Tough Words 092715
Children’s message: when you’re thirsty, and someone gives you a drink of water, it’s like Jesus giving you God’s love…. When you’re tired, and someone snuggles with you it’s like Jesus giving you God’s love ….when you’re sick and you get medicine…..when you’re hurt and you need a bandaid….. when you’re sad and someone gives you a hug…etc
And it feels so good, doesn’t it?
in today’s story from the Bible Jesus wants us to do those loving things for other people—take one of these little paper cups, with a smile on it and keep it where you can see it…ask God to help us do these things for other people.
And for you older youth and grown ups…. Jesus goes on to speak some tough words, that come out of that tough love…strong language to get our attention and show us just how important this is.
2 wks ago we talked about how words matter, today it’s about how actions matter: be gentle with other people’s feelings and faith and be attentive to our own behavior and how it affects other people: remember the children’s song, be careful little hands what you do…..do my actions show the Jesus way? Little feet where you go….do I go places that speak against the Jesus way? Little eyes what you see….do I watch or read things that hurt the Jesus way in me?
This section from Mark’s gospel might indicate some tensions in the early days of the church, about who really was a Christian and who wasn’t (lots of judgment going on today about this too).
John’s question indicates he thinks there’s a “them and us” about the church; he’s thinking exclusive -- we have a special relationship with Jesus so we’re right and they’re not….
Jesus indicates that’s not how it is.
Don’t worry about judging others, we’re all in this together… we may not like how some other Christian operates, but anyone faithfully following my way in some other group isn't our enemy, says Jesus And this made me realise that Jesus is also saying, don’t be comparing yourself to someone else…..not just positively (I’m in and he’s out) but also negatively (I’m not as good as….I wish I was more like so and so)
And because this is a story of the early church experience, we don’t want to be comparing ourselves to some other congregation that does something differently (we’ve been benchmarking with similarly staffed congregations recently, which might be useful organizationally, but not definitive spiritually at all)-in the way God speaks in The Shack, we are all particularly special
We need to understand that God works outside of us, and in spite of us, as well as with us. Humbling, huh?
So having got us turned back to center, away from looking out at others in the Jesus way, Jesus says
look inward, look at yourself….it’s about what YOU do that I’m concerned about…..YOU have a deep impact on one another’s faith development….from a simple kindness like a cup of cold water (=support), to everything we do, say, where we go, what we pay attention to: it all matters. In fact, the earliest comment from outsiders about the Jesus people, the church, was “see how they love one another”. Not, see how they argue with one another.. or see how they segregate one another….or see how they gossip about one another, no, see how they love one another.
How we live our ordinary lives matters. Do I help others, or does what I do trip them up….stumbling block (share the apocryphal airport story about tipped over fruit cart…)
Jesus is asking us to take a hard look—tough love comes with tough words—at our lives:
what within us and our behavior causes us to sin, or be distanced from the Jesus way? Some habit…..
some gossip topic….
Whatever it is, cut it out! Not just because it’s not the Jesus way, but because it also hurts someone else. Everything we do (hand), everywhere we go (feet), everything we pay attention to (eyes), points someone else to or away from God.
Tough words. get it? Got it? Good. Now let’s practice it, and live in peace with one another…..