|"Our Answer is God. God's answer is us. Through partnership we make our world better."
- Dorian Scott Cole
Teaching/Sermon Article: What is greatness?
Lectionary: Oct. 18, 2009 - Mark 10 (35-45)Copyright © 2009 Dorian S. Cole
The Apostles have somewhat accepted Jesus fate, to be killed. But we see in Mark 10:35-45 that they are still thinking in terms of attaining high places, being great, and being over others.
In verses 23 - 31, they anguish over their fate as they realize that a rich man, even one who has followed all of the commandments all of his life, will still find it exceedingly difficult to get into the Kingdom of God. Wealth takes priority with people over what they should do. Jesus assures them that in their judment, it would be impossible for a wealthy person to enter the Kingdom. But in God's judgment, all things are possible. They have not yet realized the significance of Christ's death and forgiveness, which makes all people acceptable to God who will accept the forgiveness offered through Christ.
Jesus also assures them that whatever they give up to follow him, whether it be a wealthy household or a family, they will gain these back a hundred times over. He means that their work will gain them families of followers of Christ who will treat them as family and welcome them.
Those in this life who seem to be first, those in great position and power, those who are served by others, will be last in the Kingdom, and those who are the last in this world, those who serve others, will be first in the Kingdom.
The Apostles James and John are still captivated by the idea of greatness and honor. In verses 35 - 45, they approach Jesus with a request. In the afterlife, they want to sit at the side of Jesus in a place of honor. Jesus points out that those places are reserved for those who endure as he must endure, and perhaps they are biting off more than they realize. Full of pride, they answer that they are ready. Jesus knows that they are not, but that they will be someday, so he diverts the response.
The other Apostles are riled by James' and John's request. Jesus reminds them all that rulers love to exercise their power over others. But that is not what they should do. Instead, to become great they must serve each other, just as Jesus serves everyone who comes to him with a request.
In this passage, chapter 10, Jesus reinforces the idea that they are to walk among the people and serve them, not find ways to rule over people. Their place and authority is to serve to make other's lives better. It is perhaps significant that he demonstrates this on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. This road is a steady upward climb, not an easy downward grade, and at the end of it Jesus knows that he will be killed. They pass a blind man who requests Jesus mercy, and the other followers considered the greatness of Jesus and the lowly position of the blind man and told him to shut up. Jesus could have ignored the lowly blind man who may have been a beggar, but out of faith the man quickly approached Jesus, and was healed.
In this passage we have juxtaposed two lifestyles. One is the style of wealth and position that people typically gravitate toward. It is a life that looks down on others, exercises power over them, and has others serve them. The other style is a life that tries to find ways to make other's lives better. It is a life that knows difficulties and suffering are probably on the road ahead, but the person graciously accepts it (OK, maybe some of us complain... a lot). The person finds it more rewarding to positively impact the lives of others. That reward is much greater than the illusions that life presents us with, that are not satisfying to our souls.
We all have choices in this life. We typically will marry and raise our families and work to support them. This is the middle life-style that keeps this world going. We are often confronted with other choices: wealth, power and position, and on another day, servitude. Sometimes wealth, position, and power allow us to serve others more effectively. Sometimes wealth, power, and position simply are weights around our neck that prevent us from serving at all. Sometimes servitude means sacrifice. But being too poor has been shown to rob people's satisfaction with life. We all have to find ways to live. Jesus asks us to choose serving others over accumulating wealth for the wrong motives. It involves a change of heart and enduring constant temptation.
The Prophetic Pattern: Discussion Guide for Ancient and Modern Prophecy
Are we all going to die on Friday, December 21, 2012? My new book critically examines that question. Available in print and ebook formats from various sources. Secure credit card purchasing. Description.
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On Friday, December 21, 2012, are we all going to die? Are there really signposts to the world's end? Does modern prophecy really merge with ancient prophecy? Will all of the Christians suddenly disappear? The answers may surprise you.
Millions of Americans are anxiously waiting for December 21, 2012 to see if the world will end. Despite the fact that signs seem to be everywhere in all ancient and modern prophecy and even science, the major sign pointed to by both Daniel and Christ is overlooked by prophecy interpreters. And interpretation of modern prophecy overlooks intent. Like a scary movie, prophecy is great fun until it starts affecting people's lives.
This book explores how to distinguish the intent of various types of prophecies and oracles, both ancient and modern. The five chapters in this discussion guide are rich in information, providing one legitimate point of view, and are intended to encourage discussion and additional research. A ten meeting discussion group is the minimum recommended.
Subjects to explore include:
About the author: Dorian Scott Cole is an independent, cross-disciplinary scholar with education and experience in psychology, philosophy, religion, language, visual semiotics, and technology. He is a licensed minister with a mainline denomination with full time pastoral and counseling experience. His education in religion and psychology was through a state university (IU) followed by independent study. Other books and publications: Ontology of God, How to Write a Screenplay, Writers Workshop Script Doctor, www.visualwriter.com, and www.onespiritresources.com.
Reading type: Mainstream, nonfiction.
Ontology of God: The voices of the ancients speak.
My recent book, Ontology of God, looks at what we can learn through the ages regarding the history of several aspects of religious development as affected by the ancient societies they were in, including law, mercy, and love. Available in print and ebook formats from various sources. Secure credit card purchasing. Description.
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Echoing through time are the voices of ancient people telling us about God. From Mesopotamia and Egypt 5000 years ago, often from even earlier oral traditions, every civilization has been inspired to tell us about God. Their voices vary widely and even conflict. Is there a common message that they thought was so important that they had to pass it on? In this book, the ancient voices speak.
This study follows the thread of the basic religious concepts of law, mercy, and love that are prominent in many religions. Major religions around the world are investigated up to the launch of the Common Era when most religions had been developed, including religions that later developed independently such as the Mayan.
These are messages refined by the fire of experience through the ages. The repeated messages collectively bear the tests of validity.
This study also looks at the many methods we use to try to understand God and religious literature. Is the nature of God reflected in what he asks of us? The premise is that it is.
By understanding the nature of God, perhaps we can filter out the many competing voices that tell us that God stands for such things as the murder of innocents and destruction.
The very nature of religion is illuminated in the light of the voices from the ages. But is ancient religion a path that we have lost, or does history hammer out newer voices to bear the truth of new experience as people try to understand their relationship with God?
About the author: Dorian Scott Cole is an independent, cross-disciplinary scholar with education and experience in psychology, philosophy, religion, language, visual semiotics, and technology. Other books and publications: How to Write a Screenplay, Writers Workshop Script Doctor, www.visualwriter.com, and www.onespiritresources.com.
Reading type: Mainstream Scholarly Specialist
Yours in Christ,
- Dorian Scott Cole
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