Reflection Questions: Standing with Jesus Between Celebrations
by Pastor Gene
Greetings Church! The questions I’ll present over the next few weeks will look at some of the themes we encountered in the Holy Week messages when we had no questions. May these questions help us to go deeper and grow nearer in every way!
- On Palm Sunday, I preached a message called ‘Standing with Jesus Between the Celebrations.’ In it, I argued that just as very few of Jesus’ followers stood with Him between the celebrations of Palm Sunday & Resurrection Sunday, very few are standing with Him today, between His two advents. Do you agree? How are they not standing? Why not? How have believers lost their way?
- A statement attributed to Martin Luther reads: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all other battle fronts, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” Please consider this statement carefully, piece by piece. Is it true? What do you think is the “little point which the world and the devil are” at THIS “moment attacking” Jesus? Is the Church defending Christ in that point? Is it vocal, or largely silent? Even worse, is it complicit? Apathetic? Are you? In which areas has the Church failed to defend Jesus over the past 50 or so years? How’s that worked out for our country?
- Think about basic Christian views of money, prosperity, success, moral (sexual) purity, living ‘in’ the world. Has the Church lost its way? How have the things that are important to the world become important to modern Christians? Has the message changed (1 Jn 2:15-17)? Is a different message being proclaimed in Jesus’ name? How’s that worked out?
- One early document that was important to the Church was called, The Shepherd of Hermas. Written about AD 120, it was widely accepted as authoritative Scripture in Christian communities (it was ultimately rejected for inclusion into the New Testament Canon). In one section, Hermas is shown a vision of the Church (true believers) as a tower being built up of white, hewn stones. However, some of the available stones are round and are not suitable for use in the construction. Those stones are not rejected, but are put to the side until they’ve been cut (hewn). They represent believers who are saved, but who still rely on their wealth and success in this world. As such, they cannot be used to build this new, Jesus-led community yet. First, their hearts have to be ‘reshaped’ by the Word of God – their reliance upon money and the things of the world have to be taken from them. Reflect on this parable as a group. Has the modern Church tried to build the Church with unsuitable stones? How does this ‘tower’ look to the world today? Does it please the Lord? Are its foundations strong, or tottering? Are you a suitable stone for the Lord’s tower?
- Jesus spoke of the importance of ‘counting the cost’ before building a tower – or else the foundation might be laid, but the tower left unfinished. He spoke of how this unfinished tower would become and object of mockery, rather than praise. Here, He’s speaking of a believer choosing to really follow Him, to become a disciple. Read and discuss Luke 14:28-30. What does Jesus mean about ‘counting the cost’?
- Now back up and read the preceding verses, Luke 14:26-27. What is the cost of following Jesus? Which parts of our lives and priorities change when we decide to follow Him?
- Now read Luke 14:26-30 as a whole. What’s the ‘big picture’ Jesus is painting for us here? Think about those ‘round stones’ that haven’t yet been hewn by God’s Word. How can they be made useful to the Builder? What would the Church look like today if every believer met the criteria of Luke 14:26-27? What does it look like today?
February 18, 2024
Reflection Questions: “I Am … the Bright Morning Star” (John 8.41, Isaiah 14.12, 2 Pet 1.16-2 & Revelation22.16)
February 11, 2024