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A couple of years ago while I was an associate pastor at Wylie United Methodist Church I was preaching at one of the worship services when I noticed that a young girl, about 10 years old, in the first couple of rows. She was paying close attention throughout the service and making notes on the church bulletin. After the service was over she approached me and I could tell she had something she wanted to ask. She started off by saying that shetruly enjoyed my sermon but was bothered that she wasn’t able to “check off” everything during the service. “Check off?”, I thought to myself. It turned out that she was “checking off” each item as it occurred during the service on the bulletin. It happened that there was one item she was not able to check off, this was because I had added it to the service after the bulletin had been printed. She informed me that if it is not on the bulletin then I should not have included it in the service, because she can’t check off what is not printed. Lesson learned.
You have probably been to an event like a recital, graduation, or play and have looked at the “program” so that you know what was going to happen and when it would take place. If someone added something to the event that was not listed or even worse was listed incorrectly, it may have bothered you. We rely on those “programs” to reveal our place in the order of things. The word “program” has a couple of definitions, but it is most often used to describe the order or arrangement. When someone enters into a “program” for rehab, they are entered into a series of measures, events, or activities that have been set to achieve a certain outcome.
Discipleship is God’s “program” for your life. Christ invites us into it and the Holy Spirit guides us through it. What is our program? Jesus summarizes the whole of it in two sentences: “One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31, NRSV). There it is, plan and simple, yet why do we struggle?
Well it is my opinion that we cloud our understanding of this with things that don’t belong. Often when you enter a program you not only find out what will take place but also what won’t. In our scripture this Sunday (John 2:13-22), Jesus clears the temple because things were taking place in it that did not belong. Maybe you know what should be taking place in your life, but have you been convicted of what shouldn’t? Join us this Sunday at 10:30 AM as we explore this and more. I do my best not to add anything to the service that is not listed in the bulletin!
In God’s grip,
Pastor Chuck Church