Do you know what you are asking for?

‘Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

“We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”’

Mark 10: 35-45

This doesn’t come naturally

 

‘We do not live for ourselves alone in this mortal body, doing things only to serve ourselves, but we also live for all people on earth. In fact, we live only for others and not for ourselves. That is why we discipline our body, so that we can sincerely and freely serve others… Therefore, it is not possible for us ever to be idle in this life and not to serve our neighbours.’

WA 7:64 (The Freedom of a Christian, 1520); see LW 31: 364

Courage

‘David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.’ 1 Chronicles 28:20

‘Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.’ 1 Corinthians 15:58

Food for thought on adoption and family

‘But Christians, at any rate, are called to recognize as kin, as their own flesh and blood, those with whom they do not share traceable genetic material. A history of relationship, commitment sustained over time, is what forms and sustains the bond of father and mother with their children.’

Gilbert C. Meilaender, Not by Nature but by Grace: Forming Families Through Adoption, p 11

Making sense of a hard passage

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of his body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” Colossians 1:24

‘Christ has prepared a love offering for the world by suffering and dying for sinners. It is full and lacking in nothing – except one thing, a personal presentation by Christ himself to the nations of the world and the people of your workplace…

What this means, I think, is that God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of his people. God really means for the body of Christ, the church, to experience some of the suffering he experienced so that when we offer the Christ of the cross to people, they see the Christ of the cross in us. We are to make the afflictions of Christ real for people by the afflictions we experience in offering him to them, and living the life of love he lived…

The point is that taking the gospel to people (across the office or across the ocean) ordinarily requires sacrificing and suffering, a losing of life or a denying of self. This is the way Christ means for his saving sufferings to be taken to the world, through the sufferings of people. Suffering is God’s strategy for completing the Great Commission. We have plenty of time in eternity to enjoy the benefits.’

John Piper, ‘Filling Up What is Lacking in Christ’s Afflictions’, @ desiringgod.org

What does it mean to be made “one flesh” in marriage?

“These words [one flesh] are not to be understood to mean that [husband and wife] only physically become one flesh and blood, but they pertain to everything that belongs to outward physical life. The written word flesh means one’s outward life in the flesh. It should transpire that everything belongs to both of them and that they accept everything together and that each one brings to the other body, goods, honor, shame, poverty, illness, and whatever else there is.”

Sermons on Genesis, 1527, [WA XXIV], quoted in Susan C. Karant-Nunn and Merry E. Wiesner, Luther on Women: A Sourcebook, [New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003], 18.)

Purpose of Church and State and what this means for your vocation

“May I come back to what I said before? This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden— that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 199.