3/02/2011

2) The Gospel and The Call (Mark 1:14-20)

Chap 1: The Dance (Mark 1:9-11): Do you expect others to orbit around you?

Quotes: "The essence of other religions is advice; Christianity is essentially news." (15)

"The gospel is that God connects to you not on the basis of what you're done (or haven't done) but on the basis of what Jesus has done, in history, for you. And that makes it absolutely different from every other religion or philosophy." (16)

"The gospel isn't advice: It's good news that you don't need to earn your way to God; Jesus has already done it for you. And it's a gift that you receive by sheer grace--through God's thoroughly unmerited favor." (20)

"You can't have a relationship with Jesus unless he calls you." (18)

"If (Jesus) calls you to follow him, he must be your goal." (19)

The Gospel (Mark 1:14-15)

Gospel (Euangelion in Greek) means "news that brings joy." In Mark's day, it meant history-making, life-shaping news, as opposed to just daily news.

What's the difference between Christianity and all other religions, including no religion? Other religions say, "This is what you have to do; this is how you have to live to get to God." (This basically burdens and weighs you down: How much is enough? How good is good enough?) But the gospel says, "This is what has been done in history. This is how Jesus lived and died to earn the way to God for you." Christianity is completely different. It's joyful news.

The Call (Mark 1:16-20)

In Jewish tradition, pupils chose rabbis; rabbis did not choose pupils. But Mark shows that Jesus is different: he chooses and he calls (Mark 1:16-20).

What is Jesus' call? It is basically saying, "Knowing me, loving me, resembling me, serving me must become the supreme passion of your life. Everything else comes second."

People regard this as fanaticism. The very religious (sadly) have a reputation of being condemning, self-righteous, or even abusive. Most see religion as a spectrum of belief: those who say they believe but not live accordingly, to the fanatics, who over-believe and over-live their faith. People think that the solution to fanaticism is moderation in all things--not too zealous, and not too uncommitted, but being right in the middle.

Is moderation the way Christianity works? There's no moderation in Jesus' words (Luke 14:26). Why does Jesus use the word "hate" (Luke 14:26), when he says elsewhere that Christians should love even their enemies (Matt 5:44)? Jesus is not calling us to hate actively; he's calling us to hate comparatively. Otherwise, we'll only use Jesus to get what we want: love, happiness, stability, security. But Jesus will not be a means to an end; he will not be used.

Fanaticism is really not being too committed, but being not committed enough. Thus, they are not as humble and sensitive, or as understanding and generous as Jesus was. Why? They're still treating Christianity as advice instead of good news. Because of their effort to follow advice, they are condescending toward those they think are not trying hard enough. They are like nauseating older brothers (Luke 15:29,30), who drive seekers and others away from Christianity.

AUTHORITY (Mark 1:21-22; 29-31)

Authority means "out of the original stuff." It comes from the same root as the word author. Jesus taught about life with original rather than derived authority. Jesus wasn't simply clarifying or interpreting, but he taught as the author. Jesus' authority was not just over spiritual matters, but he was also king over the physical world, for he has real power over sickness, as when he healed Simon's mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31).

How to follow Jesus: Follow the thread (forward, not backward, trusting God who is trustworthy and good) based on George MacDonald's children's book called The Princess and the Goblin. Jesus followed his thread to the cross so you can follow yours into his arms. (22-25)

Practical Questions: Do you primarily teach the Bible as good news, or as advice and instructions?

Do you invite people to Christ with your persuasion, wisdom, experience, and charisma, or do you impress upon them that only God can call them, not you?

Does your sense of your own authority rest on you and your credentials, or from the Source?


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