Sunday the 13th was a great day at Ebenezer. Our adult Sunday school continued our study of James with 3:13-18, contrasting earthly “wisdom” with God’s wisdom. We agreed that there is a way to test our “wisdom,” our choices in relationships, by comparing them with James’ description in verse 17.
- Is the “truth” that I am speaking pure or tarnished by envy or selfishness?
- Am I being considerate of another’s feelings, hopes, or dreams?
- Are my actions submissive to God’s will for my life?
- Am I showing to others the mercy God has given to me?
- Do my words bring people together or cause cliques and separation?
During the children’s sermon, I showed the kids some tracing templates representing everything from a clown, to a dinosaur, to a monkey, plus a cat and a wind-up mouse. (One of the kids figured that one out!) I showed them how tracing those templates could help them draw a picture that they might not be able to make on their own. Then we talked about how Jesus’ life is our template. By following the pattern of Jesus’ life, our lives can become a beautiful picture of God’s love.
Sunday’s gospel reading, Mark 8:27-38, reminded us that Jesus calls us to carry our cross as we follow Him, not just when we want to or when everything is easy, but even in the hard times, the sorrowful times, and the moments of darkness and frustration. We finished the worship service with the song, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” as a commitment to follow the pattern of Jesus’ life, to seek and live in God’s will every day.
AN APPEAL TO PEACE
The church in Corinth was “successful.” They had growth, spiritually and in numbers. God blessed the Corinthian believers with strength, as well, but they had a problem. In this urban church, the believers struggled with identity. It wasn’t their identity in Christ—they had resolved that by putting their faith in Jesus. Just after his greeting, Paul challenged the believers: Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose (1 Corinthians 1:10).
There it is: The believers in Corinth were star worshippers. By that I mean they picked out their “star” teachers, and that became their group’s identity. The only problem was the church couldn’t agree on which “star” was the right one. Some followed Cephas (Peter), and some Apollos, Some thought Paul was the teacher to follow. The church was divided.
We are not unlike the Corinthians. Although we all call on the name of Jesus, we each have our tenets, our distinctives, our traditions. And each of us is sure that we have the “right” interpretation. Having been Roman Catholic, Baptist, Church of God, Assemblies of God, and now Presbyterian, I’m more sure than ever that we all have something to contribute to the larger church. The Greenfield ministerial alliance does a wonderful job of portraying this truth. Our combined worship services and outreaches throughout the year bring together the best of all of us as we together worship and serve God.
Paul challenged the Corinthians to be united under one banner, the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ. We may worship in different ways, and in different locations, but the thread of the gospel ties us together. “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (v.18).
Pastor Mary Kay Glunt