Author Topic: The Sound of the Gospel  (Read 306 times)

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Offline Bishop Sandi

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The Sound of the Gospel
« on: March 26, 2017, 14:35:49 »
Mark 7:31-37

In today's Scripture, Jesus opens the ears and clears the speech of  a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment.  It is one of the healing miracles that are so prevalent in the Gospel of Mark, who, being a physician, directs special attention to healing miracles.

Mark, unlike the other gospel writers, presents a Jesus who is different...who is not politically correct, who can be a little rough around the edges, and who addresses issues head on.  In other gospels, Jesus seems more polite, more gentle, more loving, but in Mark's gospel, Jesus is strong, forceful, powerful in ways that aren't expressed elsewhere in quite the same fashion.

In Mark's gospel, this Jesus comes to us not just as a teacher (rabbi).  He comes to us as one who works hard to get God's message across.  He lives among a hard working people and HE does a lot of hard work in reaching out.  Mark makes it painfully clear that Jesus comes to do combat with the forces of darkness.

William Stringfellow, a New York lawyer once preached a message on the powers and principalities at work in the world around us, evil forces who would draw us away from Christ by causing us to fall in love with the things of this world.  He was asked to speak to a well known university ministerial school with that message.  As he arrived at the university, an invitation to also speak to the business school was delivered to him.  Not having the opportunity to write an entirely different talk for the school of business, he decided that he would just have to deliver the same message.  So he spoke first the the theological school about the powers and principalities of darkness.  Then he delivered the same talk to the school of business.

Interestingly enough, the theology professors and their students "pooh poohed" Mr. Stringfellow's message.  But the professors in the school of business and their students accepted it.  They had seen the red fangs of Wall Street and they knew all too well the affects that loving money and attempts at financial gain had on people's souls.

Have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?  It stems from a bank robbery that occurred in Stockholm, where hostages were taken.  Once the police were able to get into the bank and free the hostages, they noted a strange thing had happened.  The hostages had developed a strange admiration, a strange affection for their captors.  They had almost "fallen in love" with the criminals involved and were concerned for their welfare.

The same thing has happened in the church.  We are no longer "In the world but not of it.". Instead, we have fallen in love with things the world has to offer us and believe wrongfully that everything offered to us is good, is a blessing of God, and should be claimed.  We have accepted a prosperity theology.  We have come to believe the "best" is always best for us.  We look upon those who work harder than us as somehow "stricken by God" and those who struggle as somehow "deserving" their plight because of something they may have done.  We no longer understand what it means to be content in every situation.  We have "fallen in love" with things of this world that hold us captive and command our time, our energy, our commitment in order to appear successful.  And William Stringfellow's message echoes...."Beware the principalities and powers at work!".

We in the church no longer speak of principalities and powers through they exist on both the side of God and the side of Satan.  We don't want to acknowledge an enemy.  We would rather mouth "Praise Jesus!" rather than plead "Please, please Jesus!".  We chant "Peace, peace" when there is no peace and cry "Victory, victory" without fighting.

But understand...EVERY story in the Bible is a story of deliverance from demonic principalities and powers!  Every attack against God's children stems from these.  And it is not a "gentle" Jesus but a "POWER FILLED Jesus" Who frees His children. 

Think for a moment about just two other stories.  The storm on the sea....Jesus had some terrified disciples....but Jesus REBUKED the storm and it ceased.  It didn't cease due to a gentle statement, but due to a STRONG COMMAND.  Again, when Jesus had told the disciples that they were going up to Jerusalem where He would die, it was Peter (dear foot in mouth Peter) who pretty much says, "Lord, don't let it go THAT far!".  And what does Jesus do?  Well, He chucks Peter on the chin and mutters "Oh Peter, I understand.  It's ok.", right?  Wrong.  He recognizes the principalities and powers at work...the lie that Peter believes.  What lie...."God would never ask our LIFE.  God would never ask that great a sacrifice from anyone."  But Jesus is here for JUST that purpose..  Jesus says "Get thee behind Me Satan!" and moves on to His destiny, bringing with Him disciples who yet do not understand the call of God upon their Master or upon their own individual lives.  They do not yet understand that the call of God requires unswerving obedience and incredible sacrifice.

We can look at today's story two different ways.  We can look at it in the conventional ways.  It was a conventional healing.  That's true.  And if we look at it that way, we are not totally wrong.  It certainly allows us to feel sorrow for all the man has gone through.  We can feel joy in the outcome.  We may even be inspired to reach out and do our own simple acts of mercy on behalf of others.

BUT...what if we look at it the way Mark looks at it.  Mark looks behind the scenes and teaches us new lessons.  Mark sees a man who is disabled just like we all are.  It isn't that he can't hear his wife call to him or his children's laughter at play.  It isn't that he can't hear the rising chants of Torah in the synagogue.  It's that he cannot truly HEAR in the spiritual sense.

The man cannot HEAR the sound of the gospel...grace, love, mercy, forgiveness, healing, deliverance....and because he cannot hear it, he also CANNOT SPEAK it. 

Let's look at the voice of consumerism in our society for instance.  I know what the gospel tells me about consumerism.  I know that it tells me to live simply and humbly.  I know that THINGS don't matter as much as a relationship with God or as much as touching lives in the name of Christ.  But when I'm standing in Best Buy and I see that 60 inch flat screen on sales, still at a ridiculous price, I discover the draw of powers and principalities that lie to me, telling me that I "need" it, that I "deserve" it, that "all your friends have one", even that "You can use it to show powerful Christian videos to your small group." (The powers and principalities don't care if they give me a good "Christian" argument as long as I fall prey).

I know what the gospel tells me about trouble.  It tells me my God cares and will deliver me.  But when I'm in the midst of it, the voices of the powers and principalities lie to me and make me feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and I start to worry and scramble for a way out instead of trusting God.

I know what the gospel says about hope....you do too.  We believe that there is hope for our future, for blessing and propering rather than being harmed.  But when we look at the state of the world?  Come on now....we worry, we doubt, even if only a little bit.  See what I mean?  The voices are lying. 

I'm like that man centuries abo.  I know what the gospel says.  I just can't HEAR it.  And because I can't hear it, I CAN'T SPEAK it to others effectively either.

What I need is a miracle. 

Jesus didn't just say, "Son, hear."  He thrust His fingers into the man's ears and spit on his tongue and commanded "Ephphatha" (be opened).  THEN the man heard and could speak.

I need Jesus to come into my life POWERFULLY....with THAT kind of forcefulness and so thrust Himself into my existence that I can finally HEAR AND SPEAK all that the real gospel tells me... so that I can live a full life with Him.

Lord, cause us to HEAR AND SPEAK! Amen!