We’re seeing the impact that Jesus’ birth has had beyond those who lived 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. Here’s a story about one of the first people to meet Jesus, when he was about 40 days old, and how he saw Jesus would change the world:
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:22-35 ESV)
This man, Simeon, was told he would not die until he had seen the Messiah – God’s anointed one – the true king of Israel. Now, here he was, a baby in Simeon’s arms. In this song or poem, he essentially says he can finally die happy.
But this isn’t just about Simeon. It’s not even just about his people, the Jews, even though t happens at a very Jewish occasion – the temple, with all its purification laws, etc. and a Jewish blessing.
You can see it’s much larger when Simeon says God is doing something about salvation for “all peoples” and specifically a light of revelation for the Gentiles (non-Jews) as well as Israel.
The child Simeon blesses will have an impact globally, eternally. Sometimes that will be wonderful, but other times he’s described as being divisive. Whether we like that or not, we can see Jesus has indeed been divisive – it’s hard to sit on the fence about Jesus – families, friends and other people groups have long been divided by their beliefs about him.
Question: How does the birth of Jesus divide people today? What thoughts might he reveal?
This is our new series on becoming like family. There are five main characteristics of the kind of community we’re forming. The first one:
Discipleship – what we’re learning together as a community. Here’s our guidance from the Bible on this characteristic. Comes from Paul, one of the first to start new church communities in the cities around the Mediteranean., reflecting here on what it means to be a church made up of different kinds of leaders and people, all learning the same thing.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15
Yesterday, I told you about having attended homecoming at the university where I studied engineering. Naturally enough, first year engineering students tend to think they will all end up in engineering careers. My experience, however, was that after graduating we end up in all sorts of professions. My own class includes actual engineers, but also those in business, consulting, full-time parenting, doctors, lawyers, rock climbing gym owners, urban planners, even running mobile apps for commuters.
But some common threads emerge – we have learned to think analytically to solve complex and diverse problems that might not have been anticipated.
We have a similar aim in discipleship. The point is not that all followers of Jesus will become automatons with no discernible differences. They are simply to have the same aim, purpose in mind, to learn to follower Jesus Christ and apply that to the many challenges of life. The idea is not to memorize rules, but learn maturity in Christ.
We can see this diversity in the five types of work in the church listed here. There are other lists, as well, but we’ll just use this example.
Teacher – Helps others study the Bible and learn to follow Jesus.
Shepherd – Helps others live as a follower of Jesus, through close relationships.
Evangelist – Tells the story of the good news of Jesus Christ in compelling ways.
Apostle – Develops and leads new church communities that reach new people and places.
Prophet – Tells it like it is, speaks for God’s interests when there is injustice and sin.
Question: Which of these five do you understand the least? Why might it be necessary?
Coffee Hours this Week:
Have questions about the challenges, do you want to meet others exploring the same content, or connect with Ryan?
Join us for our coffee shop drop-in tomorrow night, Wednesay, October 30th from 7:30pm-9:00pm at the Starbucks in the Ajax Chapters. Look for Ryan Sim in the drink line, or a Redeem the Commute postcard on a table.
If you know in advance that you’re coming, please RSVP here http://bit.ly/1aHVTy2
This series looks at becoming “like family” with others learning to follow Jesus. We're exploring how the church is not a building, institution or event, but a community of people. It's important that explore what church means as we prepare to launch a new church in Ajax in 2014.