How Not To Avoid People

“How Not To Avoid People”
--from January 28th  --

Day 1

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Paul is writing in the book of 2 Corinthians to a church that he helped to found.  In 1 Corinthians, he is writing to correct some things that are pretty incredibly terrible in the church.  The way that history tells the story, they write back with more questions and then he responds again, but we don’t have that letter.  2 Corinthians would actually be 3rd or more in the order of sequence.  But we are removed enough from the original issues that Paul starts to get into some theological implications of a life with Jesus.  

The gospel saves us from our sins, but it’s active work in how we live daily in life and even build the foundations of what we believe is important for now.  It is in that line of thought that we have this idea of “ministers of reconciliation.”  To reconcile is the idea of bringing back together.  We were reconciled with God, which means we were brought back to the place we began and belonged.  But the gospel is for us, but it is also continuing out from us.  What God did for us, he intends us to aim at in bringing other people to Him.  We are ambassadors bringing people to God and bringing people back to people.  All of this has the very direct language of our text from Sunday of how we love and minister to people.  

What do you think it means to be a minister of reconciliation?

What are some ways that you could see yourself acting out in this role to others in bringing them to God?

Who are three people that need the message of reconciliation from the ministers of reconciliation, in their life around you?

How does this become your prayers today?

Day 2

Read Genesis 3:1-13
This text deserves so much of your careful attention and meditation on it.  I know you have probably read it and could tell the story, but really pay attention to how the story is told and that will only start to come alive if you read it multiple times and think on it.  
This is the story that set the stage for most of all the other stories.  It is an artistic way (that does NOT mean it's not also true!) of telling the story at the foundation of who we are as humans.  Every single day, you can tell your version of this story in your daily choices and actions.  On Sunday, we talked specifically about the reaction of Adam and Eve to the “word of God” or when God called for them after they had sinned.  They hid, they blamed others, and they revealed they had been deceived.  Think about those three responses.

How have you had a similar action in hiding when your sin has been found out in the past?
How have you blamed others for what you have experienced in life that is a result of your choices?
How have you experienced deception and traded something that God offered for something that you were convinced was better, but later learned that was not true?
How does this become your prayer today?

Day 3

Read Genesis 3:1-13

Yeah, do it again.  Read it one more time this week.  Like I said yesterday, I really think you should spend a lot of time with this story.  In the sermon on Sunday, we talked about how those three reactions to sin being found out: hiding, blaming, and being deceived, was not a deterrent to God moving closer to us.  In fact, God is constantly moving closer to people that show these traits, much like this story reveals with Adam and Eve. But we are not like that.  People frustrate us and we fear the sacrifice of our convenience that we experience when we enter into people’s chaos.  The Gospel is a different story than that.  The Gospel is a story of moving closer to broken people in an attempt to be “ministers of reconciliation.”  

When we consider the practicality of what moving closer looks like, we learn that we should do the harder thing and make the greater effort.  When I was going to react with an emoji, I now see that text is better than that.  Better than a text is a call.  Better than a call is showing up.  Better than showing up is showing up and giving help.  God gave us His word, but then He also gave us the Holy Spirit, the church, our families and so much more.  The gift of His presence in our lives is an incredible grace.  We should learn to be like God, not because we can do all that God does, but rather because in being like Him, we are bringing Him closer in the situation.  

How have you reacted to people that are hiding, blaming, and being deceived?

How should you react to people like this? Think of specific examples and people in your life right now.  

How can you make this part of your prayer today?

Share some ideas of your thoughts on the messaging app with the others reading along in these devotions.

Day 4

Read 1 John 2:16-18

In the sermon on Sunday, we referenced this passage.  In my mind, while Genesis 3 is painting a picture with the story to help us understand that way humans are, John is teaching the theology that isn’t trying to tell the story so much as it is explaining a reality.  Genesis talks about the fruit of one tree that was forbidden, while John talks about the wrestlings of the flesh vs the world.  Genesis says that Eve saw that the fruit was good to eat, pleasing to the eyes, and useful to make one wise.  John comes along and says, “Right, the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life.”  John then sums all of that up by calling it “love of the world.” 

The beauty of the gospel story is that all of those that need the gospel (that’s everyone) share the same story.  We are all broken people needing saved.  When we realize that, it humbles us to be saved, but it also humbles us to share that message with others that need to be saved.  

What do you think John is explaining with the “desires of the flesh?”

What do you think John is explaining with the “desires of the eyes?”

What do you think John is explaining with the “pride of life?”

How does this fit into your prayers today?

Day 5

Read Genesis 3:1-13 and 1 John 2:16-18

There is so much value in thinking about the implications of these passages in explaining how we are and what we do.  But the point of the sermon series has been to think about how to reach out to other people and invite them to Jesus.  The sermon’s goal this week was to remind us of how people are and why they are like that.  We have the tendency to avoid the hiding, blaming, and deceived people because of the work that would be involved in the process of caring for them.  Thankfully, this was not God’s approach to us when we were the ones hiding, blaming, and being deceived.  

Take some time now to think about how to reach those around us in this new way of understanding the problems people face.

Who are those specifically that you notice around you that are hiding, blaming, or being deceived?

What are the ways that you have reached out to them?

What are the next steps, the more work involved, the more connected way you can reach out to them this week?

How does this become your prayer today?

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