Last Sunday three questions were submitted in response to the message.
The one we addressed during the service was:
“How do we determine the difference between ministry for the Lord within the church (which can make us very busy) and work that is required to further the kingdom of God here on earth? This busyness can alienate us from our families that may not understand, and therefore our “Christian” example is not accomplishing anything to the people closest to us.”
Quick summary – we noted the importance of community helping us to discern the Spirit’s leading in collective wisdom. We can each be blind to ruts into which we fall, and so NEED input from each other to avoid distraction and keep on task for Jesus. One of the important parts of that is providing the affirmation and grace space and permission to say a holy “No” sometimes when good opportunities to serve come along – if we discern that this is NOT the particular task that the Lord would have us be engaged in at this particular point in time.
Two more questions:
A/ Referencing an earlier reading about the temptation of Jesus, Mark 1:9-13, Could Mark be saying that the wilds beasts and angels both ministered to Jesus? The beasts are a part of creation, put under the dominion of man, after all (see Ps 8:6-7).
Great question – and I had to do a bit of reading before answering here. Mark is the only gospel that mentions the wild animals. Most commentators see reference here to threats and danger, similar to the “wild” nations that threatened the people of Israel during their 40 years in the desert. Seen that way, it heightens the stark struggle Jesus faced in his temptation. As well as highlighting God’s sovereign care, similar to how He protected Daniel from the wild beasts in the lion den. But, and here’s where the question comes at it from a very interesting way, what if God used those animals to provide? We’re reading a bit between the lines – but, hey, there IS Old Testament precident for such an interpretation… 1 Kings 17 describes Elijah in the desert, and God commands the wild ravens to bring food to him. There, too, the Sovereign God provides.
So, in the end, no matter which way you interpret the verse, it is an encouragement to us – as we are in times of temptation, the Sovereign Lord holds the last word over our lives and does NOT allow us to be swallowed up by evil – but may actually, in fact, turn what Satan means for evil into something for our good.
B/ Thinking about the great commandment, “Love the Lord your God… and love your neighbor as yourself” – What does it mean to “love oneself” – the argument being that if we don’t love ourselves we can’t love others well?
Thanks for asking. It is very true, as the questioner points out, that there is a good and proper place for healthy “self-love.” And it is hard to be a loving presence in the lives of others if we are constantly down on and beating up on ourselves. So, yes, we DO need to be encouraging each other in healthy self-love. There are some wonderful scriptures that one could go to for that, such as Psalm 139. Thanks for the reminder about that.
However, I’m not so sure that the Great Commandment is, at its heart, a commandment towards self-love. Rather, it assumes self-love to be in place, and wants us to be sure to give AT LEAST AS MUCH love towards others as we do to ourselves. And for most of us, most of the time, this is the bigger problem. One of, if not THE, root sins has traditionally been understood to be….. pride. Google it sometime, and see how much comes up. Pride = love of self.
Assuming the traditional collective wisdom of believers to be correct in this regard, then the Great Commandment is a challenge to keep love of self in check, on a leash. Make sure we give others their due, and don’t suck up all the energy, time and resources on ourselves.
Great questions, brothers and sisters!! I look forward to hearing from you again after this Sunday’s message.
Remember, the question form is at the bottom of the study guide.
Fill it out, drop it in the offering plate, and I’ll be sure to offer a response, either during the service, or here in PKN.