Following God in an Unstable World: Sermon #4

FOLLOWING GOD IN AN UNSTABLE WORLD: SERMON #3 – SERMON RESOURCES

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ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

Our Scriptures for today’s meditation are taken from Micah 6:8 and Matthew 9:9-13. In Chapter 6, Micah says:

He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

In Chapter 9 of Matthew’s gospel, he tells the story of how he was called by Jesus to follow him. Tax collectors were basically political enemies of the Jews who were seen traitors who were cooperating with (and benefiting from) Rome.

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciple. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew has decided to leave his role as a tax collector, but we have no indication that the other tax collectors (as well as “sinners”) made any similar decision. So Jesus is eating with people that the rigorous followers of the Law thought were the wrong kind of people. In explaining himself, Jesus quotes Hosea, who in turn is speaking a word from God. God wants mercy more than animal and other sacrifices.

In today’s exercise, we want to examine some of our potential feelings a bit more closely, revealing them both to ourselves and to God. In particular, we want to examine people with whom we have a problem; people we judge to be in the wrong, or to live wrongly. These may be people who have hurt us personally, but could also be people who live in a way that we simply don’t like or respect.

Read Micah 6:-8 above, followed by Matthew 9:9-13, slowly. Are there people who strike you like the tax collectors struck the Jews in the first century? Maybe you want to start small (groups with whom you have minor disagreements). Maybe you want to start big (groups with whom you have major issues). The issue could be politics, religion, life style, or some particular action which these people have taken or support. Imagine someone from this group needing Jesus’ message of God’s love and offering of mercy (as well as transformation) as did Matthew in the story. How do you feel about people who eat and drink (or otherwise spend time) with them? How do you feel about God leaning in towards them, wanting to spend time with them? Whatever group and feelings come to mind, simply share them with God. If you have issues with how God might be approaching this group, talk to the Lord about them. Imagine the story in Matthew continuing, with some of the Pharisees asking Jesus further questions. Try to be open to whatever God might have for you at this time.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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