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Living the Lectionary

A starting point from week to week in my Journey from A-C

Month

June 2014

Fear Factor: A reflection on Matthew 10:24-39

I used to watch this show called Fear Factor.  It’s a stunt show where people face their fears in an effort to win money.  There are three rounds and the first stunt is usually something that doesn’t seem too bad (at least to those of us sitting at home watching who don’t have to complete the task).  Then they move on, usually to eating something really gross like live bugs.  Then for the final round there is a big stunt to complete.  People are eliminated either for being to slow or simply because they are unable to complete the task, but every one of them enters into the competition willingly because they want to win the cash prize at the end.

Sometimes Christians experience a real fear factor just for walking with the Lord.  I don’t know too much about that after all the worst thing that’s happened to me for being a Christian is I’ve lost a couple Facebook friends.  Sometimes though I am still afraid to be his disciple, because I am afraid of the cost, even though it’s probably not going to cost me my life.

The same is not true for other Christians around the world though.  There are Christians who are being threatened daily for their lives, they are beaten, tortured, killed because they follow Christ.  Jesus earliest disciples and the original readers of Matthew would know this fear all too well, and that’s why Jesus talks about it.

He reminds them that they are not going to go anywhere that he himself has not already gone, and they are not above the master.  Jesus reminds them that the threat they will face is not greater than the promise of his presence, and his care for them.  It outweighs the fear they may face.

That’s easy for me to say, sitting on this side of the world.  But for me it serves as a good reminder that there is no need to be afraid to be a Jesus follower in the world today, because he’s got my back and the goal is worth the cost.

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Evangelism 101

I’ve missed a couple weeks now, but it has been a busy couple for me.  The following is a reflection on the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:16-20

When it comes to evangelism Christians at least in my limited observation, seem to go to one of two extremes.  We either want to beat people over the head, or we don’t want to say anything about it at all.  Both in my opinion are the wrong thing.

For two summers when I was in college I went out to Ottawa to work with my sister who lived there at the time.  We would sometimes go to the shopping center that was “downtown” (at least I think it was).   On one particular day we got off the bus and there was a man there shouting out to the city.  REPENT, REPENT Ottawa.  I don’t know exactly what the guy was calling people to repent of, and I am not sure he knew either.  What I am sure of though was rather than drawing me closer to the faith this guy was pushing me away.  It wasn’t an effective method of evangelism.  That’s the first thing I think that we’re doing wrong, shouting at people without knowing anything about them and expecting them to be scared into our faith.

The second thing is when we don’t say anything.  Faith is not a personal issue.  It may be personal in the way that we know and understand Jesus, but it is not something that is supposed to be kept as our “personal relationship”.  Faith can and should affect the very people that we are, and it shapes how we interact with the world around us.  In other words we talk about the things that are important to us.

Maybe we are overbearing, or too timid because we’re afraid each for different reasons.  The overbearing are often afraid of being challenged, because if they are challenged then the potential is there for aspects of their faith to unravel, so they feel the need to ward off doubt by aggressiveness.  The timid are sometimes afraid because they already recognize that they don’t have all the answers.

I take heart in the text today then because it tells us flat out that some of the very people who were there to SEE Jesus risen from the dead doubted.  Yet they were all, the faithful and the doubters, called to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you”.  (Matthew 28:19-20)

In New Testament class in college I learned that this command of Jesus to GO, can be better translated as you go.  So as you go throughout life let the light of Jesus shine forth from you, as you go share your experience and even your doubts.  We need not be too pushy or too timid, but recognize that Holy Spirit guides and directs and gives power to be a people of the kingdom of God who are able to welcome others to it.

 

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