the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Can You Change the Mind of God?

Scripture: Matthew 15:21-28

How inviting are we? How wide are the doors of our Church? Is there place in our Church for everyone? We know and profess that God is the Father of all people. We believe and announce that Jesus died for everyone and all. Yet, is that the reality? We even look down on other Christians, and at times on other Baptists too, because they do not honor the Lord in exactly the same way as we do. Let us ask the Lord of all to help us do away with all discrimination and with him to make us open to all.

What do we think of aliens and strangers and how do we treat them? What is our attitude toward people who are different? The Christian position should be one of acceptance and welcome, for this is God's attitude. All are God's children, and he wants the happiness of all. He calls all to his house and wants it to be a house of prayer for all. With Christ, let us welcome all.

I owe Dylan Breuer at for these thoughts:

Three forces that keep us from understanding God's will for our lives"
1. The conviction that you are already fully aware of what God wants.

2. The conviction that you don't need to listen to certain people or groups, bcause they are not as enlightened as I am.
Ananias was sent by God to a man who was a known persecuter of Christians. What if he had said to himself, "God doesn't need people like that?"

3. The conviction that if you knew what God wanted before, that no further instructions were necessary.

Jesus is confronted by a woman who calls out to him demanding help. Jesus doesn't respond.

Jesus' culture was a shame culture. In a shame-culture, social mores revolves around the related ideas of honor, duty, country, glory, loyalty, name, praise, and reputation. It is very much concerned with group-identity. Paradigm cases are the Iliad, the Indian caste-system, imperial Japan, Chivalry, and the Mafia.

Warrior-cultures are shame-cultures. This extends to certain subcultures that are either genuine warrior- cultures (e.g., the military), or quasi-militaristic (e.g., street gangs, professional sports).

Another commonplace of anthropology is to distinguish between ascribed and achieved status. Tribal cultures are shame-cultures. You have an ascribed status that is assigned to you by birth—by your place in the clan. However, it is also possible, through honor or dishonor, to acquire an achieved status that either raises or lowers your ascribed status.

Calling out to Jesus in public as she did was a very provocative act. It put Jesus in a position of ignoring her or appearing to the crowd that she was either an equal or a superior. At first He ignores her.

But she is persistent. She is making a public spectacle of herself and is becoming an embarassment, which is felt by the disciples. The disciples want Jesus to make her go away. But Jesus says he is only called to minister to the lost house of Israel. The Woman of course, is a Gentile.

Persistently she approaches Jesus and literally begs him to help her. And in the exchange that follows, Jesus' mind is changed. His choosing to listen and to heal cost him his honor in the eyes of the crowd. But in so doing he demonstrated how we should seek the will of God.

Knowing God's will is not about certainty. Especially not when certainty threatens to over ride compassion.

Knowing God's will is not about knowing who not to listen to. Jesus gave us the example in our lesson today that all people are worthy of our attention.

And once we think we understand God's will for our lives, that doesn't mean that that is all he calls us to do. Jesus answered God's call to go to the lost souls of the house of Israel. But Jesus was sensitive enough to the ever changing will of God that he heard the call to minister to all people.

Jesus' understanding of God's will was to enter into relationship with people. Real relationship with others is what love, real love, is all about. As our scriptures testify: God is Love. And God is changed in loving relationship.

We are taught to ignore the homeless. Don't look them in the eye. Whatever you do, don't speak to them. Pass by ignoring them and their pleas for a handout. We train ourselves to see them as objects, not real people.

This woman was so convinced that Jesus could save her daughter that she believed only the crumbs from the master's table, the leftovers, would be sufficient to save her.

Here was the incarnate son of God, so powerful he could have caused this woman to hush. He could have sent her to to top of some mountain far away. He could have struck her dead on the spot. But exercising Divine Power was not what Jesus was about. Jesus' message, the good news, the Gospel, is that God is Love, God is compassionate. Or what was the cross for?

Did Jesus change his mind because the woman was persistent? Yes.

Did Jesus change his mind because of her Faith? Yes.

Did he change his mind because he is a compassionate and loving God? Yes, Yes, Yes.

Abraham changed God's mind about the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah. Moses changed God's mind about the destruction of the Israelites in the Wilderness. All through appeals rooted in the love of people.

We look at others less fortunate than we and say "There, but for the Grace of God, go I." Do we mean that these people do not have the Grace of God, as we do? Do we not feel compassion and even pain when we see the down-trodden?

Written by Bobby Austin and Thomas Sapaugh.
(© Airefield Music / Glen Campbell Music Inc. / Songs Of Windswept Pacific.)
From "Glen Campbell's Twenty Golden Greats", © 1987, EMI Records.

If you see your brother standing by the road,
With a heavy load from the seeds he sowed.
And if you see your sister falling by the way,
Just stop and say: "Well, you're goin' the wrong way."

Well, you've got to try a little kindness,
Yes, show a little kindness.
Yes, shine your light for everyone to see.
And if you try a little kindness,
Then you'll overlook the blindness,
Of the narrow minded people,
On the narrow minded streets.

Don't walk around the down and out,
Lend a helping hand instead of doubt.
And the kindness that you show every day,
Will help someone along their way.

Well, you've got to try a little kindness,
Yes, show a little kindness.
Yes, shine your light for everyone to see.
And if you try a little kindness,
Then you'll overlook the blindness,
Of the narrow minded people,
On the narrow minded streets.

You've got to try a little kindness,
Yes, Lord, show a little kindness.
Yes, shine your light for everyone to see.
And if you try a little kindness,
Then you'll overlook the blindness,
Of narrow minded people,
On the narrow minded streets.


Blogger Bad Alice said...

Thank you for this, a message I need to hear this morning following a devotion about the Sovereign God, who I'm told does not change His mind. I've listened to people twist themselves into pretzels over this, when it seems that so many verses of the Bible show a God willing to be influenced by his creation. Thank you again.

8/25/2005 9:35 AM  

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