We Are God’s

We Are God’s

Twenty-third Sunday After Pentecost

Go to Start of Sermon

Service Booklet

This Sunday’s Readings

Gospel: Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ 29Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 31The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ 32Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; 33and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ 34When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Afterthoughts: God’s Possession

As I said last Sunday, the reading from Mark this week took me by surprise.
Part of the Jewish establishment
(a scribe and mostly likely a Pharisee) agreed with Jesus.
I had to read it again.
Mostly because the “Us versus Them” narrative is so engrained in our culture.
But, it shouldn’t be this way for people of faith.
Because we have no stake in competing for that which is not ours.
Meaning, we get drawn into squabbles that matter not for God’s people.

Two passages that come to mind are:

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”

Matthew 22

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6

Both of these are directly encouraging us to see the world as we should
and understand our place in it.

And it all boils down to our idea of what is “ours.”

An “Us against them” narrative won’t survive
if we truly understand what is ours.

Last Sunday I stated that we are God’s possession.
This is a phrase that comes from the Old Testament
and resurfaces in 1 Peter 2:9,

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

The NRSV translates God’s own people but the Greek is a little more direct on the implication. The Greek translates it “A people for possession.”

This is a difficult concept to wrap our heads around.
How do we understand ourselves as “A people for possession?”
And, what does that look like when manifested?

Well, Jesus communicates this idea a lot.
“You cannot be My disciple unless….”
“You hate your father and mother.”
“Take up your cross and follow Me.”
“Give up everything we have.”

Discipleship requires sacrifice.
And the main part we must sacrifice is ourselves.

Not our brain (lest we quit thinking).
Not our talents (lest we quit living into our being).
Not our emotions (lest we cease caring and feeling deeply in this life).

But our rights to ourselves.
That’s why slave/servant language is used a lot in referring to God’s people.
And Scripture goes on to say things like,

“For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:20

Yes, cost was involved in our salvation.
It didn’t come lightly.
And this is an ontological change in many ways,
Not the least of which is our very life.

It’s why Paul states,

For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:19-20

And if our life is not our own,
Meaning not ours to own,
Then it should bring us a new perspective.
And keep us from getting sucked into the drama of this world.

It’s what marks kingdom thinking.
Like, when we pray,

“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done”

in the Lord’s Prayer.
And also when Paul says,

I am not ashamed of the gospel,
for it is the power of God to bring all unto salvation.”

Romans 1:16

And if we are focused on kingdom thinking,
Then we will understand that there is a purpose to our possession.

Let’s look at the 1 Peter 2:9 passage again,

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

The purpose is a witnessing, through our lives,
of the great things God has done.

Which will have nothing to do with the drama of the world.

But will have everything to do with being a peaceful presence to the world we live in.

By centering our minds on the “Great cloud of witnesses” that have run this race before us.
By loving God through our worship of Him.
By loving others as an outward manifestation of that worship.

Let us be that blessing to the world around us today.