For those that visit this site every Sunday to see what new post might be there, I am sure you quickly realized that there was a void. There is a reason for this void.
Willow Creek Friends Church, and as extention Jared Warner the pastor of Willow Creek and the author of this Blog, is a member of a larger religious society (denomination). This larger group is the Evangelical Friends Church Mid America Yearly Meeting.
I know that the name is a mouthful, but there is a reason. Friends Meetings, often but not always unite into larger Meetings to pool resources for greater ministry. A Monthly Meeting or local church is often part of an Area or Quarterly Meeting. Thes Quarterly and Monthly Meetings also partner with a larger cooperative of Meeting to form a Yearly Meeting. If you noticed the names Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly are there for a purpose. The time element of the name is when we have a specified time to meet for the expressed purpose of how and where we will invest the resources that have been given to the Meeting’s care.
Each month the Monthly Meeting, or local church, invites those that participate in worship to a Meeting for Worship in which Business is conducted. These meetings are unique in the Friends Church because they are not conducted like many governing organizations, we do not seek a majority, or even a super majority. Instead we seek a sense of the Meeting. Many would look at this from the outside and think that we are wanting unanimous consent, and they would not be completely incorrect. There is more to it than unanimous consent. As Friends, we believe that the Spirit of God is our ever present teacher and guide. We believe that if we seek the Spirit and listen, we will be guided toward the places we need to go.
Yes it sounds strange, at times it is strange, at times it seems impossible because to get to that collective sense of the Spirit, we as a group must lay aside all those opinions and personal agendas we might hold and actually live a life of faith. We have to entrust to this unseen divine light, all those resources we as individuals gave and not maintain control. We must trust that every member in attendance around us is also doing the exact same thing.
Needless to say this process can take time, because as each person speaks and as we all seek, we are able to lay more of our own control down and trust what God is and will do. As we seek answers to the questions raised and as we pray eventually we all come to a place where the direction is clear. The process can be filled with many feelings but when that process is directed with care the results are powerful. (If you would like to learn more about this decision making process I encourage you to read this book. Practicing Decernment Together by Lon Fendall, Jan Wood, Bruce Bishop.
This process is conducted in some form at each level of these Meetings. And this past weekend, our Yearly Meeting gathered at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas to meet for Worship and business. Over the years some of the decision have been entrusted to committees to respect the time of those that attend but the process is the same. Each Quarterly Meeting or area has a representative that is appointed by the area to represent their area, these representatives are chosen because of their wisdom, passion, and discernment in those areas of ministry. I have had the privilege of serving on some of these committees over the years. These committees will do much of the decernment and then bring what they sense to the Yearly Meeting representatives (a person that is chosen from each monthly meeting to represent that meeting).
If the decisions presented by the various committees are accepted by the representatives, we as a collective group move forward. At times there is a sense that more discernment is needed and those items are taken back to the committees to be considered and prayed about more.
What could we possibly need to do for so long? These committees discuss things like budgets. Other committees will then take their portion of the budget and consider how to invest those resources. We use those resources to extend ministry invarious ways, opening new Meetings, encouraging educational organizations, supporting various projects within our region or even in countries outside of our region. And we also share with the representatives how the investment of those resources has assisted those it was entrusted to.
I will not go into great detail, but to see there change in people’s lives has been remarkable. This year we had the privilege of accepting into our Yearly Meeting a new Monthly Meeting. But the interesting thing about this particular Meeting was that they came to us because of the work people have done in countries on the other side of the world.
The point of all this is to let you all know a bit more about the unique aspects of Friends, and to let you know why I did not post a message like I usually do. In our weekly Meeting for Worship, we live streamed the closing meeting of the Yearly Meeting.
In this closing Meeting we recorded three ministers. Recording is something that may sound odd from the outside as well. As Friends we believe that everyone is a minister in some manner. Meaning each of us should be living our lives obedient to the leading of the Spirit. But there are some people that exhibit a special giftedness. Some people that have an ability to encourage and equip the church to do the ministry they are called to do. These people are recommended to the Yearly Meeting for recording. Some might say that it is simply and ordination service, but that is not correct. Friends believe God ordains, God empowers, and enable. We only record what God has done.
We as a Yearly Meeting recorded three ministers. All three of these individuals are amazing and have encouraged many people. They are pastors but more as well, they are teachers in colleges, and they assist the students in our areas to find their place in the world and in the ministry of God. All three of the individuals recorded today have been encouraging in my personal life, and it is odd to me that they were recorded after I had been recorded.
That is the uniqueness of Friends. We do not seek recording, but the monthly meetings recommend them. We encourage everyone to do what they are called to do where they are at. Some may never be recorded while others are recommended right away. This does not really mean anything other than some equip quietly over time and others are sent out, but all have a place.
I am rambling, but I do love the Friends Church. I encourage you to learn more about us. And want you all to know that you can contact me if you want.
Recommended books and websites:
The Heart of Friends: Quaker History and Beliefs by Glenn W. Leppert
Practicing Decernment Together by Lon Fendall, Jan Wood, Bruce Bishop
Evangelical Friends Church MidAmerica Yearly Meeting
Contact me at: email@example.com
By Jared Warner
Willow Creek Friends Church
July 18, 2021
Click to Join our Meeting for Worship
Mark 6:30–34 (ESV)
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
Mark 6:53–56 (ESV)
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
How has your week been? How many items did you have in your schedule? Did you get them all completed or are you thinking right of what you need to do as soon as the meeting for worship is over? We live in a culture that almost takes pride in being busy. If someone does not have to look at their calendar when you ask to meet with them, we almost feel as if they are lazy. And we almost feel embarrassed if we do not have at least one event conflicting with potential meetings. The conversation around juggling schedules is replacing idle chit chat about the weather, mainly because having an opinion about the weather would require us to slow down to notice if there are clouds or not.
We are a busy culture. When I was in Ukraine, I was constantly annoyed that people did not show up to meetings on time. I was annoyed that the trains were not where they said they would be when they said they would be there. I was annoyed that people did not have a sense of urgency. And I get back home and begin work in a corporate world, and my supervisors are telling me that I do not have enough sense of urgency. I have been told that I am too laid back and need care more. I have always found this to be surprising, and to be honest I would venture to say that those supervisors did not know me nor how I work.
In today’s passage, we see Jesus and the disciples in a bit of a different way. Usually, the gospel accounts have Jesus doing the ministry and the disciples just following him around. But today, is a bit different. Jesus is the one sitting around and the disciples are the ones that are on the move. Jesus sent the disciples out. He sent them to the surrounding villages around his hometown to minister. He told them to go. He advised them to put on their durable shoes and to grab a walking stick and nothing else. Do not pack a bag, do not run to the bank to get some cash from the ATM, he did not even want them to pack a lunch. Just go. And he gave them the authority over unclean spirit, he gave them the power and authority to do pretty much everything they had watch him do.
Jesus sends them out, but what does he do in the meantime? He morns his cousin’s death. Jesus sends out the twelve, giving them authority over unclean spirits, and they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. They cast out demons and anointed many who were sick with oil and brought about healing. And while they do that, we got that weird interlude in Mark’s gospel where we discuss the growing fame of Jesus’ name and Herod’s guilty conscience. Jesus sent out his disciples to give himself space.
We do not see this interlude as Jesus’s grief. Even though I spoke about the passage last week I did not present it in this manner, but if we consider the scene. The twelve are out wandering in the villages, expanding the ministry of Christ. And Jesus is alone, and maybe he joined with John’s disciples as they carried his body to the tomb.
Today, the disciples are making their way back to where Jesus was. They are sharing various stories and are filled infectious excitement. Do we sense the excitement? I want us to remember the Monday after the Chiefs won the super bowl. How many of us remember the score at the beginning of the 3rd quarter? How many of us remember as the opposing team posed for a picture after scoring a touchdown assured that they were going to win? How many of us remember the remarkable comeback? The conversations the Monday after were filled with commentary, smart phones were replaying highlights, and pretty much everyone was talking about the game. I remember that day, I remember how the supervisors at the store expected little to get accomplished that day, and their expectations were not far from correct.
That was just a football game. What the disciples experienced was far beyond even being present at the live event. They had watch people around them being released from spiritual bondage. They were seeing illnesses that crippled the afflicted leaving the body and lives being restored. We have trouble remembering how to tell the punchline of a joke at times, imagine trying to explain atrophied muscles becoming firm and toned.
They did not want to stop talking. They were excited to tell their stories and to hear the stories that the other groups had to share. Each group most likely brought people along with them to tell stories as well. We are not told this explicitly but if the story is too good to be true but it really is true, you would want to bring a witness or two to corroborate what you had to say. People are coming and going. Stories are shared, laughs are heard. There is so much traffic in and out that the disciples and Jesus could not even take a break, even to eat.
Have you had a day like that? I worked in retail for the past eleven years. I understand this kind of busy. There are days where the stores that I have worked at buy food for their employees for one reason, the stores are so busy that if they did not have food readily available their employees would not take the time to eat. It is not that they wanted them to work that hard there was just too much to do. When a store is preparing for inventory, the day when every item in the store is counted, employees are not thinking about food, they want to make sure their area is ready to go. When the Black Friday event begins and customers are herding into the aisles a retail working is not thinking about when their lunch break will come, because they are too busy helping their customers find the hot deal on an instapot. We have days like this. I am sure that during tax season accountants have their schedule booked so tightly they are lucky to have time to eat a granola bar within the course of their workday, and I know that during harvest farmers wives often must remind their husbands that sleep is necessary.
The camp of the disciples was busy. The excitement was at monumental levels. And I can just imagine that Jesus was probably having a great time watching and listening. But he also knew that the human body cannot endure that kind of stress for long.
Adrenaline is an amazing biochemical produced within our bodies. It can enable our bodies to perform in nearly superhuman ways, but it comes with side effects. The presence of this hormone causes the muscles in the body to become stimulated. The heart beats faster, our legs might begin to twitch, our senses become more alert. This happens because we are on edge, ready to respond quickly in instance of danger. The body then begins to produce more glucose so that the muscles can have the energy to continue to function at this heightened state. Our bodies are using more glucose so if we do not eat eventually our bodies will become hypoglycemic. To combat this the liver kicks into action converting the fats in our body into usable energy. This sounds great, but what happens if we are not actually using the energy?
Adrenaline is produced during high stress. This can be positive or negative stress. If positive we are usually working hard or exercising. The negative stress is the problem. Doctors will tell us to do things to relieve stress in our lives because its hard on our heart, or maybe because we are borderline diabetic. The reason they say this is because when we are stressed mentally our bodies still respond in the same way as if a dog were chasing us, but our muscles are not using energy so the adrenaline is pumping our body full of extra sugars with nowhere to go. Eventually when that is not used, the glucose is converted back into fat which usually is stored in places like the liver, or around the heart. Negative stress, the stress from work, and misplace anxiety contribute to our nation’s obesity problem. It is not only the amount of sugar we consume. It is the stress with no healthy outlet.
I am not saying that Jesus knew the potential health risk of unchecked stress, but he could have he is God. What I am saying is Jesus understood that once the body runs on adrenaline for a while a crash is imminent. While we are in the zone, we do not know how close we are to that crash. In our mind we have never been better. Our mind is clicking, our actions are honed with precision, but with each beat of the heart we are closer to that crash. That moment when we have no more to give, and our bodies fail us. If we are an athlete the crash might be an injury something like a pulled muscle, or a twisted ankle. For me, I will be writing away thinking everything is flowing perfectly and suddenly, my brain seems to stop. I cannot type, I cannot even think. It is as if the transmission of my brain popped out of gear and the clutch is out of sync and I cannot get things reengaged no matter how hard I try.
Jesus sees this in the eyes of his disciples, and he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” Rest. Stop. Take a break. Go on vacation. Retreat.
Just when things were beginning to click, Jesus looks at them and says, “let’s take a break.” Imagine the shock of this. It would be like the coach of the football team calling a time out right when the momentum of the game was beginning to go their way. “Come away by yourselves,” Jesus says and he wants to show them and let them experience the holy rhythm that He lives.
I speak of this holy rhythm often. Enough that if you do not have it memorized after attending our meeting for a couple of months you have probably not been listening. Jesus’s holy rhythm is worship, prayer, and service. He made it his custom to worship. He withdrew to isolated places to pray, and the ministered to the need within the community. This rhythm is important for many reasons that stretch beyond the spiritual life. You can even apply this at work. Worship is celebration or remembering accomplishments. Prayer is taking a step back to examine what we are doing and looking at things from a different perspective. And service is reengaging a project. It is a holy and healthy rhythm to incorporate into your life.
But often we forget to “come away.” That coming away is in the center of the rhythm. It is in the center for a reason because it is the pivot of the cycle. If we put all our attention into service or ministry. If all our energy is on the work we need to accomplish, we might get a great deal done, but are we improving? In a football game, it is important for the offense to be on the field as long as possible. When your team’s offense is on the field that means you have control of the game. The defense is extremely important but if the defense is on the field too much you have lost control. Your defense must be strong, for the simple fact that it keeps your offense on the field.
If all we do is work, or ministry. If we are on the go all the time. It is like the defense is on the field all the time. When the defense is on the field mistakes are made and the other team gains the upper hand. When all we are focused on is the task right in front of us at any one moment, we are not able to see what is coming. When a department manager in a store is too busy stocking the shelves and not investigating the inventory levels eventually, they will sell out of items at the worst possible time. Ministry or work is immediate it right in front of us. We must do it now, those that live only in that place are highly stress. They might feel like they are keeping up, but eventually they will start to fall behind, because they have not had the time to anticipate what is coming up. If a factory pushes too hard to fulfill the orders and they do not come away to do routine maintenance, the machinery will break down causing greater harm. If a truck driver keeps driving and does not stop to rest an accident will eventually happen. We need to rest. We need to slow things down so we can regain control and perspective.
Jesus taught us that the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath. God gave us the sabbath not because he required that day for us to worship him, but we need that day. We need a day to stop what we are doing so that we can reengage life with renewed energy. And sabbath is not just worship on a Sunday morning. Sabbath is an intentional and disciplined. It is routine maintenance of our physical and spiritual life. It is there to remind us of what is most important, and why we do what we do.
After the disciples joined Jesus in this sabbath retreat, we see Jesus coming ashore, he sees a great crowd, and he has compassion on them. He has compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd. I want us to focus on this as we enter our time of Holy Expectancy. A sheep without a shepherd is chaos, fear, despair. Sheep without a shepherd are wondering around without direction. They are eating the grass, following only their mouth and their stomach, until they are lost and vulnerable to attack. A sheep without a shepherd is the state of mind we find ourselves in when we live our busy lives without time to come away and rest. One thing after another, the next task, the next project, the next, the next. Wondering eating one blade of grass after another until we are lost and vulnerable. Yes, we might be working on good things, things that have great importance, even righteous importance but what is the cost? Come away, take a break, go on vacation, get some rest. Develop a holy rhythm in life, because the things that you are doing have great importance, and the offense needs to be on the field.
If you would like to help support the continued Ministry of Willow Creek Friends Church please consider donating online:
By Jared Warner
Willow Creek Friends Church
July 11, 2021
Click to Join our Meeting for Worship
Mark 6:14–29 (ESV)
14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
This past week I have thought a great deal about life. I was back on the farm helping my dad. When making various trips and while in the field the farm life allows for a great deal of introspection. When you are traveling at a top speed of twenty miles per hour, you have time to think.
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. This phrase had stuck out to me this week. Why would anyone even mention it? Of course, Jesus’ name was making its way across the land and into the local seats of power.
As I was making the various slow trips across the plains of Kansas, I began thinking about Herod. We know him as a king, and when we hear the word king our mind begins to come up with mental images that are filled with grand extravagance. But I want us to consider what Herod was the king of.
To call Herod a king is a bit of a stretch and I think the gospel writers used that term as much in jest as anything. This particular Herod is Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. Herod the Great was an actual king. When Herod the Great died his kingdom was divided among various heirs because Israel, while being semi-autonomous, were under Roman authority.
Herod Antipas wanted to be king. At one point in time, he was the sole heir of the entire kingdom of Herod the Great but his desire for power proved to be his undoing. Herod the Great, was by all secular accounts an effective ruler. He had the support of the people and when necessary, he would stamp out rebellion quickly and efficiently. The problem was that he had too much influence. Israel has never been large, yet when they have a ruler that is wise, they have had influence that far exceeds their size. Herod the Great had a great deal of influence. That amount of power in such a small area under Roman jurisdiction posed a threat to the influence of Rome, so when he died the only accepted transition of power was to divide the territory into smaller parts. Herod Antipas was given Galilee and Peraea.
This is interesting. If you were to look at a map Antipas was given a decent inheritance, but the areas he ruled were not continuous. The area known as the Decapolis was in between Galilee and Peraea. This division was purposeful, because the politicians in Rome knew Antipas could have been as effective as his father in ruling Israel.
But how did the Herodian dynasty get power in the first place? Herod the great was Idumean, or an Edomite, not Jewish. He became the governor of Galilee because he had great connections. He used his influence to spread the influence of Rome, as well as honoring the people. He would use brutal force to stamp out rebellion, but quickly after he would bring in wonderous building projects like expanding the Temple. He also used his influence and connections to gain greater influence in Israel, by marrying into the Hasmonean family. This family was recognized as the royal family of the Jews because their ancestors were able to Israel to gain their independence from the Greeks. The Herod family although foreigners, became converts to the Jewish faith to some degree. They were able to use religion, might, and political cunning to maintain relative peace.
Some in Israel accepted their rule, while others still saw them as foreigners, and this is why there is a group of religious leaders known as Herodians. They agreed with how Herod and his family used religion and government to accomplish what is necessary.
This method of rule had its problems. It is impossible to govern in both spheres completely. At some point you will offend religious leaders because you are too secular and you will offend those not of similar religious faith by giving in to the religious.
King Herod, the want to be King Herod heard of Jesus’ growing influence, and it caused him concern. It caused concern because of how Herod lived his life.
Antipas used whatever was necessary to ensure his influence. When he wanted to be seen as religious, he would act pious. He had scholars at hand to assist him in speaking to the religious, but he was not too concerned with living a pious life.
Today’s passage begins with Jesus’ name, but then it goes into something else. It begins to speak about Herod’s guilt. If we were to look at a historical timeline of ministry, Jesus and John the Baptist ministered at approximately the same time. John began and built his influence, and shortly after Jesus began his public ministry, John was arrested and executed. It would almost appear as if Jesus did not fully engage in ministry until after John was executed. I think this is important because it gives us a fuller understanding of scripture. We know John as the forerunner, as the witnesses, as a prophet like Elijah. All these things have messianic and apocalyptic meanings.
When Jesus’ name was becoming known and some began to say that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead, and that Jesus could also be Elijah, or a prophet. Antipas had his own understanding. He said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” We are then told the circumstances of that execution.
Herod Antipas, although accepted as a Jewish leader by many, was not the greatest example of piety. Antipas had a problem; he was married to his brother’s wife. The whole Herod family is a bit twisted. The wife in question was not only his brother’s former wife but was also his niece. Herodias was the last living member of the Hasmonean royal family, the daughter of Antipas’s half-brother. Since she was the last member of this family, who she was married to could claim to be the ruler of the Jewish people. We are not told exactly why the divorce happened, but we can infer that Herodias was a power seeker. Her first husband Herod the second was the one that was to inherit the kingdom, but when Herod the second got caught in a scandal he was removed from the will. Then suddenly Herodias divorces and marries the most likely son of Herod to unite the kingdom again.
It was not the fact that she was his niece that caused the problem, but that she was the wife of his brother. John the Baptist did not mince words in this. He referenced Levitical law to support his stance. This law states that a man should not marry his brother’s wife because it will reveal his brother’s nakedness. The wording of these laws confuses us because they use wording that we do not understand. Nakedness does not necessarily mean what we think, it can mean something like honor and dishonor, so to marry your brother’s wife dishonors your brother by publicly revealing his lack of honor. When John condemned the marriage, we could see it as being a condemnation based on honor and respect. Philip, or Herod the second, was removed from the will and by Antipas taking his wife adds more dishonor to him by dishonoring of his brother.
To dishonor his brother, is to dishonor God. Throughout scripture we are told that God places people in or allows for positions of power. When Herod the second lost his position, it was God’s will. Antipas by marrying Herodias while her husband, his brother, lived was not only dishonoring his brother but was joining his brother in God’s displeasure. It could be seen that God did not want the continuation of the Hasmonean linage of power, so when Antipas married Herodias, they were attempting to circumvent God’s will.
There are other interpretations to this Levitical law as well. Some scholars believe that Leviticus was not written as law for all people of Israel, but for the priests and kings. When a leader of God’s people participated in actions condemned by Levitical law, it was a sign that they did not have the integrity to be a leader of the people. Antipas married his brother’s wife; therefore, he was condemned from holding the position he desired. He could not be king.
The point I am getting at is that John struck a nerve in Herod’s life. Antipas wanted to be king, he wanted to be the king of the Jewish people. He married a woman whose linage would give him greater standing in that area, but issues remained. He wanted to be seen in one manner, while living another. He sought to silence the voice that was calling out his hypocrisy. Just when he thought he had silenced that voice, another name is heard. Another voice proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. When the name of Jesus comes to the courts of Antipas, he is struck by guilt.
We all have areas of hypocrisy. Our leaders have areas of hypocrisy. What do we do with this? Antipas sold out. His desire for power and influence trumped his faith. And ultimately his quest for power lead to his complete loss of power and exile, and he died with nothing. Another king in Israel’s history also used his power to gain things that were not his. A king by the name of David. David’s lawless actions were also called out by a prophet of God, but the story ended differently. We do not look at the name of David with the same disdain as we do Herod even though David was just as bad as Antipas.
David committed adultery, and as a result he committed an act of murder to cover up his indiscretions. The difference is Herod killed the voice and David repented. David was willing to accept any judgement God bestowed on him and Herod tried to outmaneuver God. Even though Antipas respected John’s righteousness and believed that John was a holy man, he was willing to kill to silence that voice. And when Herod began to hear the name of Jesus, Herod Antipas was plagued by guilt and fear because he realized that the voice of God was still speaking out against his actions.
What do we do when we are faced with our own sin? What do we do when it is revealed to us that our actions and our words do not reflect the life we claim to live? How do we respond to those among us who are living hypocrisy in their own lives? Are we willing to sell out our faith for power or are we willing to lay down our power for the sake of our faith?
We all sell out. Antipas sold his life and reputation for power and influence, and he lost both. And he died with nothing. David sold his power and influence to gain a restoration of his life and reputation. We all sell out. We are all willing to give our lives for something. What are we giving up and what do we gain? John cried out to those in the wilderness to repent. Jesus also encourages us to repent, to turn around and walk on a different path. Jesus shows us what that path is.
He made it his custom to worship God, in the community. He withdrew often to pray in isolated places. And he ministered to the needs of those around him. He called and commissioned his disciples to Love God in worship, to embrace the Spirit in prayer, and to live the love he showed with other. Jesus is calling us to walk a different path. But he does not call us to do it on our own. Antipas sought to gain everything on his own and in the end he lost. We will lose too without Christ. Jesus came to show us what life with God is like, and he also shows us what life without God is like. Antipas wanted to silence Jesus as well, He participated in the execution of Jesus on the cross. The wages of sin is death. Each of us will eventually have to pay those wages. But death could not hold Jesus, he takes on our death and restores life to those who entrust their lives to him. Antipas sold out. He sold his life for fame and fortune. Jesus calls us to sell out too, but he is calling us to something greater. Life with Jesus does not end with death but we will live with him, for he is the resurrection and the life. How will we respond?
If you would like to help support the continued Ministry of Willow Creek Friends Church please consider donating online: