Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The Mark of Greatness Is to Invest In People. Mark 9 Receive them. Perceive them
Mark 9: 30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. 42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Have you ever flown? Do you like it? After awhile you start to notice that plane flyers are ranked. Have you noticed those people who regard themselves as better than others.. they call that first class.. I fly herd class…I mean third class… up in first they seem so much more superior don’t they?
The disciples may have felt that way. Some of them had had a special experience that the other 9 did not have; they had been to the mountain!! They had been there and seen Elijah and Moses speaking with the Lord Jesus! They had seen the cloud! They had hears the voice “this is my beloved Son hear him!” Mark 9:7 This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
And now as they go down the mountain, they are discussing important stuff; the pecking order!
Who is on first!!
Funny, whenever the Lord talks about something important, His death and resurrection, these guys lose the plot and wander off into something very selfish!
I was required to attend a three hour lecture on altruism at Teacher’s college.
Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.
Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of loyalty and duty. Altruism is a motivation to provide a value to a party who must be anyone but the self, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual (for example, a god, a king), or collective (for example, a government). Some individuals may feel both altruism and duty, while others may not. Pure altruism is giving up a value (a reward or benefit) with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct, or indirect (for instance from recognition of the giving).
During the 3 hour lecture, I learnt something: I have a big mouth!
We were asked to ask questions of this altruistic person about altruism.
I couldn’t stand the silence. No one asked anything.
I stood and asked “Why are you altruistic?”
“Because it makes me feel good!”
“So you are altruistic for selfish reasons? You do get a pay out in the end?”
How opposite to what is important to the Lord!
When asked what was the greatest commandment the Lord replied (Mark 12: 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
What is our essential motive for the ministry of reaching and teaching people in Christ’s name? I like to use the term Great Commandment love. In one of the most defining moments of his ministry, Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest. He answered, “ ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40, NASB). This Great Commandment to love God and love people defines the true identity of those who are called his church. Great Commandment love is at the heart of who we are and what we do.
Compare Christ’s Great Commandment with the equally important Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB). The Great Commission to declare God’s truth on the vital issues of sin, Scripture, and salvation, and to call people to bow in obedience to God, relates more to the mission of the church. The Great Commandment to love God and others defines our identity orheart as a church. The Great Commission capsulizes what we do while the Great Commandment embodies who we are. What I refer to as the Great Commandment Principle is the accomplishing of the Great Commission within the context of the Great Commandment.
Both are vital to our ministry to the churched and unchurched. We cannot effectively do what we have been called to do unless we embrace and live out our identity as people who love God and others. In fact, when we adhere to the Great Commandment Principle of loving God and one another, we can “do” church effectively because we are “being” his church.
As the Great Commandment Principle comes to more clearly define who we are, it will be God’s love that prompts our activity, empowers our work, and becomes the explanation for any “success” we might have. This principle will bring the evidence of his love into every relationship we enjoy and every message we share. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Ephesians 5:1-2, NASB).
Embracing the Great Commandment Principle does not mean we are soft on the vital issues of sin, Scripture, and salvation. For example, Jesus compassionately said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “I don’t condemn you,” but he also said, “Go and sin no more.” Great Commandment love connects us to the very heart of God, where we are empowered to minister truth to people whose lives are scarred by sin, disobedient to Scripture, and spiritually lost. Indeed, only when the truth is spoken in love will people be moved to conform to the truth.
A 1994 Josh McDowell Ministry study of 3,795 church-attending youth reveals:
Fifty-three percent of our church-attending youth feel alone in trouble or crisis.
Fifty-two percent say they don’t want a marriage like their parents’.
Fifty percent say they are stressed out.
Fifty-five percent say they are confused.
Forty-four percent do not believe their church is relevant to their lives.5
If our church-attending youth find themselves lonely, stressed out, and confused, can it also be true that a comparable segment of adults are also lonely, stressed out, and confused? Research confirms it. A staggering 74 percent of today’s Christian adults claim that the church is not sensitive to their needs.6
The Mark Of Greatness Is To Receive People
Jesus was willing to be inconvenienced by people.
He received people
35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
He received a child with welcoming arms
36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
He received a near disciple with welcoming arms
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
Just as I am without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me,
and that Thou biddst me come to Thee O lamb of God I come,
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Sometimes when I go to a church and just watch the interactions between people, I wonder how I as a young, non Christian would have perceived prideful behavior. I wonder if the young man some are rejecting were me, would I have stayed in a church? Would the church have lost a preacher? I am very careful now to be kind towards all that come.
As we begin to restore Great Commandment love to our personal lives and ministries, we will be increasingly attractive to the hurting, needy people around us. Two critical questions must be answered in order to effect this vital restoration. First, what does Great Commandment love look like in our lives and ministry? Second, how does restoring Great Commandment love to our lives and ministry make our message relevant? In the pages ahead, I will attempt to paint a word picture of Great Commandment love in action. I will show how this kind of love results in relevant ministry without compromising God’s truth about sin, the absolute authority of Scripture, and man’s fundamental need for God. And I will share with you the dramatic difference Great Commandment love has made in my own life, marriage, and ministry.
In order for our lives to demonstrate Great Commandment love and impact our world in a relevant way, three things must happen.
1. We must identify and meet the real needs of people.
Receive on another even when it is inconvenient
He was interrupted at prayer, at meals, on vacation, in times of privacy, when it was suited to His schedule.
We can only have an outgoing love when we know we are loved.
1 John 4 :19 We loved because He first loved us.
We can only receive people for Jesus’ sake when we know we ourselves have been received by Jesus.
The Mark Of Greatness Is To Take The Initiative With People
Jesus took the Initiative With People
The parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that we must:
See the need
Sympathise with people’s pain
Seize the moment when it comes along to help
Spend whatever it takes, particularly when there is no hope of recompense
Do you love others and seek to serve them, and not yourself?
Again the example of Jesus is key, who loved more than we ever could, and “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
In the parable there was a man going from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And Jerusalem sits high on Mount Zion, while Jericho is situated near the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on Earth – 1388 feet below sea level.
“So this is a picture that when humanity moves away from God, it moves from the heights to the depths. I was moving farther down into that valley the first 16 years of my life.
“And as this man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, he fell among thieves. They beat him, stoned him, kicked him, stripped the clothes from him, took all his money, and left him there in a pool of blood—dying. This man is a picture of humanity apart from God, battered and robbed by the devil.
“Sadly, we live in a world of people who are going from Jerusalem to Jericho. They’re on their own path, away from God, heading down into the valley of the shadow of death; and many have been beaten and robbed by Satan. Ours is a hurting world! Hearts are crushed, bruised, bleeding, and broken.
“The amazing thing in this parable is that Jesus reveals that religion is not the answer. Did you hear that? Religion is not the answer. A priest and a Levite passed right by this hurting man.
“The priest represented religion with its rituals and rules. The Levite represented the law, which can describe us and condemn us; but can’t save us.
“When your neighbor is hurting, he doesn’t need religion with its rituals and rules. He doesn’t need a course on theology. He need compassion. He needs Jesus!
“The Good Samaritan who ministered to this man, is really a picture of Jesus. The Good Samaritan bound up this broken man. He soothed him with oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit; and He cleansed him with wine, a symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ.
“And then Jesus, the Good Samaritan, sat this man on his own donkey and brought him to an inn. Out of love, Jesus comes to us in the midst of our sin and rebellion, and He is moved with compassion. We live in a hurting world that needs help. We can’t wait until they come to us. We must go to them with hearts of mercy and love.”
The Mark Of Greatness Is Be Interested In People
Jesus Was Interested In People
Billy Graham wrote
The human soul is a lonely thing. It must have the assurance of companionship. Left entirely to itself, it cannot enjoy anything. God said in the beginning, “It is not good that man should dwell alone” (Genesis 2:18). The creation of Eve was the beginning of human companionship. God’s people are a body, not intended to function separately, not intended to be unconcerned for one another. The only true body in the world is the Church. The world may talk grandly of brotherhood, but in reality its philosophy is “each man for himself.” God’s children are guaranteed the richest and truest friendship, both here and hereafter. Only in a true friendship and a true love do we find a genuine basis for peace. Only God can break down the national and racial barriers that divide men today. Only God can supply that love that we must have for our fellowman. We will never build brotherhood of man upon earth until we are believers in Christ Jesus. The only true cohesive power in the world is Christ. He alone can bind human hearts together in genuine love
"Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them. " — John Calvin
The Mark Of Greatness Is To Perceive People
Jesus Was Careful With People.
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
A Great Commandment follower of Christ enjoys the presence of God in his or her life and ministry. Why? Because in order to love God with heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbor as ourselves, we must be in touch with the loving heart of God. We cannot love at all apart from God’s love. The apostle John stated, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Great Commandment love cannot be manufactured; it is God’s love and compassion flowing in and through his people to draw a hurting world to himself. And as you deepen your love relationship with God, the most immediate benefit is the intimacy you enjoy with him.
Our world needs a relevant, vibrant body of believers who will serve as a shelter in the storm, a refuge from the pressures of life, a sanctuary of hope where hurts can be healed and spiritual needs can be met. Christ is the answer—we sincerely believe it. But the needy world has every reason to question the relevance of the answer if our lives and our ministries fail to exude Great Commandment love.
Are you aware of people in your community, in your circle of ministry, and perhaps even in your own home who are in need of a shelter, a refuge, a sanctuary? Do you long to provide solutions that are real, relevant, and revolutionary? Do you believe that God is the answer and that he desires to use his people as his ambassadors for communicating the answer to a hurting world?15