Sunday, January 13, 2013

Risk Loving Like Jesus

"Good morning I’m going to talk about risk for the next few weeks. Premise: faith is inherently connected to risk, and risk is associated with fear. There are many places where God nudges us to take risks…" So began our service this morning with Pastor Shannon's welcome.

1. A shower would be held after the service to celebrate the gift of new life in two families, LeeAnn & Jake Vanderscheuren and Katie & Eric Borndal.
2. Council will meet Tuesday at its usual time.

Darlene, Ken and Chuck opened the worship time by singing “I Believe In Miracles.” After a time of worship the offering was taken while trio sang “Give Them All To Jesus... Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys... give them all to Jesus and he will turn your sorrow into joy."

Scripture: James 2:1-12

Risk Loving Like Jesus 

James is one of the most practical and direct books, so Brad began by inviting us to fasten our seat belts as he read for us two verses from today's Scripture reading.

The passage in James 2 begins with this straightforward statement: "My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism."

Want to know a secret? Nearly all of us have a list in our heads of who we like to be with and a list of    undesirables. We prefer to be around people of status or wealth and insulate ourselves from some. Others prefer to be around educated people. Some want to be around white collar people, and avoid blue collar. And vice versa. Then there’s thin and not so thin. And then skin color…

With God there is no partiality of any kind. It needs to be rooted out of our hearts and out of our church.You see it in Romans 2:11 also. "With God there is no partiality."

What is the origin of prejudice? It usually starts with parents. A second source of prejudice comes from peer groups. Once that poison of partiality is in the system, there is no human way to root it out.We need God's help.

When Jesus started his ministry He seized every opportunity to expose this.

In Mark 3 Jesus was in the synagogue on the Sabbath and the Pharisees had set up a sting operation, attempting to catch Jesus working on the Sabbath. In those days, the Pharisees had such a system of dos and don'ts over every aspect of the Law and especially around what you couldn't do on the Sabbath so when Jesus was speaking they had arranged for a man with a shriveled hand to be right there. Jesus sized up what is going on and got angry, grieved to His core at the hardness of heart in these religious people who would use this man's liability for their own ends. The tragic reality is they hated Him so much that right off they wanted to kill Him because this healing and He didn't pay homage to their rules.

On another occasion Jesus and the disciples were walking through Samaria and when they came to a well He sent the disciples on ahead into town. A Samaritan woman had come out to fetch water, a woman who good Jews would normally not talk to. Jesus didn't follow those conventions. He spoke with her, engaged her in conversation and changed her life. By his behavior Jesus was stating that this woman mattered and that women matter.

Religious leaders also disliked his Jesus’ choices of who to hang out with. In Luke 15 is sharing with tax collectors and sinners while Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered amongst themselves. Jesus knew what was annoying them and responded with three parables in a row: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. These people matter to God. That which is missing is valuable enough for an all out search.

In every case, retrieval brings rejoicing. “There is joy all across heaven when a single sinner repents.”

Then Pastor Brad stated "You have never looked into the eyes of a person who does not matter to God. Every single person your eyes fall upon matters to God. They are people for whom Christ died, they deserve your respect."

Jesus in his last hours, even as He hung on the cross, saw others in this way. One of the thieves nailed there that day who had wasted his life making wrong choices looked to Jesus, knowing he could never clean up his act now, wondered, "What if even someone like me mattered? After all I've done... "

And he asks, "Jesus, is there any chance you'd remember someone like me when you come into your kingdom?"

Jesus replied, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise."

Brad paraphrased, "In spite of all you've done, you still matter to Me. You've mattered to me since the day you were born. You mattered to Me when you were headed the wrong way.You mattered to Me when you did your first heist, when you were arrested the first time, when you got locked up the first time. ... on the basis of your humility and faith, I can say to you, 'Welcome home.'"

This is a love of a different kind.  It should melt your heart and change the way you look at other people. It should motivate us to reach out to those whom we've diminished, to be the first to say always, "You matter to God."

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