Wednesday, August 13, 2008

John 11

John 11 is the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It is a good story and one you should read. In it you see that Jesus is compassionate. You see that he grieves over the loss of a close friend--even knowing what was about to take place. I want to encourage you to read the story and look at the interaction between Jesus and the sisters of Lazarus. Listen to the promises that Jesus says are coming for the believers. However, the things that I want to talk about today come later in the chapter and deal with the reaction of the Jewish leaders.

Something important I've learned:

We often mistake our political and/or social desires for what is best for everybody. The Jewish leaders were more concerned with how Rome might react to the coming of God's Anointed One than they were about the thought that this might be the true Messiah. If Rome decided to take away many of the privileges that they had given the Jews, the leaders would lose their power. What I see here is that we haven't changed too much. It would appear that our religious leaders today are still more concerned about politics and social issues that about sharing the love of God and His wonderful plan of salvation. A politician with views that differ from our own gets way more attention and effort to put them out of office than to share God's love with them (or with the neighbor across the street for that matter).
What is our agenda anyway? Is it to take over the government and make it a government run by a bunch of religious radicals; or to work in the service of our God and King to bring more lost sheep (see yesterday's post) into the fold?

The verse I liked best:

Verse 48--"If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

A question to consider:

How often does our "right thinking" agenda get in the way of doing God's work?



Mike said...

After 21 your not going to start 'Acting' up are you?

Anonymous said...

Hi from Mike's (Billions of Versions of Normal) wife! I have similar things on my mind as you mentioned in this blog. Rick Warren is on the cover of this week's TIME magazine. I'm not sure the article did him all that much good. But one thing it did reveal was that he had to face his own lack of wanting to deal with the truly most impoverished and ill people of the world. Now he's going great guns on world missions, but I still worry about how well he monitors his own humility and how connected he can possibly be to the people who are in awe of him.I know the Lord gave us the Great Commission, and I am all for international as well as domestic mission programs, but I am concerned about the can we've opened with the advent of "faith-based" agencies, because of the possibility of religious radicals using the option of becoming such "faith-based" agencies to gain political power. I liked Warren's book and know it has done my own church good. But we are a congregation of 220. I can only wonder how one manages to manage a 26,000-member congregation at all, or to know who the members of one's flock are, which would be at least part of Rick Warren's task as senior pastor and founder of his church. There has to be a lot of folks just hiding in his pews, showing up on Sundays and then fading into oblivion for a week, or who are more connected to a vast web of small support groups than they are to any semblance of actual community. No doubt with 26,000 members, the possibilities for good are as endless as are the possibilities for the Devil creeping in, and God knows the Devil is there whether the congregation is 20 or 26,000. I'm just hard-pressed to be anything but skeptical of how one feels like anything but an anonymous face in the crowd with that many people claiming to belong to one church. I tend to think that once a church has 50 families, those 50 need to go out and plant another church, and so on and so on. A lot of smaller churches was what fueled the growth of Christianity in this country after WWII. We could use that kind of planned growth again. I am so sad that so many little churches in all kinds of places are being forced to close because of the draw of megachurches like Rick Warren's, which takes young people in particular away from their former family churches. Rural and urban Americans especially are losing their churches when they need them most in this crazy economy! And how about the phenomenon of part-time musicians being paid more than fulltime pastors, just to keep people coming to church because they dig the Praise Band? And what really irritates me is when evangelists like Marsha Grace Reese put the ministry of chaplaincy down. I have had to have twice or more as much education to be a health care chaplain than most church pastors I know! We have our work cut out for ourselves as Christians, just to keep from killing each other as competitors for souls. Is this what Jesus had in mind when he first walked among us? I don't think so!

John said...

Mike, I hadn't really thought about Acts--but it is an exciting book!

Mike's wife (Mike you need to keep this girl!),
Thanks for the thoughts. The main thing with Warren's Purpose Driven model that many churches have ignored is (and he repeats this over and over in his book) the model worked for Saddleback and may not work in your community. It probably won't work without some adjustments.

In today's church society, if you attend a church of 3,000+, you probably live in the state of Texas. According to Barna, Texas has more mega-churches per population than any other state. The same study shows that if you are in a church of 100 or less, you probably live in Missouri!

Personally, I think that in a church of 50, you probably know everybody. You probably have one or two really close friends and maybe the rest you know their names, their jobs and their kids; but aren't really that close.

In a church of 100; you probably recognize everybody as a member of your church, but aren't really sure of all of their names. You probably have one or two really close friends and maybe about 50 of them you know their names, their jobs and their kids; but aren't really that close.

In a church of 1,000; you'll know many faces and maybe 100 or so of them you may or may not know their names. You probably have one or two really close friends and maybe about 50 of them you know their names, their jobs and their kids; but aren't really that close.

It's just the way we build our personal communities and relationships.

As for church economics...don't want to go there. It would be a long ugly rant, to be sure.

We have a hospital chaplain as a member of our church. It takes a person of great compassion to serve as a hospital chaplain. When we lived in Iowa, the local pastors rotated through the hospitals as chaplain. I think that a called chaplain can be of more comfort and service than ministers rotating through. May God bless you in your work.

I always try to remember that Jesus said that they will know that we are His disciples by the way we love each other. Sometimes you just have to ask, "Where is the love?"