October 16, 2021

True Glory in Service to God 19-09-2021

19th September 2021 Pentecost 17 (Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost) Title: True glory in Service to God
(Scripture Reading: James 3:13-18, 4:7-8; Mark 9:30-37)
By Heeyoung Lim
As Christians, we often fail to recognize the presence of God and the meaning of His gifts, but we desire intimacy with God. We saw in verses 9-10 that Jesus talked about his death and resurrection and that the disciples did not understand his teaching. In verse 31-33, the scene shifts to a house, a confined area where avoidance is harder to get away with. Jesus does not let His disciples stay on the comfortable outside when they did not want to hear about suffering Messiah. Their comfort zone was a place where they lacked understanding of Jesus, and a place where they rejected Jesus’ words. This shows not only that the words of Christ give us hope and strength and the fact that He leads to take ourselves to our limits, step outside our comfort zones and go the extra mile to achieve greatness in the name of Jesus Christ.
Jesus begins to talk about the signs of his betrayal, death, and resurrection, but He explains nothing. When Jesus predicted His death, the disciples argued over who would be the greatest in His kingdom. They were still thinking of Jesus as a conquering Messiah. When Jesus asked the disciples what they had been arguing about among themselves, they remained silent. They ignored and denied what they hear for the second time. Jesus did not focus on their arguing about who was the greatest. Jesus called the twelve and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (35)
Jesus tells us that if we want to be first, we must be last. The theme of servanthood echoes throughout Mark’s Gospel. Jesus said that the greatest in the kingdom will be the person who serves. He stated again that human values are not necessarily kingdom values. Jesus took a little child and placed the child among them. “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” Jesus Christ has become our servant.
Jesus shows the preciousness of every human life in the sight of God, no matter how small, how insignificant. When have you been like the child whom Jesus embraced? I believe we can find comfort, aid, and security in Jesus’ arms by welcoming Jesus. When have you been brought to the true glory from the frustration and disappointment?
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We are all in our weakness and vulnerability, but we will be warmly hugged by God. Brooks states, “To ‘welcome’ or ‘receive’ means ‘to be concerned about, to care for, to show kindness to.” To accept the outcasts and oppressed is a way of accepting God’s will. Who is the greatest? Greatness in the kingdom of God consists not of position or power but of ministry or service.
In the ancient world children were precious to their parents, but they had no social status or value. They were considered among the lowest element in the society of that time. We have seen how Jesus treated the sick and outcast; we have seen how he treated women. Now we see His treatment of children. (36) Our commitment to Christ demands that we serve the weak and the outcasts of society as well as the powerful. May we welcome children and care for them as special members of our congregation. I pray we feel the peace of the Lord in Jesus’ arms and serve each other.
Today’s text shows how little the disciples understand Jesus and his mission. We remind that the disciples had been talking about which one was the greatest instead of understanding Jesus or serving others. The pain and frustration that goes along with the loss of status and honour are perhaps akin to that experienced by the disciples of Jesus as they struggled both to hear and resist what He was saying. After all, they had seen miraculous things, they had been with the Lord, they had performed great deeds. I believe that there will be changes in our faith and lives that please God. May we be all on the way with Jesus.
When we spend time with God, we can surrender our life agenda to him and ask how He would want us to live and serve. Jesus shows the disciples the source of their true glory and what is to be the Christian’s glory. When we are faced with trials, may we remember there is a deeper glory than what we can see in this world. I hope we can get in the habit of seeing things from an eternal perspective though we are on the earth.
James encourages us to submit ourselves to God. James 3 reminds us of our need to demonstrate genuine wisdom. The Bible calls on all of us to show the presence of God’s wisdom in our lives by deeds of humility and goodness. Believers with true wisdom avoid envy and selfish ambition and produce peace and righteousness in Christ. The wrong response by false wisdom destroys unity, but the right response by true wisdom can contribute to peace.
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James warned that people who had envy and selfish ambition could boast about it or deny the truth. Those who choose to deny the truth can end up rejecting the truth of the gospel. Selfish ambition and envy prove that a person is following the route of false wisdom that does not come down from heaven but is earthly or demonic.
Unfortunately, we Christians are often guilty of using this twisted wisdom, but we can get in another habit of seeing eternal things from heaven even when we are faced with trials. God wants His people to control their tongues and to display true wisdom. He values humility, peace, and righteousness more than self-centred zeal and ambition. May we be consistent in the use of our tongues and not to deny God’s truth. May we ask God to help us develop true wisdom as the dominating characteristic of our lives.
Verse 17 and 18 tell us, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” Full of mercy is revealed by offering compassion to those in distress and full of good fruit is shown by kind actions and helpful deeds to others. True wisdom results in a harvest of righteousness, an experience of peace, and harmonious relationships between human beings. May we bear fruit, which is godly, righteous, or helpful to others. Our commitment to Christ demands that we serve the weak and the outcasts of society. I hope and pray that we find true glory in service to God and others.
In James 4:7-8, God wants us to come near to God, submit ourselves to God, and purify our hearts. I hope that we can be of people that search for His voice and listen out when He tells us “Come to me”, “Purify your hearts”, and “submit yourselves to me”. Greatness on Jesus’ terms means being humble, lowly, and vulnerable as a child. It seems to be risky, but His way of greatness is the path of life. The love of Christ will cast out all fear. May we serve God and others in the love of Christ and walk with Jesus in our faith journey.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)
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