission and who is going to serve at Habitat or the thrift store or…
All of the churches and all of God’s people are under the same two commissions. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. What a great world that would be!!
Isaiah 9:2 – “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” And in verse four these words speak out to us: “you have shattered the yoke that burdens them.”
Can you see yourself in these verses? Can you see someone you work with, go to school with, someone you encounter each day? Or it could be a person you meet for the first time ever! At times we all find ourselves on both sides of this reality. The passage and the light it refers to has often been seen as Jesus. But as we extend this passage and its ideas out into the time beyond the Old Testament and beyond Jesus, we are called to take up and be that light.
I want to ask you a question. It is the same type of question I asked the young people at Youth last night.
If you think back over your week, when and how were you the light of Christ to someone in your world?
Their question was actually about taking a risk for their faith. But when we step out and seek to make that difference in our world – one person at a time, one moment at a time (thanks again Keihwan Ryoo!) – we are often taking a risk. But when we do we rest assured that God’s grace always go before and that the Holy Spirit is always with us.
Today, yes – today, we will probably all have an opportunity to be God’s light to someone walking in the darkness. They may be dealing with an illness or there may be some other struggle going on in their life. They may be carrying the heavy weight of past baggage upon their backs. They may just have never seen the true Light. Today we can be that difference. It may be through your prayers, presence, gifts, service, or witness. It might even be a combination of these!!
As we go forth today, may we seek to have the eyes to see and the heart to love those in need. We may not be able to ‘fix’ everything for that person, but we can let them know we care and that God loves them and we can begin to point them towards that light. We can be the beginnings of hope in their life. Through the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit we can do much. Good luck fishing today!!
As we are called into the world to bring Christ to the world, sometimes we are faced with difficult situations. In these cases it may require courage to step out in faith. The Bible is full of encouraging words that remind us that when we follow the call God places upon our heart, He will be there as well. In Psalm 27 we are reminded that “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (verse 1)
This Psalm goes on to remind us that God will keep us safe, that He will set us upon the high rock. In turn we sing our praises to Him and seek His face. Psalm 27 ends with these words: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
What in your life right now requires courage and bravery? Is it talking with that person you would rather not? Is it standing up for something that is not right – something that may be unpopular? Is it praying for that person who is a thorn in your side? Is it engaging the person that everyone else shuns? Often God calls us to step out in courage, to be the light and love where others are afraid to go.
But take courage for He has overcome the world! Jesus did not find defeat but victory. If we keep our eyes and hearts focused on doing God’s will and working in this world to bring peace, justice, and love, then He will be with us. We serve a mighty God!! He will go with you wherever He leads you today! May we go forth with a heart and mind bent on God, seeking opportunities to step out into the places where His courage is required, knowing that His hand will guide!