FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF HERNDON

A Life in Christ Week 6

Sean Roberds | Mar 18, 2013


A Life in Christ

Week 6: Accepting Others

Introduction

When we follow Jesus and watch his interactions with others we see that Jesus goes out of his way to include the outcast.  We see his acceptance of others in the stories he tells, the people he helps and those he calls to be his followers.  In Jesus’ day, there were countless people who had been marginalized by the religious community. They were cast aside because of their sins, because of where they were born, because they were women and because they did not think the way that others did.  Instead of casting people aside, Jesus welcomed them, forgave them and invited them to a new life in him.  A life in Christ is indeed marked by the company we keep, but that company is not to be limited to people who are just like us. The company we keep should reflect the same acceptance of others that we find in Jesus.

 Monday – A Sinful Woman Forgiven

Today’s story demonstrates that Jesus is willing to accept all kinds of people.  It is obvious that he is accepting of the sinful woman who is kissing his feet, but his willingness to break bread with Simon the Pharisee shows that he’s welcoming the Pharisee as well. Here’s Jesus keeping company with a woman of the street and a man who is part of a group that is often self-righteous and critical of Jesus’ ways.  In this story we can see that Jesus welcomes people of both extremes. What we find in this story is that Jesus is willing to accept anyone who accepts him. It does not matter who you are, what you have done, or how self-righteous and foolish you have been, Jesus is welcoming.  But the invitation from Jesus is not without a stipulation: You must accept Jesus and be welcoming of all others.  

 Read today’s passage, Luke 7:36-50, and take a moment to reflect.

Questions:

Have you ever experienced a time when you felt unwelcome or rejected? How did you feel?

Have you ever experienced a welcome that was less than enthusiastic? How did that feel?

Who do you have a hard time accepting? Why?

Who does the church have the hardest time accepting?

 Actions:

Pay attention to the people around you today.  Are there any who are mistreated or could feel

unwelcomed and unaccepted? Who are they and why are they mistreated?

Think of a few simple gestures from you today that would make the people around you feel welcome.  

Tuesday – Reflection Day

Reread yesterday’s passage, Luke 7:36-50.

Questions:

Is there a word or phrase that stands out to you today?  Ponder for a moment the parts of the story that speak to you today.

Reflect on the people that you noticed yesterday who were mistreated and unwelcomed.  Were you surprised at how many you saw or who you noticed being unwelcomed?

Take a moment and think about the Church and our role in welcoming the stranger. How well do we as a church reach out to help the marginalized?

Take a minute and imagine yourself sitting in a public place all alone. Imagine that Jesus enters the public area and comes up to you and welcomes you into his company.  Think about what he would say to you and how he would act. What would your reaction be?

Wednesday – Women Are Welcome

Jesus is always tearing down social barriers and setting up new social orders.  Sinners are welcome, the poor are blessed, and even Romans can experience faith. In today’s passage, we see Luke make reference to the social acceptance Jesus offers women. In Jesus’ day, women were seen as property and they had little social value.  Rabbis in Jesus’ day would never teach women, be seen socializing with them or have women as followers. But in Luke’s gospel we find Jesus teaching Mary and Martha, we see him eating with women and we find a whole host of women following him and supporting his ministry. In the Kingdom of God there are no barriers; all are welcome and accepted. Later the apostle Paul will pen, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). A life in Christ is a life without social barriers, where all are accepted.

Read today’s passage, Luke 8:1-3, and take a moment to reflect.

Questions:

Have you ever noticed this passage of scripture or has it slipped by you?  Why do you think Luke includes this information and what does it say about Jesus and his ministry?

Why do you think the church is often the last institution to accept groups of people?

What group of people do you find it hard to accept?

It was surprising that Jesus brought women into his ministry. How has God surprised you this week?  How has God surprised you in his ability to include others?

Actions:

Think about how we as a church can be more inclusive of groups of people who are often marginalized.

Make a list of ways you can include people who are often left out.

Thursday – Reflection Day

Reread yesterday’s passage, Luke 8:1-3.

Questions:

List other stories and passages in the Bible where God includes those who are outcasts. Why do you think Jesus was so willing to include others and why at times is the church so unwilling?

Think about the role of women in the Bible and how important they have been to the faith.  Think about the church in modern times. Where would we be without the leadership of women?

In other parts of the world women are viewed as second class citizens and treated harshly.  Do we as Christians have a role to play in helping to set them free? How do we do so?

Friday – Fabulous Feast

In this familiar parable, have you ever noticed that the father goes out to both sons?  To the prodigal son who is returning, the father runs to him when he is still far off.  To the older son, the father goes out to where he stands when he refuses to join the celebration.  God longs for us to accept his acceptance. Sometimes it is hard for us to accept the radical way God forgives us and other times it is hard for us to accept others whom God has radically forgiven. In the kingdom of God there is a feast to celebrate. The invitation to the feast is twofold. First, we must accept the gifts of grace God has given us. Second, we must be willing to feast with those whom we find it hard to forgive. The music is playing, people are dancing and the barbecue smells great.  The feast is going to be fun. All you have to do is decide to come.

Read today’s passage, Luke 15:11-32, and take a moment to reflect.

Questions:

In reading this well-known passage, is there something new in the story that you noticed today?

Which son do you relate with the most, the prodigal son or the elder son? Why?

The father goes out to welcome both sons. Which son would you have the hardest time going to?

Do you ever struggle to accept the forgiveness God has given to others? If so, why do you find it hard? If not, why is it easy?

What is keeping you from fully enjoying the great feast God offers to all of his children?

Actions:

Write a letter, note or email to someone you need to forgive or accept forgiveness from.

Think of ways you can truly celebrate the great grace God offers you and others.

Saturday – Reflection Day

Reread all the passages from the week: Luke 7:36-50, Luke 8:1-3 and Luke 15:11-32.

Questions:

What common themes run through each passage?

Which of the three passages was the most intriguing for you? Why?

Which passage was the most challenging? Why?

Pick a passage to revisit and spend some time reflecting on it. Is there a special word for you to hear in this scripture today? Is there a prayer to pray? Is there a confession to confess? Is there a calling to follow?

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