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Daily Devotional

I Want to Unfold

Today’s devotion includes a scripture verse, an insight and a poem - all about listening to your own life to be aware of what God may be up to today within you. Choose one and carry it with you today, asking “What is God doing inside of me today?”

The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways. - Proverbs 21:29

I discovered that if you really keep your eye peeled to it and your ears open, if you really pay attention to it...there is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him...If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this:  Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.  In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. - Frederick Buechner

I want to unfold.
I don't want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded, there I am a lie.
And I want my grasp of things
true before you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I looked at closely for a long time,
like a saying that I finally understood,
like the pitcher I use every day,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship that took me safely 
through the wildest storm of all. 

  • Rainer Maria Rilke

What Is God Feeling?
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Today, let’s take some time to listen to God, working on the UP connection of our faith. Take a few deep breaths. Be aware of your body. And now take a few moments and look over the psalm below and ask yourself two questions, paying close attention to what gets stirred up inside you as you answer them. Talk with God about what comes up for you.

  1. What is God feeling?

  2. What does God desire?

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.

Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.

If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

  • Psalm 81:8-13, 16 

Jesus at the Margins

Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel.
Should you not embrace justice? - Micah 3:1

In the Gospels, dozens of times Jesus starts or ends his messages in the command to listen. He’s picking up a them from the Old Testament, which also commands us to listen over and over again.

One of the things that the scriptures call us to listen to is the voice of those who are on the margins (for example, “Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered” -Proverbs 21:13). As we’ve talked about in recent weeks, Jesus himself did not identify with the power centers of his world, but instead moved towards the margins where the people with power pushed those without. We’ve drawn it something like this:

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In the scripture for today, the prophet Micah connects listening to justice, pushing for those with privilege and power to move towards the margins themselves, valuing those who are not at the center of power.

Have you sensed God’s call in your life to do justice - and if so, think back to how you heard God’s call and what you did with it? In these days, giventhe political and social culture of 2019, what might it look like for you to head towards the margins with Jesus, seeking justice for those who are there? And what affirmations might Jesus be seeking to give you should you already identify as being on the margins, having been pushed there by those with privilege and power?

Don't Be a Mule

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. - Psalm 32:9

This past Sunday we talked about how badly Jesus wants us to listen to him. And yet, so often we refuse. Sometimes, we may say we want to hear from God, but what we really want is for God to be so clear about everything that it takes away all our options. That approach is not what God is after - God would prefer a relationship, a back and forth connection with us where not everything has to be force-fed to us.

In the verse above, God is lamenting that the people won’t make space in their lives to slow down and listen, to face the hard parts of life with God instead of trying to white-knuckle their way through it alone. It’s like we force God’s hand, requiring God to treat us like a horse that has to have it’s head turned by the reins because it won't go where its rider is trying to direct it.

In the Development Square (below) this often looks like trying to set up house in D1 instead of being willing to let Jesus take us around the square into a maturing relationship. So many times we resist because D2 (the phase of discouragement and hardship) naturally falls after D1 - so we pout and refuse to move forward, even though there’s no other way to truly grow.

Where are you resistant to change? Where are you forcing God’s hand to treat you like a horse with a bridle, instead of willingly trusting God’s lead? Talk with Jesus about these things.

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Are We Listening?

While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it. - Luke 9:43-45

Jesus addresses these words to his disciples - the ones who were committed to learning from him (for example, like the kind of people who would read a daily devotional). And he starts with “Listen carefully…” which in the original Greek means “to lean in.” And yet, what do those devotional-reading students of Jesus do? They lean away! They don’t understand, they don’t ask, they stay safe from the words of Jesus.

In part that’s because Jesus’s words are so threatening to our status quo. Of course we say we want to hear from Jesus, but do we really? What if Jesus called us to change how we handle our money? What if he challenged who we spend time with? What if he invited us to forgive people we have no interest in forgiving? What if he calls us to sacrifice our comfort?

Take a moment today and face your fears about actually hearing from Jesus - what is it that resists hearing from him?

Ask Jesus if there’s a kairos for you around how you listen to him, and then take that kairos around the learning circle and see if you can get to an appropriate response.

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No Longer an Option
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We began the week with a story about Jesus, who came down from a mountain to be with a crazy diverse, messy group of people, right on their level, right in their midst.

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.” - Luke 6:17-19

How do we become that kind of person, like Jesus in his radical “be-with-ness”? And how will these kinds of interactions and relationships (what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community”) change us? Consider this example of a kairos moment, of non-anxiously and non-defensively hearing and responding to Jesus’ call toward wholeness:

“Then, as we pulled into a parking lot to break for lunch [in the midst of a sankofa, an intentional engagement with cultural history], another white student stood to speak. But instead of a different variation on “Please don’t make me responsible for this,” she took a deep breath and gave in to the emotion of it all. “I don’t know what to do with what I’ve learned,” she said. “I can’t fix your pain, and I can’t take it away, but I can see it. And I can work for the rest of my life to make sure your children don’t have to experience the pain of racism.” And then she said nine words that I’ve never forgotten: “Doing nothing is no longer an option for me.”
― Austin Channing Brown, I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

I can see (recognize, reflect)… I can work (respond)… What kairos moments have you experienced this week around race? Are you open to more - what spaces of toughening or tenderizing do you notice within yourself? If doing nothing were no longer an option for you, what resources or abilities, however large or small, might God nudge you to contribute toward reconciliation in your sphere of influence? Talk with Jesus honestly about these things for a few minutes.

Set Us Free
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Today we’re going to go through the 5 movements of the Lord’s Prayer again (Premise, Priorities, Provision, Peacemaking and Protection), this time spending extra time on Peacemaking, particularly as it applies to racism and the horrific damage it’s done to our society and to the humanity of each of us. (Yes, including those of us who are white; many leaders toward reconciliation describe being part of a racist society as “moral trauma” for the white person, a scarring of the soul.)

What does it mean to seek forgiveness? What does it mean to truly forgive? Mull over the words below before you move into the Lord’s Prayer. (Though black Americans are explicitly named in the first passage, its message could include all people of color.)

“True forgiveness frees the offended from the bondage of bitterness and revenge. True repentance frees the offender from the bondage of pride, lack of empathy, and apathy. If White Christians truly felt the pain of black Americans, when times of cruelty, injustice and violence occur, immediate and contrived forgiveness rituals would never suffice.... 

Black Christians biblically forgive by viewing our legitimate hurts, frustrations, and anger through a redemptive lens that proclaims, “I will renounce my right to get revenge for all the ways that this present kingdom has broken my heart. I will also believe Jesus’ words that the kingdom of God is indeed at hand. This means that I will pray with my heart and work tirelessly with my hands and feet to see signposts of how the perfectly restored coming kingdom invades the broken, exploitative, and racist kingdom of this world.” (Darryl Ford, Forgiveness is Not Passivity, Repentance Project, 2017

Now this…

The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. (The Message) 

How do you sense God speaking to you as the offender and/or the offended? Bring this awareness into your praying as Jesus taught us:

Our Father in Heaven, holy is your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. AMEN.

Haunting & Holy
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Confessing our personal sins, our brokenness, takes faith - we have to genuinely believe that we are loved in the midst of our mess (the connection axis), and that honest confrontation with who we are is the only way to growth and healing (the challenge axis).

And we are more than just individuals. We’re communal beings, and our communities have histories and sins that need loving confrontation as well. The prophet Jeremiah records this example for us - notice words like “our,” “us” and “ancestors.”

“From our youth shameful gods have consumed
the fruits of our ancestors’ labor—
their flocks and herds,
their sons and daughters.
Let us lie down in our shame,
and let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors;
from our youth till this day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”

- Jer. 3:24-25

What would making this kind of confession look like for us? What would it require? Author Austin Channing Brown, in her thoughtful and illuminating memoir I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, argues:

“Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort. It's not a comfortable conversation for any of us. It is risky and messy. It is haunting work to recall the sins of our past. But is this not the work we have been called to anyway? Is this not the work of the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth and inspire transformation? It's haunting. But it's also holy.”

Would you take a few minutes today to allow yourself to be curious and uncomfortable about the origins of our racism in America? Choose one of the three options below to learn a little about our ancestors and then with that story in mind, pray Jeremiah’s confession above aloud, ending with the words, “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.” Know that many in the City Church family are praying along with you today - this is truly OUR prayer.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Will We Be Satisfied
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The prayer Jesus taught us to pray begins with Premise & Priorities, “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name - your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” As an opening, it’s both heartbreaking and hopeful, an invitation to lament, to be honest and deeply sad as we admit how wide the gap is between how things are in our world and how they are ultimately meant to be.

How things are ultimately meant to be… God speaks to Abraham toward the beginning of the human story, promising, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you… and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:1-3) And God gives John this vision of the promise fulfilled: “before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,” different but not divided, gathered together around Jesus (Rev. 7:9).

How things actually are… African theologian Emmanuel Katongole, reflecting on faith after the Rwandan genocide, writes:

“How long, O God, will we go on with a mock Christianity that takes the tribalism of our world for granted?
How long, O God, will we be satisfied with the way things are?
How long, O God, will we try to "make some difference in the world" while leaving the basic patterns of the world unaffected?
How long, O God will we take consolation in numbers, buildings, and structures, when millions of your children are dying?
How long, O Sovereign Lord, will we remain blind to the lessons of history?”

As you pray the five movements of the Lord’s Prayer this morning (Premise, Priorities, Provision, Peacemaking and Protection) , would you spend a few extra minutes acknowledging God’s priorities and allowing yourself to grieve and not be satisfied? Perhaps you’d even like to put your own prayer of lament into writing.

Our Father in Heaven, holy is your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. AMEN.

The Home Depot Parking Lot
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We're going to accept Pastor Larry Dove's invitation from Sunday and spend some time this morning prayerfully imagining the crowd gathered around Jesus in the small but packed scene below. It's a beautiful illustration of how Jesus centers the margins - how he creates welcome in the wilderness, inviting people who don't seem to belong together into "beloved community," if only they're willing to move away from the illusions of safety and control other centers of power seem to offer.

We'll read the passage three times, taking a few minutes each time to sit quietly with Jesus and use all of our senses to imaginatively enter the story:

- Reading #1: Imagine this scene in its actual Middle Eastern setting.  Wander in your mind from group to group and picture actual faces and actual needs for healing.  What do you see, hear, smell, feel?

- Reading #2: Now do the same thing, but move the scene into the here and now, in the Home Depot parking lot on Cherry, after Jesus and his disciples have come down from Signal Hill.  Who's gathered around Jesus now?

- Reading #3:  Where are you in the crowd? How do you feel about being there with all these people?  What are you bringing to Jesus for healing, and how does his energy meet you?

"Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem [the traditional religious types], and even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon ["different" people, "not from around here"]. They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments [so sick and differently abled people were gathered, too]. Those disturbed by evil spirits [perhaps mentally ill or spiritually unsettled] were healed. Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed!" - Luke 6:17-19 (The Message)

Spend a final minute or two talking with Jesus about what you experienced; release yourself into his love.

Comfort in Affliction, Affliction in Comfort

All week we’ve been thinking about how to live out both grace and truth, care and challenge. The best way to do that is to “Imitate God” (Ephesians 5:1) who is the master. Let this poem remind you of how God does this in your life…


God says:

I am covenanted,
committed forever to love you;
to do whatever is best for you.

I will be kind, encouraging and
enabling, but I will also be challenging.
At times I will come to comfort you
in your affliction. At other times,
I will come to afflict you in your comfort…

Whatever I do, it will always be
an act of love and
an invitation to growth.

I will be with you
to illuminate your darkness,
to strengthen your weakness,
to fill your emptiness,
to heal your brokenness,
to cure your sickness,
to straighten what may be bent in you,
and to revive whatever good things may have died in you.

Remain united to me, accept my love,
enjoy the warmth of my friendship,
avail yourself of my power,
and you will bear much fruit.
You will have life in all its fullness.

  • John Powell, Fully Human, Fully Alive

Truth Bombs

Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. - Ephesians 4:24-26

The Holy Spirit inspired these lines because God knew we all struggle with throwing truth bombs. A truth bomb is when we finally decide to tell someone the truth. The anger has been building up to the point where we finally justify blasting them, and we say, “Well, let me be honest with you.” But what we mean is, “Let me vent my anger on you.”

Truth spoken in anger is rarely from God. Usually it’s a result of us not doing the hard work of having healthy conflict earlier in our relationship (see the Connection/Challenge Matrix below and ask yourself if you’ve been living in the ‘Cozy’ quadrant).

Maybe today is the day to start “Putting off falsehood” (as Ephesians 4 says) and to start speaking truth to your self, your friends, and your family so that anger doesn’t build up and you don’t explode on them! Speaking truth, even in small and relational ways, can be a very powerful step towards putting on your new self in Christ. Talk with Jesus about how to do that today.

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Grace and Truth

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

When Jesus showed up, he was full of both grace AND truth. The two go together. At City Church we talk a lot about the Connection/Challenge Matrix (below), which has also been described as the Radical Candor Grid. If you imagine the connection axis as grace and the challenge axis as truth, you can see that Jesus leads us to the ‘GROWTH’ quadrant.

It’s so easy for us to not speak truth to people - and we end up in cozy relationships where people don’t grow. Or to neither speak truth nor give grace - and then there’s no relationship at all! - it’s just boring or dying. Or we give lots of truth but not enough grace and all they feel from us is stress. And it’s not just how we give out grace and truth - it’s how we receive them, because each of us is on that side of this equation, too.

So take some time today and ask God to bring to mind a relationship or two that needs some work moving into the ‘growth’ quadrant. Ask the Spirit to guide you as to how you might get there, how you might be able to give more grace or speak more truth (or receive more of those things). And take a few minutes to sit in quiet before God, allowing that process to begin.

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Come To Jesus Moments

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” - Luke 9:57-62

Jesus is not afraid to say some really, really direct things about the cost of following him! If we don’t read them in context, they can sound downright harsh. But given the fact that he’s just been coaching his followers on how to find and hold on to true life, these sayings take on a different shade of meaning. Jesus isn’t willy-nilly telling people that homes, traditions, or families don’t matter (because surely they do) - but he’s giving them a particular chance to connect with him in his earthly ministry and few would ever get that opportunity to experience that kind of fullness of life.

Have you experienced God speaking into your life with that kind of radical candor before? Think over your life back to moments when you had a face-to-face encounter with the truth. There’s even a phrase for it in our culture at large: ‘come-to-Jesus-moments.’ That’s because Jesus often reveals things about ourselves or our calling or destiny that are really hard to face (like the people he was talking to in the passage above) but that make a huge difference in our lives.

As you recall those turning point moments, they may not have felt like the hand of God, but ask yourself if God might have been in them somewhere. Take one in particular and look for the kairos in it and take it around the Learning Circle (below).

Walk one of those Kairos ‘come-to-Jesus’ moments around the Learning Circle right now, asking God for a new layer of meaning from the radical candor that was brought to you in that moment.

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Radical Candor

Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. - Ephesians 4:15

In the message yesterday we revisited an old City Church shape - the Connection/Challenge matrix. Brenna Rubio borrowed the phrase ‘radical candor’ to talk about the quadrant where you really grow - where there’s both deep care and real challenge. Too often in church circles we settle for niceness (the upper left quadrant) - which is definitely NOT a Christian virtue (nowhere is it listed as such in the Bible). Or we get stuck in unhealthy/judgy/demanding churches (bottom right quadrant).

But the question for you today is what is the next step for you to grow? What is the Spirit of God impressing on you about how you need to either give or receive radical candor? What relationship is standing out most? There will be more space and time to think on these things this week but start asking God these questions now, and be listening for the answers.

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God's Faithful Love

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. - Isaiah 54:10

While there is a lot in our world and in our religion that changes and shifts over time, there are some things that stay the same. God’s faithful love is one of them. God’s faithful love remains constant even while we may grow and change in our understanding of that love and our ability to receive it and our appreciation of it.

Today, take some time to rest in God’s love in a way that’s appropriate to your season of life. Maybe that means memorizing that verse or writing it down and posting on your car dashboard today to remind yourself of it. Maybe it means listening to a song that makes you think of it. Maybe it means taking a walk or doing a breathing exercise (“Bless me” on the in breath and “Send me” on the out breath, for example) or whatever it may look like for you to rest in God’s faithful love.

What would that look like for you right now?

When Theology Changes

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

In the first century, food was a big deal and had a lot of moral implications. If you track the early Christian approach to the morality of eating different kinds of food, you can see how it is approached differently across different continents and decades.

  1. Jesus declares all food clean (Galilean countryside, AD 32) - Mark 7:19

  2. Jerusalem Council declares some food unclean (Jerusalem, AD 49) - Acts 15:29

  3. Paul declares all food clean (Greece and Rome, AD 57) - 1 Cor 10:27

  4. The Spirit reveals some food unclean (central Turkey, AD 90) - Rev 2:14

It may feel unnerving for those of us who like a neat and clean “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” approach to scripture rather than a more progressive revelation that fits the various cultures we find ourselves in. In the Web of Belief approach of City Church (see What Doesn’t Change) we recognize that some things are more central in the web and some things are less important. In the first century, what food we eat was in the outer rung of the web. So it was okay that one of the strands of the web got cut out or reattached in a different spot. Some people call this “deconstruction.” If you look in nature, you’ll see how a spider web can handle plenty of small adaptations to its web and still serve its function (see picture at bottom). It’s the same with our faith. As long as we keep the central thing the central thing (living for God, through Christ), then we’ll be ok.

Take some time to reflect on the imperfect spider web below and on the scripture verse for today, asking God to show you how your faith has already and can be again adapted in healthy ways while maintaining its center on Christ.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

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What Doesn't Change

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8

Jesus stays the same, but there’s a lot else that changes. That’s one of the reasons why City Church has found the Web of Belief a helpful image.

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In the Web of Belief, there are some things that are more central than others - like Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. He’s right there in the center. And there are things on the outside of the web, like your particular approach to baptism or end times theology or worship styles that just are not as important. Some of those things are preferences and some are convictions, but none match the centrality of Christ.

Tomorrow we’re going to look at how theology and morality shifted throughout the New Testament, which can be a scary concept for some. The only way to embrace the journey of looking honestly at those sorts of changes in the Bible, and at all the other things that change in our world, is to focus again on what doesn’t. His name is Jesus, and he’s amazing.

Take a few moments right now and read that verse over a few times, meditating on it and letting it speak to you, comfort you, challenge you, and direct you this day…

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8

Those You Disagree With

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. - Romans 14:1-3

Few Christians today think much about whether the food we eat has moral implications (although some may choose not to eat beef as a way to be better stewards of the earth). In the first century, urban butcher shops were located in temples. It was so convenient that way since all the meat was offered to the idols before being sold. Because of the prohibitions on idolatry in the scriptures, many Christians didn’t eat meat in cities like Rome.

Paul said these Christians had ‘weak faith’ in the sense that it limited their choice of food, whereas others (himself included) felt the freedom to eat whatever food he wanted, knowing that God had made it all and that idols were nothing. The key issue here is that real Christians differed over this important matter.

Today there are a lot of issues that Christians disagree about. But what is important is HOW Paul handled the differences. Note the word “accept.” How do you feel about Paul saying we are called to “accept” those you disagree with “for God has accepted them”? That’s probably not easy, especially when it’s an issue that seems really important to you.

Take some time today and ask for the grace to accept people the way God accepts people (focusing especially on how God accepts you).

What's at the Center?

 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

          “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:38-42

The culture, and everything within her own experience, expected Martha to cook and serve the meal for Jesus and the other (male) followers of Jesus. It was the only way to think of things. And yet Jesus challenged that thinking. He still does.

Some things are “better,” according to Jesus. Not that cooking and serving are bad. But learning the ways of Jesus are better, more permanent, and lead to more flourishing. They are more central to the true life that Jesus came to bring, and Jesus invited not just Mary, but Martha into that deep life.

When it comes to our theology as a church, City Church has a shape that captures what it means to be centered on Jesus - it’s a web (below). If you’d like to read more about it, there’s a statement on our webpage here. Regardless of whether you read that link or not, take some time today to ask yourself:

  • Do you know what’s essential to your theology and what’s non-essential?

  • What’s a product of your culture? (and is it possible to have theology that’s not affected by culture?)

  • How do you discern what’s central to your theology and what’s not central?

  • Where is Jesus in your theology? Where do you think he’d like to be? What impact might that have on your lived life?

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