Each week Pastor Sarah blogs on the Scripture for Sunday's upcoming sermon. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Each week’s blog post during SSUMC’s Not So Secret Agents of God Series will offer a reflection on Jesus’ Greatest Commandment; by faithfully living into – which means faithfully living out! –our Savior’s command to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength – friends, there is no way we will be secret agents of God!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ Acts 14:8-22.
Devotional Scripture ~ Mark 12:30 and I Peter 4:11.
I want to let y’all in on a little secret…
When pastors cannot come up with an answer to a question, we ask a very reliable source…Facebook.
I once asked Facebook “what does it mean to love God with all your strength?” and my dear friend and clergy colleague, the Rev. Lisa Degrenia answered, “compassion in concert with Christ’s.”
One day I hope to be as smart as her.
Strength is compassion in concert with Christ’s compassion. Christ’s compassion was seen and heard and felt in his fostering community with folks that others had said “no, not you.”
Jesus said, “yes, yes you” and he came under scrutiny for it day after day.
“Why did you heal her today? Have you no respect for the Sabbath?”
“Why would you eat with the likes of him?”
“Why would you draw near to a child and say the Kingdom belongs to her?”
The constant barrages and verbal assaults must have weighed heavy on his heart, but Jesus was not dismayed or dissuaded from his desire to build community that was so desperately needed and so incredibly lacking. If he relied on human strength alone, well, think of our own strength; we can only take so much. Jesus relied on strength that can only come from God.
As I considered images of strength this week many thoughts came to mind:
The athleticism of competitors
The persistence of patients recovering from illness
The courage of persons who ask for help so they can make a change
The courage of persons who ask for support so they can help others make a change
The Psalmist sings, “I lift my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?” (Ps 121:1). When we ask where our help comes from, who provides our strength, our ischus in Greek – meaning ability, force, strength, and might – the same word in both our passages from the Gospel of Mark and I Peter, what answer do we find?
I would hope our answer echoes the Psalmist, “My help comes from the Lord” (Ps 121:2). In affirming and challenging that response, the writer of I Peter adds, “Whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies” because our serving is not possible through our strength, but only through the strength that God provides (I Peter 4:11).
Through his grace-filled power, our transformation into overt agents of God is nearly complete.
Prayer: “Let us then be true and faithful, trusting, serving every day; just one glimpse of him in glory will the toils of life repay. When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”* Amen.
*“When We All Get to Heaven,” The United Methodist Hymnal 701.