These Are Literally My Sermon Leftovers
What follows are several copy/pasted excerpts from my studies for last Sunday's sermon. Of course, they are a little out of context and some are more devotional than exegetical. However, they might be interesting to some.
I struggled this week with whether or not to address the issue of racial reconciliation. It's not obviously tied to this passage, but I think Jesus' heart for the excluded and the oppressed naturally leads to that discussion. At the end of the day, I felt it more important to make a clear gospel presentation which meant some of my thoughts on racism, #blacklivesmatter, and inclusiveness ended up on the cutting room floor. I'm sure they'll resurface down the road.
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Excerpts from My Study
- People usually want good things for their children. This helps us understand God our Father. It helps us understand the importance of being good parents. It helps us identify our important role of passing a better life AND a better faith to the next generation
- Jesus was indignant with the disciples because they didn't value the children and they didn't value the parents. Jesus' followers must value everyone!
- The term "indignant" (Jesus' response to the disciples) literally means to be "overwhelmed with anger." God has no patience for those who mistreat others.
- Little children don’t have the preconceived notions and experiential assumptions that often keep us from recognizing simple truth.
- Jesus said the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are childlike, not those who seize it through politics and power-plays.
- Through his words and actions, Jesus communicates how important the “least of these” are to God.
- Opening your arms to those who are oppressed or rejected is like opening your arms to Jesus (Matthew 25:40).
- The disciples thought the most important thing happening was Jesus’ teaching and healing. Jesus knew the most important thing happening was his interaction with people from all backgrounds.
- Jesus’ arms are open wide to everyone. His blessings are available to everyone.
- There is something in this passage that speaks to much of the social division we are experiencing in our country currently. The disciples seem to be telling the parents that their children's lives don't matter. Should we ever tell anyone that their life doesn't matter?
The Sermon I Didn't Preach
Regarding racism and reconciliation, I found the following "spectrum" of positions on race helpful. This is pulled from a Rick Warren sermon. I offer it without comment. It was part of my study for the sermon although it didn't make it into Sunday's final notes.
These are seven different descriptions of people's approach to racial issues. None of us live at one of these, we likely drift between two or three of them. Rick pointed out that we cannot accurately assess where we belong on this scale. We need to allow those around us to help us identify where we might be.
- Racist -- hates, bullies, discriminates against other races
- Bigot -- believes stereotypes and belittles other races
- Avoider -- uncomfortable around other races
- Insensitive -- unaware of what is hurtful to other races (we don't get to decide what hurts other people)
- Apathetic -- just doesn't care about race issues (if you claim to be a follower of Christ you have to care about fairness, justice, love & reconciliation)
- Sensitive -- kind and inclusive to other races
- Reconciler -- active builder of bridges to other races (God has given us the message of reconciliation -- it is reflective of the heart of God)