Do We Teach Them What They Need to Know About Jesus?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:36-39 (NLT)
3 After all, the chief purpose of all ceremonies is to teach the people what they need to know about Christ. (1)
“Biblical worship is rooted in an event that is to be lived, not proven. The purpose of worship is not to prove the Christ it celebrates, but to bring the worshipper so tune with God’s reconciliation through Christ that His death and resurrection becomes a lived experience.” (2)
““As long as I have strength to breathe, I will continue to preach that it is vitally necessary that we be souls of prayer at all times, at every opportunity, and in the most varied of circumstances, because God never abandons us” (no. 247). That was his one and only concern: to pray and to encourage others to do likewise. That was why he brought about in the midst of the world a wonderful “mobilization of people,” as he liked to call it, “who are ready to commit themselves to live Christian lives,” by developing their filial relationship with God our Father. We are many who have learned, from this thoroughly priestly priest, “the great secret of God’s mercy, that we are children of God.” (3)
The quote in blue, from the 24th Article of the Augsburg Confession, is among my favorite quotes from all religious writing. When I teach Worship/Liturgy, Caregiving, or even Preaching, it becomes the 1 statement that MUST be understood, the foundational statement of the course.
As I look at what is being taught and written about; as I consider my own education for the ministry; how I was taught to preach, teach and lead worship, I realize I have to ask the question,
Are we teaching them what they really need to know about Jesus?
I think one of the ways we can measure that is found in the scripture verse above in red.
Are they learning to love God with all they are, and to love their neighbor? (without asking, “are they really my neighbor?
I have to ask, is that the result every aspect of our church services, from the sacraments, the sermons, the singing, the liturgy, and prayers? Is it what results from our Bible studies, the counseling sessions and even the meetings of boards and teams? Do our people love God more, grow in their adoration of Him? Will they share in the lives of those around them? Will they weep with them, laugh with them, share food and life with both those who know Christ, and those who need to know Him?
Can we hold that up as the standard? Does how our people love reflect on whether we’ve told them what they need to know about Jesus?
Webber makes another point worth considering, that reveals a sobering answer to this,
“Liberals turned worship into a time for ethical reflection on the love of God, while conservatives concentrated on an intellection defense of the Gospel. In both cases church leaders gave into to secularism and allowed it to define worship.” (4)
Far too often, we forget what changes people, what creates the love of both God and neighbor. It isn’t just found in nurturing the intellect, or making logical appeals for what is good, ethical and beneficial. This only provides a narrow stimulation, that of the mind. Our teaching, our preaching our worship, has to go deeper. It has to cause, as Webber says, ou words must guide them in living through the death and resurrection of Christ.
It is there, in the presence of God, dwelling in Christ, abiding in Him, that we discover what true love is. That we, the very children of God, live our lives intimately communicating with God. A relationship that goes beyond anything we know, for this relationship reveals the transcendent life of a Christ, what Paul talks about in Colossians.
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)
This is what it means to give them what they need to know about Christ, to know His presence, His love, His mercy! To see Him so clearly that the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts of stone into hearts that beat with the love of God, and then can love others.
Whether our people grow in love of God, and their neighbors is how we judge whether our preaching, our administration of the sacraments, our worship, and our very ministry give people what they need to know about Christ.
Lord Have Mercy on Us, even this mercy of revealing to us what we need to know of Christ. AMEN!.
(1) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 59). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
(2) Webber, Robert: Worship is a Verb Peabody Mass, Hendrickson Publishing
(3) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). Friends of God (Kindle Locations 136-140). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(4)Webber, Robert: Worship is a Verb Peabody Mass, Hendrickson Publishing
Posted on March 2, 2015, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Poiema and tagged Convergence, death and resurrection, God's love, Love your neighbor, Martin Lither, measuring ministry, Ministry, preaching, Robert Webber, sacraments, St. Josemaria Escriva. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.