Our Relationship with Others

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION   For the word of God is alive and active. We invite the Holy Spirit to penetrate our thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Let us pray….

Accept our prayers and praise, our spoken and unspoken words of thankfulness for being able to approach you, O God, through Jesus— the way, the truth and the life.  May this time of worship increase our desire to live lives which honor and glorify you.  Help our unbelief; give us the boldness, by the presence of your Spirit, to believe in your possibilities for us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. School us in the ways of faith and wisdom, that we may learn to truly see and hear, and in humility find blessing. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen..

ENCOUNTERING SCRIPTURE                         Mark 10:35-45           The Request of James and John

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN# 664       “Thy Word”

SCRIPTURE                                    2 Corinthians 5:11-15                       The Ministry of Reconciliation

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

THE SERMON           “Our Relationship with Others”

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – Mission Statement

 

 

 

A gift of being alive means we get to live in relationship with other people. It is also one of the biggest challenges in society comes from dealing with other people. As you may have watched the political debates or the Speaker of the House deliberations, it can be perplexing to get along with human beings who even hold the same basic ideology.

This is true for the Christian church too.  We may describe our congregation as a church family and we get along well. But even close families can bumps in the road because people come with different personalities. James and John argue about who will have positions of honor in heaven. They want special permission to sit on the Lord’s left and right hand, closest to the throne.

The ten were angry with James and John. Some probably wondered why they had not thought of it first. They did not want to get left behind. They wanted to look out for number 1, their own self-interest. Jesus meets them and sets them all straight. He redirects their focus not on glory, but service to others as the key to following Jesus. He invites them not to live by the worldly standards of success, but to serve others.

Most families contain at least one person with an interesting personality that makes family gatherings exciting.  The person focuses on their own needs instead of looking at the solution that would best serve the entire community. Think about the Freedom Caucus and their tirade willing to shut down the government instead of compromising with Democrats or the President who rejects Republican ideas because they are Republican ideas. We find gridlock, when we don’t want to be in relationship with others.

So how do we follow the Son of Man and serve those we meet. In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth, we hear encouragement for the journey of getting along with others. First, we begin with our relationship with God. When we’ve experienced the love of God we can love others, even those who may seem difficult to love. We practice Christian love by acknowledging that Christ died for my sins, my failures, and my human frailties and foibles. We then can look at the sins, failures, frailties, and foibles of others in a different life. Christ died for them too.

Look around you, Christ died for each person here. He also died for the folks who live outside this faith community, they just don’t know it or recognize it yet. God may use us to share the gentle love of Christ with a stranger, friend or family member. Christ instills empathy in us from one sinner to another. We can care for others because we know we are loved by God. We can reach out to touch their lives with compassion.

We welcome strangers to discover the grace of God. We can boast in God’s gift of grace and share the opportunity that God’s forgiveness covers the multitude of sins, including yours and mine. We can treat others with respect and dignity, because we are well known to God who pricks our conscience as we stumble along the path of righteousness. We discover second, third, and unlimited chances to regain our footing and walk beside Jesus our Lord in daily life.

We get to know strangers and develop friendships. We nurture our love for God by loving God’s people. We deeply care for people who’ve shared this faith journey. We pray for others and seek to intercede for the concerns of those we love. We listen to their struggles and offer a shoulder to lean or cry on. We walk a mile in their shoes and share their burdens. We offer a kindness that extends God’s concern for them. We may offer a card of encouragement, a call of concern, or meal from a friend. We may regularly check in with them to see if they doing well, serving them with Christian love. We send deacons to our homebound, but that does not absolve us of Christ call to care.

When a member of the family walks away from the fellowship, I’ve often heard that weeks, months, and even years go by and no one called them or asked where they were. They just drop off the face of the earth and it appears that no one noticed. This is not always the case, but it is the perception. So I’d encourage you to call, write a note, or make a visit to someone who wandered away from the flock.  I’d rather here that they walked away, but 5, 10, 25 friends called and listened to their story. In this way, we serve Christ by searching for the lost lambs.

We also may discover opportunities to boast of God’s activity in the lives of people who don’t even know that God exists. These individuals seem to be going through life without realizing God created them for a purpose. God wants to be in a relationship with them. The Lord can use us to open their hearts and minds as we tell of God’s activity in our life. We might plant a seed of hope that will invite someone to explore the grace of God.

Jesus came into the world to restore our relationship with God.  He developed relationships with many kinds of people. The Lord wants us to be in relationship with others, so that God can establish, nurture, and strengthen relationships with our Savior and Lord. TGBTG. Amen.

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