Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Living Beyond Myself...Week 1

We have started a new series at church. I wonder if each month will conveniently have its own susinct message (Jan had a 5 week series, this is a 4 week series...so far so good!). Perhaps I'll mention it to Jeff. Without further ado, notes from Sunday's message are below.

The Great Gamble

We all have something inside ourselves that hungers for greatness.

Sepphoris: city in Galilee where people sought wealth, fame, material possessions (makes me think of Dubai).

Matthew 5:13a,14,16
>The city community Jesus was going to build.

John 3:30 "He must become greater; I must become less."

Matthew 20:25-28
Washing feet was such a menial task that even Jewish slaves did not do it. Gentile slaves were given this job.

John 13:4-5;15
Greatness in God's eyes is different from greatness in the world's eyes.

M. Scott Peck quote: Until that moment the whole point of things had been for someone to get on top, and once he had gotten on top to stay on top or else attempt to get farther up. But here this man already on top - who was rabbi, teacher, master - suddenly got down on the bottom and began to wash the feet of his followers. In that one act Jesus symbolically overturned the whole social order."

Acts of kindness, service in love - to be the defining qualitie of Jesus' followers (his community/city)

John 13:14-17
>If it is not too lowly for me (Jesus), it's not to lowly for you (follower).

Acts of service don't have to be huge or spectacular. It can be as "small" as letting someone else go first.

Do you really believe that greatness is defined by service?

Challenge: Do one of two things over the next several months: 1)Live for God's purpose and other people's needs, or 2)Live for yourself and your own needs and purposes. Do it long enough to see its effects and determine whether your life feels fuller or emptier.

Are you going to choose to live FOR or BEYOND yourself?

Frederick Buechner: The life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself, and only a life given away for love's sake is a life worth living.

My thoughts: I really liked the reminder that service doesn't have to be a big weekend project or something that requires traveling to a nonprofit organization to do. Service can be emptying the dishwasher or picking up a piece of trash you come across. Sometimes I don't think about such mundane things as being service, but they are. I am choosing to do these things so that someone else doesn't have to or to serve the better good.
I was trying to figure out where I struggle the most with serving and/or acts of kindness. I realized that I hesitate most when it involves money. Not necessarily giving to an organization, but participating in something that will require me to provide resources for something. For example, I found a Bible study that I think would benefit my friend (and myself) but of course I have to purchase the workbooks. It isn't super expensive, but I noticed that I paused before following through. I know that God has placed me in this person's life to provide encouragement during a difficult season. I know that God has provided us with the ability to purchase nonnecessities. Why do I hesitate to do something for Him (help another) with something that is His (our money)? So that's sort of my challenge to myself - not to avoid opportunities to bless others just because money is involved.
I was a little amused when Jeff offered us both sides of the challenge - to serve others OR ourselves. It sounds kind of absurd to live for ourselves (Do what you want to do. Don't offer to help others. Make sure you get what you need. Don't consider others' needs.) but I know that I am guilty of that at times. I just don't think about how silly and selfish and un-Jesus-like it is. I do wonder if anyone will test out this side. I'm just thankful for the reminder that I can serve in little ways every day. Perhaps it will even help make mundane tasks like cleaning less...mundane. Looking for small ways to serve has already shown me that there's always something that can be done. It has also showed me how I have chosen to be selfish in the past (ouch).

What do you get out of the challenge? Do you feel like you are good at serving and doing acts of kindness every day?

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