This is week three of our series called; “What do you want?” It is the question Jesus asks Bartimaeus who is blind and seeking Jesus’ assistance. It is also a question Jesus asks all of us. What do we want? In previous you were challenged to take time to reflect on what it is you want and to focus on what you might have heard in a previous reflections. God, the creator of the universe stands ready to answer your response. So what do you want?
Our first week we looked at this question, what do we want? We determined we were not made to be alone, in fact we decided we need to be together, we need one another, we need each other. We all come from the same origin, we are of the same flesh, we are united as one in marriage, we are consecrated by Jesus as one vast community, we are saved as one with our Savior, and we are many moving toward the glory Jesus provides. Although we are unique individuals, we are one, originally one, saved as one, and end up together. We cannot be alone. One thing we want is others in our life.
Last week looking at the same questions we noticed through the readings that God really wants the best life for us. God wants us to have the best life possible and to be completely happy. We discover through wisdom of God, the word of God and by divesting of the things that can distract us from what is really important, that we want the best life. The things of the world, being a success at all cost, having the next best toy, generally trying to get satisfied by things is not what will make us happy, happiness comes from a who not a what. We must make room for relationships if we are to live a happy life.
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary time; We begin with; Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalms 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; Hebrews 4:14-16 and Mark 10:35-45. As we look at the question to each of us, what do we want, the readings show that God knows what we need and is already answering the question. We have discovered God does not want us to be alone and that God wants the best life for us, to be happy. This week we learn God understands our value and wants us to know how valuable we are to him.
In the reading from Isaiah we hear of a suffering servant who gives his life as an offering so that many may be justified. The servant accomplishes much, including the plan of God by his offering. The guilt of many are taken by the servant and many are acquitted and graced to be available for blessing and the Kingdom. Many say the servant could be Jesus and the offering made is the cross which acquits all of sin, fulfilling the plan of God. Jesus is the Son of God, the first born, the name bearer. That God would enlist Jesus as an offering speaks to how valuable God believes we all are to Him. If God thinks we are so valuable that his only Son would die to save us, we must accept our own value as well.
The reading from Hebrews speaks of a great high priest, one who offers sacrifice on behalf of the people. This high priest is named Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus became like us, understanding our weaknesses and lives to model kingdom values for each of us. We are to approach the throne and receive grace through the mercy of God. We all depend on the breath of God to accomplish anything. This dependence begins with the sacrifice of the high priest. Jesus has passed through heaven and returned so that we may know the journey, so we may know how much God thinks of us. We must never forget our value to a God who stoops down to lift is up.Jesus has passed through heaven and returned so that we may know the journey, so we may know how much God thinks of us. We must never forget our value to a God who stoops down to lift is up. Click To Tweet
In the reading from Mark we hear a couple of Jesus apostles asking if they can be seated next to Jesus on the throne in heaven. They believe this to be glory. Jesus speaks about the suffering he will receive and asks if they can bear what he is to bear. They are blinded by ambition and say yes we can. Jesus cannot give the glory they want and challenges them to stop thinking like non followers, it is the Gentile who want riches. Rather as followers they should aspire to be last, because this is what Jesus has done. Jesus came to serve all and give all life eternal. It is not the one stepping over others to climb to the pinnacle of success who is most valuable, rather it is the one who because servant of all who is valuable in the eyes of Jesus. Serving is everything, putting others first, and being like Jesus who wants to give his life for many.
In the context of our theme; what do we want? the readings this week give us an answer to the question from God’s perspective; God wants us to know we are valuable. God sends his Son to sacrifice and suffer for each of us. This is God’s demonstration of our value. Once we recognize the value God places on us, we are encouraged to turn and serve, to use our value to lift up another and demonstrate to them they too are valuable. How valuable? God tells us by stretching out his arms and dying and we may know there is nothing more valuable than us. If God thinks we are so valuable, then we must convince ourselves of our value. Serving others is God’s way of speaking into the importance of our life and it shows our Godly worth. We are God’s instrument to do the same to one another, speak to others of their value and God’s desire for them. Nothing is more valuable then who we are to God.
A valuable life
How do we measure the value of a life? One way to look at answering this question is by looking at what people say about a person at their funeral. Recently Senator John McCain passed away before many who loved him would have hoped. While his family had many nice things to say about him, Senator McCain chose two opponents to speak eulogies on his behalf; President George Bush who Senator McCain ran against for the Presidential Nomination and President Barack Obama who Senator McCain ran against for the Presidency. Both men were honored to speak for Senator McCain and both said many nice things about Senator McCain. A theme we can infer about Senator McCain from these two men; Senator McCain lived a valuable life. What were some of the things said; he was honest, he listened, he was courageous, he was principled, he loved and treated people fairly, he had a temper yes, but he forgave too. A large part of what made his life impressive to these men, in fact to many of us, is his ability to give a life of service, he was more about the other than himself. There were times when it might have been more personally beneficial to say what was politically correct but in fact he was a man who took honor seriously and would rather speak the truth. He was a person who lived for something bigger than personal gain, he put the greater good above even himself. He was a man who gave more than he took.
In my own life some of the best memories, the times when I felt most valuable, were when I was doing for someone else. I have volunteered in places that feed the hungry. Whenever I leave one of these places I leave exhausted, with nothing more to give, but also energized, feeling as if I had done something important. Each week I go to a kitchen and cook a meal for people who are in need. I wake in the morning saying to myself wouldn’t it be nice to just stay in bed, yet out of obligation I get up and go. The work does not take much time and I really do don’t anything heroic, but I always leave so glad I was there, feeling as if I had spent my morning in the best way possible. People will ask why I do it. I don’t get paid, no one really knows what I am doing, I am in the kitchen so the people being served aren’t even aware nor do they care about my contribution and honestly anyone could do what I am doing, I have no special skills for it. The answer I conclude is it in some part makes me feel better about who I am, I feel more valuable.
How do we measure the value of a life? @Andy_Stanley answers the question, the value of a life is always measured by how much of it you’ve given away. Pouring out of a life into another is what fills a person up.How do we measure the value of a life? @Andy_Stanley answers the question, the value of a life is always measured by how much of it you’ve given away. Pouring out of a life into another is what fills a person up. Click To Tweet
Looking at the readings we see this truth. In Isaiah we see a suffering servant offering his life for the life of many. In the reading from Hebrews we have a high priest who came from the heavens, giving up all they were to sacrifice and serve others. The message in Mark from Jesus; in order to be first we must be slave to all. The value of a life is measured by how much we give of ourselves for the other. The readings also tell us that God believes our lives are so valuable that he gives all to save us. God suffers for our salvation. God sacrifices for our grace. God serves of the ransom of many. God will do anything to let us know our lives are valuable and he wants to save us.
Fruit of the Spirit
What traits do we need to live a valuable life? In the Book of Galatians (5:22) there is a verse that Paul refers to as the fruit of the Spirit. In other words if we let our lives be led by the Spirit of God we can receive and use certain fruits or traits. The traits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If we live these fruits than no law is needed. If we have a family or community that live out all these traits there would be no reason to ever make a rules or laws, people would be selfless and never want to do anything to offend or disparage another. The challenge for us is to be able to take in these traits and make them a part of who we are, part of what we do every day.
Let’s look at the fruits a little deeper: Love is not a choice it is a deliberate expression seeking the best welfare of another. To love someone is to never want to hurt them but in fact to only want their good. Christian love is to be lived for every one not just some one. Joy is a feeling of gladness no matter the circumstance or experience we may be living. To approach everything with joy, good or bad because we know through God all will be good and what God gives us we joyfully accept even if only for growth. Joy does not come from earthly things, it comes from God. Peace putting all our fears and worries in the one who is peace. It is a tranquility that comes from knowing all our life is in the hands of God and constantly being aware of this truth. Patience is putting up with circumstances and people lovingly and forgivingly even when we are tired. It is reproducing an attitude of God toward others, seeing them as God seems them and being only good toward them. Kindness is a generosity toward others, being nice for no other reason than you are a child of God and so is the person you are being nice too. Goodness is much like kindness. A person who is good does what is best for all, it may come with a certain truth, but is delivered with love. The way we act toward others should show our goodness. Faithfulness is a fruit that speaks about fidelity, someone who is reliable, can be counted on, a person of their word, or more appropriately a person of God’s word. A Christian who is faithful is always obedient to the word of God. Gentleness is a fruit that helps a person be accepting of God’s will, open to learning (not, I am right, rather, I can see your point of view) and considerate (wanting to consider the other persons participation or feelings.) All pertaining to an openness to the other. Self-Control is having a discipline or self-mastery over the desires of love for pleasure. It is a fruit that proclaims a discipline over one’s own body or desires.
Each of these fruits, look outward, they are giving, they are fruits that put others first and giving of ourselves so that the other may receive. Each of these fruits are evident in the life of Jesus who did all and gave all for each of us. Jesus poured out his life so that we may have life. Working to master the fruits of the Spirit allows us to live a selfless life, which defines our life as valuable. A valuable life is a life that is fulfilling and happy.Jesus poured out his life so that we may have life. Working to master the fruits of the Spirit allows us to live a selfless life, which defines our life as valuable. A valuable life is a life that is fulfilling and happy. Click To Tweet
What do you want?
We see in the readings this week that God suffers, sacrifices and serves to call our life valuable. God does all he can to give an example that shows us how to live valuable lives. It relates closely to what we have seen over the past two weeks. For our life to be valuable it must have value for someone else. Wanting our best life, including happiness we must feel we are valuable. We can only be valuable when we give selflessly and generously.
What do we want? We should continue to reflect on this question. God wants to know our answer. But God also knows what we need. From the beginning God knew we didn’t want to be alone and so God created companions. God also knows we want to live a good life, the best life, a happy life. So God gives us wisdom, a living word and encourages divesting of what we own to remove distractions. If we follow a set of traits that give life principle, purpose, a spirit of being prolific, people in our life and peace. The best life has God at the center knowing God is our number one partner in having the best life. God also knows we want to live a life that is valuable. A valuable life will make us happy and will be fulfilling. We can work on being valuable through the fruit of the Spirit. We find out best life when we pour out what we have for some body else.God knows we want to live a life that is valuable. A valuable life will make us happy and will be fulfilling. We can work on being valuable through the fruit of the Spirit. We find out best life when we pour out what we have for some… Click To Tweet
Next week we’ll finish the series, What do you want by getting to the question we asked all along, the question Jesus ask Bartimaeus, and we will focus on his answer; I want to see.