06-15-2014 The Disciples: The Sons of Zebedee

Before I forget, let me wish all of you who are reading this a very Happy Father’s Day!

We had a wonderful time in our service this week, celebrating not only our biological fathers, but also those men who have invested of themselves into the lives of others, being “father figures” to those who have really needed a strong, Christian man in their lives.  It’s amazing what a simple commitment to loving one another well can do in the lives of those around us -- and most of us will have no idea how many people we’ve really touched, simply by living out what we profess to believe.

We also had the tremendous privilege of hosting Navigators missionary Kyle Gregory this Sunday in our service as well.  Not only was he able to share with us about the new Via Affirmativa ministry which uses an appreciation for art and beauty to share the Gospel around the world, but he was also able to share his talents with the trumpet in our service (and any time that I can get to hear some classic jazz by Billy Strayhorn played as an offertory, that’s a blessing in and of itself).

Speaking of blessings, thank you to all of you who were praying for my brother, after last week’s seizure -- he’s home and doing well now.  The doctors aren’t sure what caused the seizure, but are fairly certain that it was probably due to complications from last November’s stroke.  Now if we can just go a whole week without someone from my family or the church family ending up in the hospital, that’d be great (keep yer fingers crossed and pray).

In our message this week, we continued our series on the Twelve Disciples by looking at the Sons of Thunder -- James and John.  Actually, they were the sons of a man named Zebedee, but Jesus appears to have enjoyed giving His friends nicknames to suit their attitudes and ministries (such as when He chose to start calling Simon “The Rock”).  Zebedee’s boys were all fire and fury, so the nickname was a good one for them.

These were the two who wanted to call down fire from Heaven to destroy a Samaritan town, who wanted to chastise another Christian for performing miracles that they’d assumed was their own special privilege to perform, who wanted to push the other disciples aside and demand the really good seats in the Kingdom that Jesus was going to bring about (and they even pulled their mom in to help make that case to Jesus).

Then again, there’s a good chance that they were Christ’s cousins -- that their mom was Mary’s sister -- so maybe they thought that they had a right to feel superior to everyone else.  I dunno...

Why do you and I sometimes feel like we have a right to feel superior?  To withhold love to those who don’t love us?  To withhold service to those who don’t “deserve” us serving them?  To berate those who don’t agree with us?  To be condescending to those who seem beneath us?  Oh, most of us don’t do it overtly -- more like just a roll of the eyes here or a “I’d never do it like that...” there or a hesitation to be as outreaching to one set of people as to another -- but all of us feel a little justified in feeling a little better than _________ from time to time.

So maybe we should all take a lesson from Jesus, who told His own cousins to focus on being the least, if they wanted to be the greatest.  He brought to their attention the least respected members of society, and told them that they needed to consider these “insignificant” people as being genuinely important to God.

Stop and think about your spouse -- do you consistently show them the respect that God called you to show them?  

Stop and think about your friends -- is there anyone about whom you’d be tempted to think, “I don’t want them to join us...” in your inner circle?

Stop and think about your attitudes in general -- do you let yourself feel like you’ve arrived (spiritually, socially, etc.), and others just really need to catch up?

Stop and think.  

Do you want to live like the Sons of Thunder, constantly trying to figure out just whom you're better than...?  Or do you want to live like someone whose genuine, selfless investment in the lives of everyone around them will make a positive difference long after you’re gone from this place...?