The Mustard Seed
Becoming Jesus' DiscipleSince the days I left my small hometown to go to college and then to work, I have always lived in or near big cities -- Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, Dallas, and now Washington, DC. My training and my work have taken me into hospitals that serve those communities. I have noticed that many of those hospitals have names that reflect the religious faith of the people who established them. Some hospitals have the names of their church denominations (Presbyterian; Lutheran). Some hospitals are named after people in the Bible (St. Luke, St. Joseph, St. Jude, Good Samaritan), or places in the Bible (Mt. Sinai, Bethesda). Here in the DC area we have Catholic hospitals (Holy Cross and Georgetown University) and a couple Seventh-day Adventist hospitals. Why?
Many of these religiously-based hospitals began over a century ago as hospices or nursing homes, where soldiers with debilitating war injuries or people that had terminal illnesses could receive compassionate care. Caregivers were Catholic nuns and Protestant deaconesses who were motivated by God's call to serve the community. Eventually, as medical science improved, doctors played a more active role in the care team, and these convalescent homes transformed into high-tech places for healing.
This is no accident. As God transforms our hearts, He gives us a love for people that responds to their needs -- physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Jesus taught this to His Twelve Disciples in practical ways.
One of the texts we are studying in this series on discipleship is Mark 6. Read it again:
He called His twelve followers together and got ready to send them out two by two... So the followers went out and preached that people should change their hearts and lives. They forced many demons out and put olive oil on many sick people and healed them. (Mark 7:7,12,13 NCV)
Notice that Jesus sent His Disciples out not merely to preach and teach, but to help and to heal. Then later in that same chapter we read how Jesus tried to get away to be alone for a while, but a huge crowd of people followed Him. He felt sorry for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach.
Late in the afternoon, His Disciples became concerned. They asked Jesus, "Send the people away so they can go to the countryside and towns around here to buy themselves something to eat."
But Jesus answered, "You give them something to eat." (Mark 6:30-37)
Last month in this series we saw that disciples of Jesus are noted by both what we believe and what we do. Our actions cannot make us holy, but God in us moves us to holy action. The Bible says:
You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NCV)
Disciples of Jesus love and serve other people in need. But, sadly, even we Christians often give into selfishness. Our Lord's brother, James, scolded fellow believers when he wrote:
My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people claim they have faith but don’t act like it? Can that kind of faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister has no clothes or food. Suppose one of you says to them, "Go. I hope everything turns out fine for you. Keep warm. Eat well." And you do nothing about what they really need. Then what good have you done? It is the same with faith. If it doesn’t cause us to do something, it’s dead. (James 2:14-17 NCV)
When we see a friend or family member in need, we don't think twice about helping. (We may help too much -- enabling dependency rather than challenging personal growth.) What is difficult is knowing how to respond to needs of strangers that catch us by surprise. Two things help here. First, pray for God's discernment and wisdom. Second, prepare a plan that can help you discern true needs from scams, and a plan to genuinely help those with genuine needs. It is best to work with others as a team, so you can share experience, wisdom, and resources.
To view live Signed Sunday morning worship, click here
You are invited to Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf in Silver Spring
a couple blocks south of the Metro Red Line Forest Glen Station
Sunday Worship: 9:30AM
Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings
in Ely 118.
Drop in and introduce yourself!!
Pastor Ron Friedrich