Feb 26, 2012
Focus Reading: Mark 8:31-38 SUBSCRIBE ON ITUBES
I wish I hadn’t done it my way.
One year at Tannum Sands I made up a series of Symbols to place on a board for each Sunday in Lent. I didn’t have a big enough board, so I made my own. I cut up some wood with the only saw I had – a pruning saw. I tried banging in the only nails I had with my hammer – a tack hammer. This did not work because my nails were short thick galvanised nails. So I used a house brick. The wood split. The board somehow held together. It kind of worked BUT the whole thing had taken me hours and hours. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had to do it and I had to do it my way. It was a total waste of time, when there were at least three people in the church who could have done it far quicker and far better. Today Peter wants Jesus to do things his way. Jesus on the other hand does things God’s way and invites us to join with him. Jesus’ way was to trust God and not to try to preserve his own life, or do things his own way. To deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Jesus, probably doesn’t mean we’ll come to a sticky end like Him. It does mean that we have to trust God with our lives and not do things our way. That’s costly but it also means new life, now and beyond the grave.
Questions for Thought or discussion:
Can you think of a time when you shouldn't have done it you way? What would have been different if you'd done it someone else's way? What are the differences between self denial self sacrifice? What stops us from trusting God with our lives?
Let’s do it “God’s Way”
It's very difficult to judge whether you are successful as a minister... numbers.... can't measure people's souls.... All of us including ministers tend to want to prove themselves to be good & right. We want to feel that we are somehow responsible for what others do. I want to believe that somehow I am responsible for the successes & failures of the congregation. It’s not just ministers - teachers also feel that they need to control their students. They feel that they need to be in charge. If their students fail they feel that they have failed. This is despite the fact that the overwhelming amount of evidence shows... A good teacher or minister can make a real difference but... And an even more extreme case is with Children will often feel they are responsible if their parents divorce!
But this is not just true for teachers... Each of us wants to be like Frank Sinatra in his song “I did it my way”. We want to be in control, in control of our lives, in control of others and even in control of God and our salvation. We want to go our own way and be the masters and makers of our own destinies and futures.
A wonderful example of this is the board I made.... I had to be in control... I had to do it my way...
That's what's happening in today's reading. Jesus wants to go God (the Father's) way but Peter wants to go Peter's way. And Peter also wants Jesus to go Peter's way as well.
We can't really blame Peter - he has just realized that Jesus might be the one the prophets had promised....
Instead Jesus says that he must suffer, be betrayed and die, I don't know if Peter heard or understood the rising again bit, but whatever he heard this was not the way Peter had imagined it. Perhaps he imagined a great military victory... perhaps he imagined Jesus wowing the leaders, convincing them....
Whatever he imagined it didn't involve death & suffering. That's not the way. He tells Jesus off. He tells him it must never be like that. It's not right.
But Jesus knows it is right!! He knows it is right, because he knows that it is what God the Father wants. So Jesus tells Peter off. He says he's acting like a devil - like a little kid who wants to go his own way. Like Satan, the tempter tempting Jesus in the wilderness. He's thinking in a really human way. He’s thinking like all of us sometimes think. He’s thinking like Frank Sinatra - He wants to say to Jesus and to himself - Do it my way.
But the message to Peter and to us is “NO”, if you want to follow Jesus, you have to forget about what you want, take up your cross and follow him.
Now it might be really stupid to go our own way. It might be really stupid to make a board... But this sounds worse!! For Jesus it involves suffering and death. Jesus placing his life in God's hands leads to the cross.
But when Like Peter, all we can see is the suffering we are forgetting at least three things.
First we are forgetting who God is. Jesus' who I believe and the church has believed through the millennia is God's Son, has known the Love and goodness of God the Father through all eternity, so he has the advantage over us there. But like Peter we have the witness of God's people through the ages in the Bible - we know...Egypt... sent the prophets... rescued the people from exile in B... rebuilt the temple... This is the God who asks us to go his way and not our own way. When we are asked to deny ourselves, what we are primarily being asked is to trust God and God’s goodness & not to trust in ourselves or to trust in things like power.... We are not being asked to nail ourselves to a cross, to beat ourselves up, to tie ourselves up in guilt, to put ourselves down.... Instead we are being asked to trust in our Loving God and place our lives in his hands instead of trying to save ourselves or others and do it our way.
So first we must remember God is loving and trust in that love. Second we are forgetting the good part of what Jesus said. “I'm going to be betrayed suffer and die”, we hear. But we don't hear “I will be raised to new life”. You must deny yourself, you must take up your cross, you must lose your life, we hear that, but we fail to hear that we will gain new life! We hear a depressing call to wowserism and asceticism but we fail to hear the wonderful call to new life.
First we remember that God is love and we trust God, not ourselves. Second we remember that Jesus spoke of new life and was raised - he did not just speak of suffering and death. The third thing we fail to hear is that we are to take up OUR and not Jesus' cross. There are Christians, who because they placed their lives in the hands of God, like Jesus died the most horrible of deaths. But the vast majority of the millions and billions of Christians who have ever lived have died of perfectly natural causes. And not only that they lived wonderfully fulfilled and rich lives of purpose and hope. Quality research shows that people who practice their faith... Yes because we are Christians there will be some suffering. We may have to stand up for our faith and pay a price. There may be suffering, there will be a price but much more importantly we also receive love, healing, forgiveness and new life!
The most important thing to remember is that denying ourselves is not sacrificing ourselves. Instead it is following Jesus in what he did. As I’ve said in a previous sermon what Jesus did was not to sacrifice himself. Instead he denied himself - he placed his life in God’s hands, this meant for him, death on the cross, but it also meant new life. Denying ourselves is placing our lives in the hands of our loving God and not doing it our way.
So many people today, want to go their own way. They are desperately trying to prove their own value. They are wearing themselves out trying to make their own way up to heaven. Or in their own strength they are trying to save the church, or the world or their family or whatever. The message of today's reading is that you don't have to do that. You can give up your struggle. You don't have to wear yourself out trying to make yourself rig
over eleven years ago
The message of today's reading is that you don't have to do that. You can give up your struggle. You don't have to wear yourself out trying to make yourself right. You don't have to do it your way. Instead all you have to do is trust your life to our loving God and accept that God does it God's way. The same God who rased Jesus from the dead calls us to place our lives in his loving hands.