Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Club Blog : Luke 9,10

This weekend, I heard a story about the kingdom of God breaking in.

My friend had a challenging workplace situation - people were tense, blaming each other, trying to cover up their own mistakes and highlight the mistakes of others. In the middle of that my friend, being a follower of Jesus, inserts a new thing - forgiveness, serving others instead of her own agenda, the offer of friendship. It changed the tone, opened a way for something new.

"Every disciple," Jesus said, "when fully trained, will be like her master."

In the early chapters of Luke we saw that the promised kingdom of God breaks in. The kingdom is announced: good news for those who recognize that they are poor and welcome the invitation.
Now there is a shift, How will the kingdom of God, the reign of God come? Now we begin to see his plan: the kingdom comes through ordinary people who join Him in the Way.

In Luke 9 the training begins. The whole middle part of Luke – (9:51- 19:27) is a long section that takes them from Galilee to Jerusalem. If you have a “red-letter edition” you will see that it is almost all red letters. Jesus is training his followers. Here are some observations about that training:

  • Jesus gives them his own power and authority (9:1) to “overcome all the power of the enemy.” (10:18)
  • He commissions them to do just what He does: announce the kingdom, heal the sick, defeat evil. (9:1)
  • Herod is perplexed. The crowd is confused. It is the ones who follow him who see him for who he really is. (9:7, 19, 28-36)
  • Jesus tells them to do something they can’t do with their own resources - feed the crowd. They need to learn that they are dependent on him for resources. Jesus feeds the crowd – through his followers.
  • They are with him – when he withdraws to pray and when he enters the fray. (oops, sorry, inadvertent rhyme ). They are always learning from him to be true sons and daughters. (remember that Luke points out that there were women following too.)
  • They are invited to the way of the cross. He sets his face towards Jerusalem – the place of his “exodus” (Most versions say ‘departure”- but the word is actually exodus!) The way he invites them along is not one of power and success. The way Jesus rules is not by killing his enemies – but by dying for them.
  • Like Jesus, they were invited to a singular focus, a singular allegiance to the Kingdom of God. (9:57-62)
  • They are nothing special: they lack faith, they don’t understand, they have some bad ideas (shall we blast them?? They thought they were Jack Bauer), they wanted to be “the greatest”, and they are not wise and learned but little children. (They come back excited over what God has done through them – and Jesus thanks God that he hasn’t revealed this to the smart people! Kind of pointed, don’t you think?)
  • They are blessed – happy and privileged – to see what they see when they follow Jesus.
  • There is “one thing necessary” (10:41) – and that is to learn from Jesus, sitting at his feet.

    Now – a question in my mind. Why is the story of the Good Samaritan placed there? Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Christy said...

I am preparing to leave North Africa in two weeks, and am trying to finish up certain ministry goals and hand things over to others well.

The two major concerns I have are with a house church, whose main leadership will rest on the shoulders of my North African roommate, and a student program organized around community service and discussion/reflection times that I’m handing to an American teammate.

The student program has been two years in the making and involves some Christian students with other Muslim students who have been in my English classes at the university. I’ve tried to find a center that would receive us as a group of about 10-15 all together. I talked with the orphanage, a handicap home, and nothing was working out. Last week I was required to split the group up and send them in different directions in teams of four or smaller for the practical service time.

One group went with an older Christian man to distribute boxes of food in a slum area. One group went to a cancer hospice home just to listen to people talk. One group went to a hospital wing where babies abandoned by their mothers (because it’s shameful to have a baby outside of marriage) are also neglected by the nursing staff and need to be held and changed and fed.

We will meet back together this Saturday to share our different experiences of what we did and felt and learned. Then the places of service will be reassigned for the next month.

As we’re reading Luke 9 and 10, I was struck how the 12 and later the 72 were commissioned as a large group, sent out in small groups (pairs) then came back together as a large group to report and share what happened.

Proclamation of the kingdom is not a part of our ‘going out’ here, but evangelism is a goal for the Christians in the group with the other student participants.

I wonder if what happened in Luke 9 and 10 would be a good literal model for ministry here. I’ve been in lots of discussions lately about church growth. There are some church leaders here who want to control everything and to only have large meetings that they lead. In an effort to defer to national leadership, the missionaries have supported their efforts. The talks lately have centered around how it’s necessary for church growth to have leaders not control everything, or have a few large meetings, but rather to empower others, and let things multiply more organically in smaller groups. There is no limit to growth like that.

I would like to share the Luke 9 and 10 passage with the Christian students in the community service program. Most of them come to our house church on Tuesday nights, so maybe I’ll share it in that time. I am scheduled to facilitate the discussion my last Tuesday in town.