1. I didn’t pick up any new nuggets from the lecture. I did, however, take issue with one statement—”Our calling is to serve in the church. So if you don’t already have a job in the church, ask your pastor where the needs are.”
Jesus said we are salt and light of the earth/world. Not of the church.
Of. The. World.
Serving in the church is fine, I guess, if you can do it without losing your soul, or your family, or your health. (Trying not to get off on a tangent here about all the activities and programs churches have these days.) But what about all of the others we rub elbows with all day long?
- On the phone? I know a woman in her eighties who shares the good news every time the phone rings. Even it is a wrong number or a telemarketer.
- Via text? I recently replied to a text without realizing I was replying to all. One recipient of my text replied something like, “I think you may have intended this text for someone else. However, I don’t believe this is a coincidence. Did you know Jesus loves you?”
- At the grocery store? With the cashier at Walmart who is visibly in pain?
- With our neighbors? I have three, 90-year-old neighbors on my street. One of them insists he is going to hell.
Our calling is to be salt and light everywhere. All the time.
If we as Christians loved on the people around us—genuinely motivated by God’s love rather than some other agenda—perhaps we would see the kingdom grow the way the early church did.
2. Jesus’ instruction to pray for laborers rather than advertise or organize enthusiastic helpers stood out to me. Otherwise, the laborers will be powerless and the harvest will go up in smoke when tried by fire.
I’ve rarely seen this put into practice in the institutional churches I’ve attended. Deacons are elected by vote and other laborers are recruited, begged, prodded, etc. (I’ve been guilty of doing that myself. ) Hopefully, we do pray for laborers both in and out of church settings.
Admittedly, I usually think of the laborers in this verse as evangelists rather than nursery workers, musicians, ushers, etc. Perhaps I need to rethink that. If we had fewer workers and fewer programs, would that be so bad?
3. a. John was focused on and expected to see judgment come quickly. Yet he languished in prison, unable to witness Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons.
b. Jesus gives the points outlined in Isaiah 61:1-3 in reference to the coming Messiah—the same passage Jesus read following His forty day fast in the desert.
c. Even though I do bring questions to the Lord, I can’t say I bring my doubts about Him. I think I feel guilty when I have doubts, so I just try to get rid of them on my own. How silly of me. I can’t believe I never realized that until now.
4. Isaiah 29:18-19—Jesus opened deaf ears and healed blind eyes.
Isaiah 35:5-6—Jesus healed the deaf-mute by casting out a demon, and he healed the blind. He healed a paralyzed man who picked up his mat and walked.
Isaiah 61:1-3—In addition to miracles, Jesus showed compassion to the lost sheep who had been abused and burdened by the Pharisees. Jesus forgave sins and provided forgiveness for all.
5. Perhaps Jesus was referring to those who, unlike John, lived to experience the new birth Jesus provided in His own death and resurrection. They would experience the new covenant rather than the limitations of the old. They would also have the opportunity to be baptized with fire as John had prophesied.