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Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

What Kind of Priest?

February 21st, 2011

1 Samuel 2:11-36

  • The 2 sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were not pleasant people – the Bible calls them ‘worthless men’, even like sons of a demon, with nothing redeeming about them.
  • We evaluate people all the time – we work out the value of others and encourage each other to evaluate others, even from a young age.
  • But we react saying that no one can evaluate us – we are our own judge. This kind of attitude is applauded in our culture – that we should only have to answer to ourselves. But is this the ultimate truth? Could there be someone else – someone far more important and powerful with far higher standards – who is evaluating us and whom we have to answer to?
  • People assume this isn’t true – they gamble their life on their being no God. But the truth is, we will all have to answer to God.
  • The sons were called worthless men, not because of their behaviour but for this reason: ‘They did not know the Lord’ (1 Samuel 2:12). They were judged on whether they knew God – not on their moral or religious state. They were even in charge of religion in that day!
  • We will be judged on the same grounds: do we know God as revealed in Jesus Christ? The sons didn’t and neither did they want to. They knew about Him but didn’t know Him.
  • Humankind doesn’t want to know about God and none of us seek Him.
  • Jeremiah 9:23 – if there is one thing we can/should boast in, it is that we know the Lord.
  • The apostle Paul’s one goal in life was this: to know Christ.
  • If you’re bored with God, you probably don’t really know Him. The more you get to truly know God, the more you desire Him and the more you hate sin. You see that you can’t love both God and sin.
  • The sons of Eli were priests and were in charge of all the sacrifices. These food sacrifices were God’s way of eating with sinners and making sure the priests were looked after. But the sons wanted all the food – they were greedy, for both the temple food and the temple women. They took what didn’t belong to them.
  • God wants us to represent Him as a generous giver – not a snatching thief.
  • 1 Samuel 2:28 – God is trying to make the sons see how much He has done for them.
  • God’s problem with greed is that we don’t realise what He’s already given us – all the blessings and provision – and that we don’t trust Him.
  • Greed makes us steal and take things that are not ours, whether it’s people or things.
  • Jeremiah 2:7-8
  • In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve such an abundance – but they went for the one tree God said they couldn’t take from.
  • We don’t expect good things from God and we think He is narrow-minded. But we are the narrow-minded ones! God wants to give us the best but we’re so focused on what we can’t have.
  • 1 Timothy 6:6: ‘Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment’
  • The sons of Eli were a terrible representation of God – they were supposed to be the mediator between God and man.
  • We are also all supposed to represent God as we were made in His image. God was so determined to restore this poor representation that He set up the priesthood. It was a complicated process to show that it is complicated for God and sinners to be friends – but God is determined to be kind to us.
  • God had to deal with Eli’s sons – He was not going to put up with being represented so terribly.
  • But it is not the end; God also promised to raise up a faithful priest, who would show what He is truly like. And He did just that – by His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave up what was rightfully His rather than demanding what was not.
  • Philippians 2:6-8

On Mission With Jesus – 1 Corinthians 9:15-23

May 17th, 2010

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1. Culture

  • Each culture has its own language, customs, habits, etc, and we have to learn these if we are cross into other cultures. Culture isn’t confined to being international – there are many sub-cultures within any culture. There are even different cultures just as we step outside our front door!
  • Paul dealt with the challenge of culture crossing – he especially needed to as an apostle.
  • Paul was firm and unmoving in his beliefs and convictions, but he was also pliable and able to accommodate different types of people.
  • The problem is that we often assume that our culture superior and is the “right” way of doing things, and we can equate certain customs and cultural values with the gospel – bringing the gospel plus our customs to other cultures. But what we need to do is bring the gospel in its absolute purest form.
  • It is difficult and it isn’t comfortable to cross cultures effectively.
  • Paul is FREE – he is free from trying to impress people and God. He is not taking on other people’s cultures to impress those people, nor is he trying to earn favour with God. He is free from condemnation and free to live for God alone.
  • Paul’s home is not in any culture because it is in heaven, so he can put aside his cultural comforts and enter any other culture.
  • Paul makes himself a servant to all – for the sake of those who don’t know Christ.

2. Jesus

  • Paul was free because of Jesus. Jesus bought our freedom and peace with God with His blood. Jesus was made a servant so that we could be free.
  • The way Paul enters other cultures like this points to something deeper and more powerful – he is acting like Jesus.
  • God Himself came down and entered our world, taking on our likeness, and made all the effort and took all the steps to reach out to us. He gets on our level and communicates to us in a way we can understand.
  • Like Jesus, we are to take the glory of God to other people.
  • Jesus will take us over borders in order to reach those who don’t know Him.
  • We have to learn the cultures and world in which we live – we need to go as far as we can to reach people, without sinning.
  • Don’t put barriers in the way of the gospel!
  • The onus is on us to take the steps and go to people with the gospel.
  • We need to be flexible and get our priorities right.

3. Challenges

  • Listening challenge: we need to learn to listen to others first, as our propensity is usually to preach at people instead. People will listen more when they’ve been heard.
  • Persuasive challenge: we need to know what and why we believe, and we need to give reason for those beliefs. Sometimes we can be superspiritual and just “leave it to the power of God”, but we need to challenge other people’s worldviews because we love them and want them to know Jesus.
  • Sunday challenge: the church has the challenge of drawing people into the community of God. We need to present ourselves and our meetings in an intelligible way, being accessible to all, and not being lazy about explaining what goes on during meetings.
  • Community challenge: drawing people into zones and small groups, particularly those who are on the fringes, and not sticking to Christian cliques. Jesus left the 99 sheep to go and find the one – we’ll grow to be more like Jesus when we reach out to and hang out with those on the edges.
  • Public challenge: this is how we present ourselves as a church in terms of communications, aesthetics, online presence, etc – presented in a clear and relevant way.
  • Misunderstanding challenge: by trying to reach out into our culture(s), people may accuse us of “selling out” and just trying to be “hip”. Other Christians and other churches may cut us off – but true maturity is putting aside the barriers and our personal preferences in order to advance the gospel whatever it takes.