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What is wrong with us?
Well, The whole passage screams to us – it’s the heart, the heart, The heart of our problem is the problem of our heart.
The way that we hold on to God is by gazing at the God who has taken hold of us. That’s what Hebrews 2 is going to show us: Salvation is about being taken hold of by Jesus.
At it’s heart, this letter that reads like a sermon fixes our eyes on the glory of Jesus and exhorts us, for the sake of our freedom and joy, to keep looking at Him!
Statistics show that all of us pray at some time. Some of us only pray occasionally when we are in a crisis. Others of us pray a little more frequently. But none of us would say we pray a lot. We are slow to pray. But why? If God is your father and you are his child why wouldn’t you come to God in prayer? There’s only one answer.
It’s the oldest lie in the world. The one that the serpent used in the garden of eden. A lie that runs deep. The lie that God is not good; that he’s mean and doesn’t answer our prayers. Our trials and sufferings and seeming unanswered prayers seem to back up the lie and so we feel that God says, 'No' alot.. And so we don’t pray.
Jesus realizes this might be an objection to us praying and so in v5-8 he gives us a parable to motivate us to pray by seeing that God will answer when we pray because He must!
Prayer is a struggle – sometimes we don’t desire to pray, or our prayers seem to go unanswered so long that we lose heart. We don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to pray.
Jesus gives us a framework for prayer. More crucially there are deep reasons to pray within the framework. Thousands of books written on prayer to help us pray. One of the most prominent recently was spiritual writer, Anne Lamott’s book on prayer entitled. Help, Thanks, Wow: The three essential prayers.
Jesus’ pattern of prayer is a little different. And, good as Lamott’s writing is, Jesus’ is the pattern worth following.
Jesus’ pattern is WOW, sorry, please
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ [Jesus] said to them, ‘When you pray, say: “Father..."
this is the foundation of all prayer. Father
Jesus doesn’t begin with whats or hows but with who. If we are ever to truly pray it is not subjects or methods that we need. We need to know who it is that we are invited to pray to..
The only dynamic in the world that can motivate this kind of living and loving is Grace.
In other words - You will never show radical mercy until you have received radical mercy. This is what Jesus is trying to teach the Lawyer here. And it’s what he would teach us. The power to show radical mercy springs from the heart understanding that you, yes you, have been shown radical mercy. You have been the recipient of radical grace, love, help.
Every disciple of jesus is given a message to publicly proclaim, to communciate urging everyone to believe it.
This of course is an incredibly hot issue in our society -
Anyone claiming that they have the Truth; saying that their religion is superior and trying to convert people to it is considered at best arrogant and at worst dangerous. The divisiveness of religion is seen as a major threat to world peace.
And to a certain degree - that fear is absolutely right. There clearly is a danger that religion and ideology can play into the negative human tendencies towards superiority and separation. looking down your nose at ’them’ can lead to the marginalisation of others which can in turn lead to oppression, abuse or even violence against them.
Our modern society’s solution to this problem is to seek to control religion, to privatise religion and silence the religious. We as western Christians feel this pressure very keenly and largely we bow to it. We are silenced; we bow to the dogma that it’s fine to believe what you want to believe as long as you don’t try to persuade or convert anybody else..
But - as we shall see in a bit there are deep internal contradictions and problems with this dogma.
We shall see in this passage that Christian disciples ARE messengers. It cannot be avoided. We are
sent on a Mission
with a Message
and yet it is our Motivation that will affect the whole way we go about our mission and ensure that we are never contributors to oppression or abuse of others ..
Money is a spiritual issue. The way we think about money and what we do with our money is unavoidably linked to our spiritual life and growth - to our happiness! Jesus said you cannot love both God and money. Whether you’re rich and you have loads of it or poor and you don’t have any, the love of money will suffocate your relationship with God. money. It’s a spiritual issue.