The Mark passage for this week is the story of Jesus calling Simon and Andrew and James and John. "The time is fulfilled," Jesus proclaims. "The kingdom of heaven has come near. Repent and believe the good news." Then he said, "Follow me."
In today's world, there are a number of competing voices calling to us to believe and to follow. It is easy to get caught up in the fury of louder voices, of voices that promise things that are -- in reality -- completely undeliverable or that play to our hedonistic or materialistic greed. These voices also claim that the time is fulfilled. How does one know how to listen with discernment in the midst of these worldly voices?
The voice of God-with-us speaks to us above the din of rhetoric and calls us to repentance first before inviting us into faith and shared discipleship. When we still ourselves and listen -- truly listen -- for the voice of God in the midst of the chaos around us, we can hear Jesus issue an invitation to us as he invited the disciples on the beach beside the sea of Galilee.
If any of the voices you hear are telling you that you are always in the right, you are not hearing the voice of God because all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
If any of the voices you hear are telling you to just take care of yourself and your own, you are not hearing the voice of God because God tells us to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:31-40) and love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and to care for the poor (Luke 14:12-14) and the sick (Luke 10:30-37) and the imprisoned (Luke 4:18).
If any of the voices you hear are telling you that you should worship anything besides God or that you are superior to your neighbor in any way, you are not hearing the voice of God because God commands us to love God first and to love our neighbor as ourselves (12:30-31).
This is discernment. Go back to the scriptures over and over, and when the scriptures contradict themselves (as they sometimes appear to do), go to the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The example of Christ is God-with-us, showing us ... teaching us ... how to live according to God's law of love. If the voices you are hearing do not align with the law of love lived out by Jesus Christ, then you are not hearing the voice of God. Get quieter. Listen more closely. The call to discipleship is for all people: Repent and believe the good news. Then, follow Jesus.
Julie participated in the 25th Seminar for Certified Zentangle(R) Teacher Training in June, 2019, trained by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. In addition to creating art as a personal spiritual practice, Julie also incorporates the Zentangle(R) method in Prayer Art Retreats in a variety of contexts, including church groups, friend gatherings, and at a local art gallery. Check out the Upcoming Events page for a calendar of events, or use the Contact Us page to inquire about scheduling an event with your group!
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