Hello, my friends. I’m sorry it took me a little longer to post than I expected. My Wed. night sisters are waiting for some study questions for the week, so I’ll give them below. First, though, I would like to say that I encountered something last night that echoed our last discussion in an interesting way.
I was re-watching a video I have on the life of St. Patrick. Those of you who know me well, know that I love St. Patrick’s Day. After all, how many holidays do we have to celebrate the impact of world missions? And that is the significance of Patrick, who was the first person in Europe to successfully carry the gospel to people outside the Roman Empire. The Irish were considered to be barbarians and beneath the notice of Roman Christians. Patrick, however, a Roman Briton by birth (they weren’t English then), had been kidnapped and enslaved in western Ireland. When he finally escaped and returned home, he could not forget the Irish people. He could escape slavery, but he could not escape the call of God to love his one-time oppressors. So Patrick returned to Ireland and began one of the most successful ministries in the history of the Church.
Then he faced a crisis that came like a nightmare out of his own past. Some of his new Irish converts were captured by Briton Christians, and taken as slaves. Patrick, no doubt still scarred by his own similar experience, angrily wrote to the Briton king, Coroticus, to demand that he release his fellow Christians and send them home. Coroticus laughed off the demand, and the Briton priests refused to take any action at all. Patrick then wrote an angry letter denouncing not only Coroticus, but any leader in the church who sided with him against the Irish Christians. The priests on the receiving end of his attack promptly set about to destroy Patrick’s ministry. A hearing was convened to judge Patrick’s fitness as a bishop to lead the Church in Ireland. The worst moment came when Patrick (still in Ireland) learned that an old friend had revealed a dark secret from Patrick’s past – a sin that Patrick had committed before his conversion that he had confessed in secret to a trusted Christian brother. In response to this public embarrassment, Patrick wrote a document called The Confession of St. Patrick, which told the story of his life and the purpose of his ministry.
What jumped out to me about the story this time around was a statement by one of the experts interviewed. She said something to the effect that Patrick’s fellow clergymen didn’t understand that Patrick’s ministry came out of his own faith experience, but that they ought to have understood as men of faith. In other words, Christians ought to be able to recognize when someone’s service to God comes out of the pain or sin or hardship that person has experienced in the past. When a fellow believer’s miserable past becomes a blessed and thriving ministry, we should immediately recognize the redeeming work of Christ in that life and celebrate it. Instead, like Simon the Pharisee, we sometimes look in disapproval on the repentant person weeping at Jesus’ feet. Is the over-the-top enthusiasm a turn off? Does the expensive perfume poured on Jesus’ feet seem tacky or gaudy? I’m thinking of a precious saint I knew, now in heaven, who had been a Hell’s Angel before his conversion. The first thing he did after his conversion was to get himself thrown out of the Johnson City Mall because he was standing at the escalator telling every single person who passed what Jesus had done in his life. Like the immoral woman, he had been forgiven much, and he loved much in return.
With that in mind, here are the questions for next Wed. night:
1. Read 1 John 1:5-10. According to verse 5, who sets the standard for holiness? How do we compare when measured against His purity? What do verses 8 & 10 tell us about those who look down on the sinfulness of others?
2. Read 1 John 2:8-11. What is the new commandment that John is writing about? What do light and darkness represent in these verses?
3. Read 1 John 3:7-12. How has God’s love been revealed to us? How can we demonstrate our love for a God that we can’t see? Verse 8 suggests that there is one “family trait” that all Christians have in common. What is it?
4. Read 1 John 5:1-5. This passage ties obedience to overcoming the world (and sin). Is there something that God has given you the power to overcome? How might God be asking you to use this victory for His service?
5. Read I John 5:13-15. It would be impossible to think of serving God, without the promise of these verses. What is the condition for having our prayers answered? What do you think is the connection between having the love of God in our hearts and asking according to His will?