Reflections for the Week of October 2, 2016 Twentieth after Pentecost

Gospel: Luke 17.5-10. This text talks about faith which is powerful even though it is as minute as a mustard seed, and about our relation to Christ being like a slave. Given the fact that we are all disciples, i.e., “learners” whose teacher is Christ, what do these teachings mean? Jesus tells His disciples that “faith as a mustard seed” will enable you to do virtually impossible things. Faith is the sine qua non–the necessary condition–for Christianity (from the human side). The Christian must have faith in Christ to be a Christian. But it is Christ rather than the faith that confers the power. It is not our belief, but what (or Whom) our belief is in that is important. Therefore it is not the amount of our faith that is critical: it is the object of our faith. We might inquire at this point: what is faith? It is more than belief. It is said that even the demons believe–and tremble! (Jas. 2.19). It is the nature of our belief; the fact that our belief means that we turn over to Him the will and the accomplishment of our lives. It means that our belief means trust in Christ that He is able to fulfill His promises to us. It means that we accept that His will is best, that we commit ourselves to submitting to His will, and trusting that the outcome of His will is what is best for us. How do we know His will? Through Scripture and prayer, and daily circumstances, and community with other Christians. We know His will by being intentionally open to it, by seeking it, and being alert to finding it in our daily circumstances and conforming our lives to what Scripture tells us is His will. If Scripture is not explicit in a situation, then we apply the Golden Rule: we put ourselves in place of others in the situation and ask what we would want in their circumstances and what would glorify God?

The second part of the text is about servants or slaves. The difference is that servants only work part time, while slaves are full time, and servants are paid while slaves are not. We are really slaves of Christ; our commitment is full time and we don’t receive pay. The great requirement is submission to Him. We obey His will rather than our own. Our motivation is to please Him and glorify Him in everything we do, rather than our selves. Our problem is we are too full of ourselves. It is His will we obey, not our own. When the slave’s work is done, he is to serve the Master at table. The Master does not thank the slave–he has just done what is expected of him. Having done our duty, we cannot claim anything from the Master. Scripture portrays mankind in general as rebellious, seeking their own way, doing their own thing, being hard-hearted and stiff-necked. We tend to want independence, to want to do things our way. We don’t think anyone has the right to tell us what to do. But Christ in Scripture tells us just the opposite. We are to seek His will, to please Him, to be meek, humble, obedient, submissive. In order to be that way, the way He wants us to be, we need to die to ourself. It means to give up our human nature and take on Christ’s nature. It is not difficult. It is impossible! We of ourselves can not do it. We need the Holy Spirit and His power to do these things. But if we ask, we will receive (Mt. 7.7-11). To ask means to turn to Him in faith and repentance, confessing our inability and trusting Him for the power we need. He promised to be with us and that He will never leave us nor forsake us and that He and the Father will make their home in us (Jn 14.23). We must decrease and the Spirit must increase until we are filled with the Spirit.

Memory Verse: …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind. and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4.22-24).

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