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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday School addendum: "Receive then Give"

Groups identified around Jesus:
1. Enemies are those set against Him and His work. 1 John calls them the anti-christ. It includes those who kill Him and also those whose unbelief leads them to reject Him and His ministry. Sadly, this is in all of us to some degree. (Those identified include but are not limited to; Satan, Jewish Leaders, Romans, World, Judas, His family, Peter)
2. Indifferent folks are not mentioned, but no doubt some did not really care as they were busy with life. This is the "beaten path" in the parable, or the shallow soil. or the weed infest places...
3. Crowds gather around to receive what Jesus is providing. The question "What's in it for me?" is what motivates them so they blow with the wind. The ones who screamed "Hosana" one day cry out "Crucify Him" a week later. The church attracts people who come to get something; they rarely come to worship but they show up to get help with bills, counseling, children's ministry, all the things that we provide for free. However, many regular worshippers are in the crowd. Like the Jews who heard Jesus they worship God, but they do not invest in a relationship with Him. Too often, they are content to come and have a "good worship experience" and enjoy a sermon or church fellowship event. They are outwardly active but in their hearts they stand at a distance. All of us, from time to time, are in this group too.
4. Followers are those who ‘believe’, seeing Jesus as the Lord and Messiah. All of us in the church should be followers. We receive instruction, ministry and care, we find companionship and support. These are all good things and one major function of the church (call it "fellowship and discipleship"). We want to follow Jesus and learn and grow. However, it is still all about "receiving"...
5. Insiders; 12 disciples were called to be with Him, to be committed students and friends. This is the stage of investing your life in Jesus and be a person of prayer and serious about holiness. At this stage of relationship one receives the teaching and instruction for more radical living in Christ.
Apostles those sent out in His Name to continue His work. This is the ultimate purpose of 'discipling'. I am healed and renewed, I understand and am living in abundance then I go to give it to others. Jesus said, "What you have received as a gift, give as a gift."

1 Corinthians 6
Do you not know your bodies are members of Christ?

Do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit?

Once we see the world from this perspective we encounter it differently. Jesus sees opportunities where we see problems. He brings good news where we see despair. He offers hope where the world tells us to "temper expectations." He raises the dead and we bury them! If the same spirit is in us that is in Him and He is present in and through us then whatever we read that He did, we can do.... If we believe.

John 10:9-11  “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
The Greek word Perissmos means abundant, more than enough, over and above, beyond what is needed. 
Church life should look like more than enough,"over and above" living. If we are Christ--Him in us and we in Him--then Christ should be present in us and through us. It is not about some day only, it is also about today!

John 20:19-23  Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent (apostello) Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
Hamartia-sin- be without a share, miss the mark, err, wander from the path, do wrong, violate god’s Law
Aphiemi-forgive- send away (divorce), let go, go away, leave alone, let be; disregard, yield up, remit a debt, cancel a debt.

The world is full of people who miss the mark (all of us). We wander off and just live in error. Sin is part of it, but being in error is not only moral and ethical. It is also ignorance, or mistaken ideas. The way is narrow, says Jesus in another place. It is easy to lose your way off a narrow path. Jesus (and now we, Him in us) throws away all that is wrong. He expels it and cuts it off. The debt is ignored and treated as a non debt. This is our life in Jesus and each disciple must be an apostle, every follower is sent in Jesus name. In the end, that is what church is about. Making the crowd into disciples, making disciples into apostles. It is God's work, the Holy Spirit in us, and it is our vocation. "Be Jesus" is not an effort, it is a gift. We are Jesus by God's gracious act. Living faithfully to who we are, however, is a challenge. It takes effort. We have help, but we have to do it. We do, every day, starting now.  

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