A Visible Truth

A few years ago a neighbor came to my door to talk to me about how one of my sons had really hurt his son’s feelings. Now he was a big strong navy seal, not a doting mother, telling me how my son had hurt his son’s feelings so badly that he had come to him crying and beside himself about it. I knew it was serious. His son was a good friend of my kids, so much so that he was at our house on a daily basis. He was probably the most kind-hearted, compassionate child I have ever met and I loved him like my own. So to hear that my son had hurt him to the point of going to his father in tears broke my heart. Not so much because I expected perfection out of my son but because of my love for the other child.

It felt as if I had some part in causing his pain, because my son who is a part of me, a reflection of my heart had hurt him.

I got to thinking about that and was immediately convicted. How many times had I poorly reflected my heavenly father’s love for someone in my own less than compassionate interactions with people? God’s emphasis on us loving people suddenly become more clear. We are His children. We’re called to represent his values, his heart in our broken world When we hurt others it pains His heart as well.

In our study in 2 Chronicles this week we considered what people might think about God as a result of their interactions with us…It’s a great question to ponder, a good thing to remember as we walk out our lives professing Christianity..

We’ll be picking up in the epistle of 3rd John this week. It’s the second book in our 3 book series that discusses the importance of discerning truth. This week John will point out several characters who were actually really good at revealing the truth of God’s character. Their lives, in other words, reflected a visible truth.

How did Gaius reveal the truth of the Gospel in vs 5-6? In that ancient culture hospitality was considered almost a duty even on the secular side. Because of the lack of public accommodations, traveling ministers were dependent on the hospitality of others to house and feed them as they went around spreading the good news. Would you consider opening your home to help a traveling minister or someone in need? We certainly live in a different day and culture today. What might prevent you from doing so? How might we be able to be generous in this regard today?

Our next character isn’t so hospitable. He provides a sharp contrast with the goodness seen in Gaius. What does John suggest the church do in regards to his behavior in vs 11? It’s suggested that Gaius and Diotrephes were part of the same church there in Asia and that Gaius could have been a victim of one of Diotrephes’ excommunications. What does John do in vs 9-10 in light of Diotrephes’ obvious offenses? What doesn’t he suggest or do? In our prior epistle John had warned the church pretty seriously about allowing false teachers to share in their churches. Is it possible Diotrephes was just protecting them from that sort of thing? What do you think is the goal of John’s open rebuke? There was clearly some disunity developing there in the church. What do we learn from the way John handled this about maintaining unity in our own community? How can we rightly represent God’s character in community to a watching world ?

The third character introduced in our text is Demetrius. While the details we have of his life are brief they speak volumes. Who does he obtain a good report from in vs 12? Is there a person or persons or situation where other’s assessments of your character wouldn’t be so glowing? Why do you think it would be important that our character be consistent with everyone? Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. In other words while we were still hating, resisting and cursing him he gave everything, his very life, to reveal Gods love to us. How hard is it to treat those who mistreat us with that kind of self giving love? What would it reveal if we were able to love in the face of hate?

It will be a challenging study for sure. Hope to see ya’ll there!!

No Privatized Faith

Did you grow up in a family with siblings?  Did you ever disagree on anything with your brothers or sisters?  Ever get into an all-out brawl over anything?  If you were part of a family with siblings, and you answered no on any of the other questions, you are A) in total denial and unable to process reality correctly; or B) an alien for whom Scully and Mulder have been searching in vain for these two score years.

Point is…families fight. They just do.  The Christian church is oft described as the family of God…and we shouldn’t be surprised that as God’s family, we fight too!  Jesus is going to give us some instruction concerning this, in a series of sayings that require us to engage in some serious self-inspection.

We’ll be reading Luke 17:1-10 this Sunday (Father’s Day…happy happy! – then it’s off to the beach for Surf N Grill!!!!)

It’s my consideration that v1-2 are a transition, where Jesus is still talking about the bad behavior and attitudes of the Pharisees.  We aren’t told to judge them back…but that’s not to say that judgement is non-existent.  With eternity in view…what should we feel for those who try to put a stumbling block in our path of faith?

V3-4 change the focus to US.  How are WE supposed to deal with offenses within our community of faith?  Sluff things off, tell white lies that “nothing’s wrong”….or what does Jesus instruct?

If someone wrongs us, we’re commanded to forgive.  Not just once…but open-endedly.  How does that work for you?

By v5-10, the disciples are in a panic because this seems like impossible stuff to live out. They need more faith…they really want superpowers to accomplish this change in reaction.  But Jesus doesn’t seem to indicate that more faith is the answer.  What DOES Jesus indicate as the key to living out this forgiving love in real life?

Should be an interesting read this Sunday…hope to see you there!

Beach Burn

What if the church…instead of trying to drum up business through clever marketing schemes…just started practicing their faith in public?  Not as an outreach program…not in order to get a head count of how many “prayed the prayer”…just a community following their corporate convictions, but out in public. 

In Acts 2, the most effective “evangelism” that was happening, was that people were able to observe Christ followers…without any pressure to do or pray anything.

I don’t know…there was something pretty special about our Burning House on the beach.

What do you think?