tripping over me

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name
but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
–Casting Crowns, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”

Question: Are we standing in the way of others getting closer to Jesus? Are we standing in the way of other coming to know Christ?

Our story today talks about two people in a relationship or friendship. The Word tells us they are brothers, maybe not in the “flesh and blood” sense, but in the body of Christ sense. These were people who knew each other. They werenot casual acquaintances.

hands

We are encouraged not to find fault with a brother until we deal with what we are dealing with. Jesus is trying to make a point by referring to the problem in “our own eye” as a plank while our brother has only a speck, or a flake. Is it possible that our own problem is larger because it is closer to us? Is it possible that our own problem is larger because it is also compounded, or added to, by the issue of us judging someone else? Or, is it larger because it is just larger? Who knows?

Are we standing in the way of others coming to know Christ?

There are two kinds of “judgment” referred to in the Bible. This reference means not to take God place as judge. People take this idea too far and say that we should not tell the difference between right and wrong. That is not the point here. In fact, vv. 15-23 of the same chapter talk about judging about the truth and the teaching of false disciples. We are not to put ourselves in a place of judging a person’s life. This is not my job. This is not your job. That one belongs to God. Only God can live up to a standard that only He could judge by!

Secondly, the passages referring to “judging” or “discerning” others are almost exclusively internally. How can we judge someone who does not know God by a standard that they do not know? It is like testing someone on material that you have not taught them or they do not know.

Have we forgotten where we came from?

We used to be in the same place…apart from God. If that is you this morning, then you are in good company because that is whom this church is for.

This is a real problem area for those who are on the “inside.” If we are not careful we can become more enthused, in love with, and passionate about our churches than we are about Jesus.-Doug Rea.

This explains how Jesus could eat with sinners and tax collectors and outsiders and Pharisees and disciples and… and… He was here to show them the Way, not to point out where they were always going wrong. In fact, the time when Jesus is recorded as becoming the most upset about the actions of others was inside a church!

I am personally glad that Jesus did not spend all of His time with just those who agreed with Him. If He never reached out of His inner circle, where would we be today? If Paul had never carried the word to the Gentiles, a word that in most contexts almost means outsider, where would we be today?

Sometimes it is not what we say, but how we say it.

The song we listened to today (“Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns) mentioned that there is a “world at the end of our pointing fingers.” There are families… There are people… There are situations that we don’t know anything about… There are God’s creations… at the end of our pointing fingers. Why make a situation worse by how we respond to it?

Don’t misunderstand me about this… You don’t have to act like someone else to love someone else. You don’t have to agree with someone else to love someone else. You don’t have to be like someone else to love someone else.

Those We Walk With (Maundy Thursday 2012)

Title: Those We Walk With
Series: Walking the Roads of Easter (Maundy Thursday)
Scripture: Luke 22:7-30
Theme(s): Fellowship, Company, Friendship, Communion, Community
OUTLINE
Stop and smell the roses (22:7-16)
Remember the past and realize the future (22:17-20)
Be careful who you walk with (22:21-27)

INTRODUCTION
As we travel down the various roads and paths of life, we come across fellow travelers. Some of these travelers are headed to the same destination we are, and some are headed to other places. As we walk with these other people, we develop relationships, a kind of communion, with them. These special relationships help to start our own community of living. During their travels, Jesus spends some important, quality time with His followers and during that time, we can find some guidance for us as we travel along together. The message of fellowship and walking together still echoes down through eternity to us today. Jesus is showing us that we need to: stop and smell the roses; remember the past and realize the future; and to be careful who we choose to walk beside.

STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES
While we travel, we should enjoy the special moments that we come across. We should take time to pause and embrace the joy of fellowship.

Jesus was excited and eager to take this moment with His followers—His closest friends and His traveling companions. Jesus was happy to and even desired to share this experience with those He was closest to (v. 15). They had just finished a trip together leading up to His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. Along the way, He had led them through some very interesting places and introduced them to many interesting people. He knew the importance of taking time while He had it. Jesus was prepared for their last meal together (v. 13). He wanted everything to be perfect. He wanted this moment for them. He knew what He was going to have to face and go through. He even alluded at the end of verse 15 to a time when He would experience great suffering. He knew His time was short. And yet, He still took these precious moments to break bread with these His closest friends.

In our fast-paced, Wi-Fi, social network, web conference, email, text, smartphone-enabled, and speed dating lifestyles, we do not take a lot of time to connect in real life. Online shopping is replacing shopping at stores. Borrowing a book has been replaced by downloading one digitally. How many of us have more Facebook friends than actual friends? We are not taking time anymore to connect, to mentor, to love, to guide. Conversations are being shortened to quick language texts. Letters between friends are being replaced by quick emails. Did you know that phone companies are developing a phone that you cannot make a call from? It is for email, text, and Internet only. Jesus tells His followers that He will not celebrate Passover with them again. He would not celebrate with them like this ever again. This was the last party, their last time together. He wanted them to take a moment and enjoy each other’s company.

REMEMBER THE PAST AND REALIZE THE FUTURE
If we ignore our past, we are doomed to repeat it. There is a tendency to only focus on what is ahead and not where we have come from. We must never forget where we come from because then, and only then, do we know how far we have come. You can’t gauge progress without having a starting point.

There were two elements to Jesus’ presentation during His last meal with the disciples. First, He held up a cup of wine. He thanked God and shared it with His friends. He would later explain that this cup would represent the new covenant between God and His people. Earlier in Jewish history, God had made a covenant promise with Abraham to give him, and by extension the people, the Promised Land. This was a covenant promise that God later fulfilled. He has been keeping His word. Now, through the “blood” of Christ, He was making a new covenant promise with His people. What makes this new covenant so special? It is special because Jesus guarantees it with His own blood. The old covenant promise with Abraham was made with the blood of animals, sacrificed for the people. This new covenant was stronger because it had a better guarantee: the blood of Christ.

Secondly, He offers His followers the pieces of bread. He instructed them to do this in “remembrance of me.” He was offering them a piece of Himself. He was helping them to create a memory they could come back to and remember. This was a mile marker along their journey. They could see how far they had come and how much they had progressed by these mile markers of remembrance.

As we journey together, there is a lot of talk about what the future holds, where we are going as a society, the great promise our collective future will bring. And, while we truly have a great future in eternity with the Father, we must take a moment to acknowledge what got us here. Jesus said earlier in His time with the disciples that He had come to fulfill the law and not to destroy it (Matthew 5:17). What is ironic about this moment is that His biggest adversaries were the teachers of the law! They thought that He had come to take away their “followers.” In essence, He was carrying on the legacy handed down by their forefathers and completing it. Through this time, Jesus was calling them to remember their past and realize their future. They were to build on what had gotten them to this point as a people.

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU WALK WITH
John Maxwell says that everybody that we meet is an elevator. Some people take you up and some take you down. Some people build us up and some people tear us down. We have to be careful who we choose to share our journey with.

In Luke 22: 21-27, Jesus gives us two examples of those who are not going to help us along the way. The first example is a direct example. Jesus tells His followers that one of them is going to betray Him. The second example comes when Jesus sees His followers arguing amongst themselves. They had just been told that one of them was a traitor. After spending a couple moments trying to figure out who the person was and never showing concern about Jesus, they start to fight. They are trying to figure out who the greatest among them was. Both the direct and indirect examples are of people who are not going to help us along the way.

Jesus deals with both of these bad examples of relationships by telling them that things are going to be different for them. He asks them a question about who is greater: the one who sits at a table or the one who serves them? While He is directly speaking to the infighting among them about rank, you can see that He is also responding to Judas’ betrayal. Judas was being coerced and seduced by the leaders who wanted Jesus out of the way. But let’s face it, Judas was dealing with his own issues. In an earlier story, Judas was the one who complained about the expense of the offering the woman used to anoint Jesus’ feet. John 12:6 also mentions that he was a thief and as keeper of the money bags, would often dip into them himself. Stealing and working with the religious leaders speaks of a quest for power and position. Judas wanted it all. He wanted the position and prestige. Judas wanted to be the one who was being served at the table. Jesus “turns the tables” on this kind of thinking by saying that the one who serves is greater.

Both the direct and indirect examples can hinder our development and our progress. True friendships and caring relationships are hard to come by these days. It takes work to develop and nurture these special bonds. Sometimes for us to see growth, we have to be willing to not allow certain influences in our lives.

Encouragement Through Discipline (New Year’s Resolutions)

Hebrews 12:4-13 

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Children need guidance (12:7-9)

The point of parenting is to teach our children how to make the best choices. Children need rules. They need limitations. They need boundaries. We love our children by not allowing them to hurt themselves. Verse 8 says that we are not legitimate if we have not undergone discipline. Verse 9 says that we learn to respect from discipline.

We need guidance (12:10-11)

We receive discipline and guidance because it is leading us to what is good.  We will receive a share in his holiness. Discipline is never meant to be easy or pleasant. The short term is not the goal. We are in this for the long haul. Verse 11 tells us that we can know righteousness and peace because we have been trained for it.

We become good examples for others (12:12-13)

We are being trained for a purpose. We should “strengthen” our arms and knees to support others. When you lift something up, you use your arms and knees. As we are lifted up, we should lift up others! We undergo training and discipline to strengthen us to be strong for others!

Graphic from the Ministry Toolkit and Lindsey Fleeman