Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter and the end of Luke

Really pumped for Easter this weekend! Saw some stats that just recently were released on the how and why people come to church.

2% via advertisement/church marketing.
6% because of a pastor's invitation.
6% through a church outreach campaign.
But 86% of people who visit do so because of a FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER'S INVITATION!


So...who are you inviting?

In addition to the fact that Easter is the central, foundational moment in the Christian calendar, I'm also excited because this Sunday marks the end of our journey through the gospel of Luke. We have been making our way through this book of the Bible since December 2014!

Here's 10 things from the Gospel of Luke that have stuck with me. The First 5 are in this post. The Next 5 will come later.

1. Women are central to the Gospel
Luke does not relegate women to a secondary status in the narrative. Mary's role is prominently at the forefront of this gospel. Elizabeth, Anna, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, and so many more. The women were the last at the cross and first at the tomb. They are the first to encounter the resurrection, which is fascinating that Luke mentions this because the general belief is that women's testimony was not admissible in court. It had to be corroborated by a man's testimony. So, mentioning women as the first eye witnesses doesn't lend itself to increased credibility. So Luke mentioning it suggests it very well may have been TRUE.

2. Jesus' Identity was Everything
Before he taught, healed, rebuked, multiplied, called disciples. Before he DID anything, he was baptized and the Father said "This is my son whom I love and with whom I'm well pleased."(Luke 3) Jesus did everything out of the security of his identity. We tend to do everything to try and earn our status/identity with God. As scholarly people say, "That's Bass Ackwards".

3. Wilderness Should Be Expected
Again, before Jesus does anything worth documenting in ministry, he is taken into the wilderness for 40 days of tempting/fasting (Luke 4). It is in pain and adversity...suffering and wilderness that our character is shaped and our faith becomes resolute. Yet, for some reason, many of us think the goal of life is to avoid pain and suffering, and disregard death and dying. I have a theory. The United States is being decimated with mental health crises, particularly in the 20 and 30 something context and I think much of the anxiety and depression that is consuming a generation has to do with a really lousy approach to the wilderness.

Avoid the wilderness! Escape pain and suffering! That's supposed to be our approach. Yet, the wilderness of pain and suffering keeps creeping into our lives and the thought that it might actually be inescapable drives us to anxiety. (What if I fail? What if it hurts? What if I lose something or someone? What if I'm not good enough? What if I'm not loved?) Anxiety exists because we have a sneaking suspicion that suffering, pain, adversity and failure are not in our control. Then depression comes in when we realize we can't escape it. The pain and suffering, wilderness and hurt are a guarantee ("In this world, you will have trouble...") So depression comes in because we have no capacity or competence on how to handle pain, suffering and the dark night of the soul.

The wilderness should be expected and it should be embraced because the places of breakthrough and freedom are found there.

4. His Mission is Our Mission
He announced his ministry (Luke 4) by reading the Isaiah scroll and declaring the year of the Lord's favor. He came to bring freedom, good news, release. If we aren't joining him in active, tangible ways in the world, we have to at least ask if we have strayed toward another mission.

5. The 5 Capitals are obvious in Luke
Spiritual Capital...Jesus walked in wisdom and power (Luke 3 and attention to the role of the Spirit)
Relational Capital...Jesus called the disciples to be a family on mission (Luke 5)
Physical Capital...Jesus invests time and healing into people (Luke 6-9)
Intellectual Capital...Jesus begins teaching in depth about the Kingdom of God, using parables to get his point across. (Luke 10-17)
Financial Capital...Jesus initiates more and more conversations about money and how it should be used (Luke 18-19)

The order of these capitals is everything. The Academic world tries to make Intellectual capital the primary capital. Capitalism tries to make financial capital the primary capital. Fitness and diet cultures try to make Physical capital the primary capital. But the church is the one place that has the potential to get the capitals in the right order of influence. Love God and love neighbors. (Spiritual and Relational). Start there the let the lest fall into place.

6 through 10 to come later!

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