15 October 2009

Little Paxton - become empty, be filled

We were challenged to think about how Jesus always had compassion on people. We tend to discriminate between 'good' and 'bad' people; but he doesn't distinguish like that, Emptying an old pondfor him nobody is a lost cause. We all start off bad, yet if we trust him and follow him he rescues us without distinction.

Jim spoke about the pain we all face in life, illness, loss, rejection - it's different for each of us but we all suffer pain and difficulty of some kind in our lives. He wondered if the Lord puts us through certain experiences so that we can be healed in some way.

Mary mentioned the words Jesus spoke about forgiving others so that we can be forgiven. (It's worth reading the whole chapter.) If our hearts are not open to forgive others they will be too tightly closed to receive or even recognise his forgiveness towards us. We certainly need to care about others. This reminded Jim of the Roman centurion who cared enough about his servant to find Jesus and ask for help, believing that it would be done. He had remarkable faith, and it was done.

Jim told us about Bethany's forthcoming visit to Auschwitz and how they'd watched the film 'Schindler's List' as a form of preparation. In Schindler we can clearly see how even a 'bad' person can have a deeply caring compassion for others.

Another thought that came to us was that we need to spend time with Jesus and as we do so, little by little we will become more like him. The reason the Holy Spirit was given to us was to reveal him to us and to teach us all about him.

Mary talked about a Pentecostal church she had been to some years ago and how they'd really gone for vigorous praise and worship with an emphasis on spiritual gifts. And although it had seemed quite extreme to her, she was sure in her heart that it was OK. They became quite carried away yet it was clear to her that it was inherently good, and therefore not frightening or alarming.

Jim played us a You Tube video 'Empty Me' by Chris Sligh. We watched it but without sound as the speakers weren't available, so we just read the words. It's even better with the music!

Jim also read Philippians 3:12-16 and reminded us that we have confidence in attaining the goal. But where does our confidence come from? For the Pharisees in Jesus' day education and following the Law gave them confidence. Paul was trained as a Pharisee but the past didn't hold him back. Like him, our confidence is in Christ by the power of his Spirit in us.

It's not about the past or about the things we have done (good or bad), in the end it's only about the direction we are facing now and the goal we are aiming for - which is to come ever closer to Jesus himself.

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