“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 22, NO. 46&47 – MISTAKEN IDENTITY
Few if any of us develop our faith and understanding of scripture in a vacuum. We are taught what to believe almost before we can read and study it for ourselves.
In the last twenty some years I have found myself seeing this more and more in the way I have applied scripture..
The change in understanding for me was helped by being around Jerry Sumney while they were here. I remember quoting some scripture and applying it in a literal sense. I looked at Jerry, as I usually did, after all, he had a Ph.D. in New Testament, and I saw him frown slightly and shake his head. Jerry was not one to counter a person’s view unless it was really bad. So I went back and looked at the scripture I’d quoted and I didn’t see anything wrong. Then I looked again, from a non literal angle and I found it was much more in harmony with the overall teaching of the New Testament. It was really liberating.
I was reading an article in a little paper that comes to the church, and in it the author was denouncing denominations. At one point he said “The Pharisees were the most prominent denomination among the Jews of the time. But even a powerful sect as was the Pharisees represented no more than blind guides leading the blind.” Of course, he gave a passage to prove Jesus said that. This guy no doubt believes all Muslims are terrorists.
My question, other than the false assumption that all Pharisees were “blind guides”, would be, “Who were the nondenominational Jews?” I’m sure he placed the Sadducees as the less prominent group. So, who were the ones doing it right? Jesus went to synagogue and the temple. There were no “independents”. You either believed in the resurrection of the dead, (Pharisee) or you did not (Sadducee). In Matthew 23:2-4 Jesus says, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you.” So apparently Jesus was a Pharisee by definition and was a member of that “denomination”. Which is not to say he did not understand the Sadducees who rejected the resurrection on the basis that it was not taught in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
This article is about how we look at scripture, so lets look at another one. In oft quoted Mark 10:29,30, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecution, and in the age to come, eternal life.”
In my “literal” days I took that literally. After all, Jesus said it! Then it didn’t seem to be working out that way and I heard folks start to “spiritualize” it. A Christian would have a new family, lots of mothers and fathers and siblings. Houses would be open to them, they would go to many lands spreading the gospel. Fine, but that’s not what Jesus said. He said it would be houses and lands. So, what else could he mean?
The context is the one we call the “rich young ruler”. He had a money problem. Jesus said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God”. The disciples were perplexed and Peter said, “We have left everything to follow you!” Why that question? Because Peter, like all the folks of his day believed in getting a reward for doing the right thing. Rich people were rich because they were doing the right thing. If Jesus is being literal it is stark contrast to his life and his teaching about possessions. So we have to conclude he is teaching something else.
Jesus’ life was lived not to achieve any reward, but as he says, “For the sake of the gospel.” So, it fits better if we see his statement about houses, families and lands, as an exaggerated statement to call attention to the fact that such things are not to be sought as a reward for doing what is “for the sake of the gospel”. Jesus didn’t have to aim at a heavenly mansion or for eternal life. Living for the sake of the gospel guarantees them. Living from faith in eternal life for Christ’s sake is a far cry from living to gain eternal life and other possessions. That gets too close at attempting religious shrewdness, and that always fails
Mistaken identity brings about false convictions.
Polly Altice’ death before Thanksgiving ended a long battle with several illnesses. However, she was as spunky a few days before she died as she ever was.
This was Polly’s church. She probably brought more people with her than any of us. And, the people she brought were the kind of people we need to see in church. They were, for the most part, the “down-and-outs” who found at Polly’s house a place to crash for awhile.
Someone commented at her funeral that even though she lived about a block from the Rescue Mission, she had her own little mission on the hill.
She never had much and never complained about not having more. She was fiercely independent, but knew she could ask us for help when the need surpassed her ability to handle it. The money she gathered from collecting aluminum cans made up her contribution to the church, much like the widow’s two pennies. She taught us much and we will miss her strong faith and positive attitude.
ADULT CHRISTMAS PARTY
December 18 will be this year’s adult Christmas Party. The theme this year is “Be Merry”. It has been suggested that the gifts for the gift exchange be from local, or at least regional merchants to help the local economy. The gifts should be in the five dollar plus range.
The appetizers will be served about 5:30 and the meal at about 6:00. Chef Jeff has arraigned for the meat dish. There will be recipes passed out. A sign-up sheet is on the table in the foyer. Let it be known as soon as possible if you plan to attend.
Zona Fisher’s other brother, Tim Wade has also died of cancer. This is just a few weeks after her other brother, Roger died. Tim was in Georgia. Grave side services were held at Mt View in Vinton on Thursday. Also, Judy McWhorter’s uncle died. The funeral was in New Hampshire.
This is the first of two Sundays we will collect for helping the folks in Haiti. It will be sent to a group that’s helping rebuild.
If you haven’t checked on your directory info, please do so today
VOYAGES OF THE DAWN TRADER
The young folks will be attending the showing of the new Chronicles of Narna movie on Saturday, Dec.11. Everyone is invited. See Erma for advanced tickets.
YOUTH LUNCHEON & TREE TOUR
On Sunday, Dec. 12, the young folks will eat together and then go to the Hotel Roanoke for a tour of the Christmas Trees. Parents are welcome.
Judy Hall is calling all knitters to help make scarves to be given to school children. She has the material and is ready to go.
CONCERNS: First the good news. Mary Smith is much improved as is their neighbor. So is Sheila Robertson’s mother as well as Ron and Joyce Matney. T. J. Hall is recovering from illness. The Hall’s neighbor has cancer, Pray for him. Both Joanne Elder and Erma Williams are unemployed. Joni Beach’s mother is dealing with cancer, as is Connie Crites father. Zona Fisher’s niece (cancer).Mike Breeding (heart problems) Helen Nicklas, Trisha, the Bolin’s friend. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Florida, (cancer) Barbara Mc Cauley, Jenni and Wilma Cullum Tim Elder, Health Talents Int. Bread For A Hungry World and the folks we are about to help in Haiti.
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 6-11
Monday: Psalm 40:1-17
Tuesday: John 8:48-59
Wednesday: Philippians 2:14-30
Thursday: Ephesians 2:1-22
Friday: John 19:1-16
Saturday: Colossians 1:3-20
OUR DAILY BREAD: DEC. 13-18
Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-42
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 14:15-24
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24