Sunday, July 7, 2019

4th Pentecost Sent by Jesus

Isaiah 66:10-14

Galatians 6:(1-6) 7--16

Luke 10:1--11, 16--20

In the Jewish Bible, the Kingdom of God is compared to vine yards and other agriculture. Jesus does the same. The "Day of the Lord" is often likened to a harvest. Jesus tells one parable, where God patiently watches as the wheat and weeds grow together. Our world, like our hearts, are weed infested. God waits for His day.

If things are sometimes hard now, Christians hope that someday God will make all things well, but in the mean time we must be patient, long-suffering and steadfastness. We encounter so much physical pain and emotional suffering, in others, if not ourselves. Demons of despair sink their claws into our hearts to tear them from Abba Father.

The Bible makes clear that we are to pray to God for salvation in all its forms. We all know, however, that our prayers are often "ineffective." We have looked at this, but a brief refresher: we must pray in faith, doubt is an effective barrier to receiving what God would give. This includes the unbelief of  those around us. However, if we fail to pray with faith it is a barrier to deliverance [see Mt 21:22 and James 1:6]. Unfortunately, doubt is not the only issue; unrepentant sin, fear, and unforgiveness are as well. The sinful passions all render prayer ineffective.  

Jesus provides us a way out. Every problem is caused by sin--the separation from God--so union with God is the antidote. Jesus challenges us to pray for God's concerns: the fallen world. We are disciples, entrusted with a sacred mission. We are to make the world holy—starting with our own hearts—by offering it to God. We are to proclaim the Kingdom message of salvation. Unfortunately  there are not enough people willing to do it. Jesus Himself said there are too few workers—He tells us, Pray that the Father will send more workers into the harvest! He also sends us, “Go! Do the work!" This prayer and kingdom work unites us to God.

This does raise an issue, “Why doesn’t God just take care of it Himself?” I don’t know. The Incarnational God is a "scandal" for our theology. The 'God-among-us' says He needs us. Jesus says that we have to pray. Why? Jesus sends us out to do the work. Why? Jesus says God is like a land owner who needs laborers to bring in the harvest. How can this be? It sounds crazy to say God needs our help, yet Jesus seems to say just that. Why would God be in partnership with us? (Some claim this is what set Lucifer and the fallen angels against God) Ever since YHWH gave Adam dominion over the earth, human agency has partnered with Divine. Since the Fall, humans have been both united and separated from God. As we said earlier, Jesus said it is like weeds in a farm field. The weeds are everywhere, including our hearts and souls.

If we are the problem, God’s solution still includes us. Jesus sends us out as lambs among wolves. He says focus on God’s provision and not our resources. He tells us to confront Satan and set people free from the demonic. He says be instruments of God’s healing love—for body, soul, spirit.

It amazes how much Jesus trust us, especially as we are rarely enthusiastic about discipleship. He identifies Himself with us, saying, “Whoever rejects you, rejects Me, whoever rejects Me, rejects the One who sent Me.” If our biggest problem is our separation from God, then Jesus identifying with us (Theosis—union with God) is the solution. Prayer and Kingdom focus are the best way to be one with God.

Let us pray. Father make us one with you in Jesus. Holy Spirit purify us and consecrate us as instruments of Kingdom salvation. Help us love you and love others enough to be Jesus in the world today!

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