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Summary: Jesus’ Church is to be a place where all humankind is received and welcomed with grace.

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Mushrooms or Maple Trees:

Spiritual Growth as God Intended

Sermon #6

Sermon Objective: Jesus’ Church is to be a place where all humankind is received and welcomed with grace.

PRE-SERVICE INTRODUCTION

We are in a sermon series called Mushrooms and Maple Trees. Mushrooms sprout up overnight and then wither away in a matter of days. Maple trees, on the other hand, grow gradually while learning to withstand the forces of nature that threaten their existence. They result in a majestic fruit bearing entity that lasts for generations.

So it is with people who follow Christ. Unfortunately some wither away very rapidly; but others grow deep and strong and produce the fruit of life that God designed for them.

In chapter 8 and 9 of Mark we are discovering elements of a Christ-follower that produce this depth and substance to life.

Just as Jesus was preparing and grooming the first disciples to be Maple Trees so we will discover that as we apply the lessons to our lives we, too, will grow in kind. Maple Tree style followers live lives that please God.

In past weeks we discovered that a life that pleases God is:

1. A life that follows Him Personally (8:27-33)

2. A life that follows Him in Full Surrender (8:34-38)

3. A life that follows Him in Obedience (9:1-8)

4. A life that follows Him in Close Connectedness (9:14-29)

5. A life that follows Him in Humility (9:30-35)

Today we will discover that a life that pleases God is a LIFE THAT FOLLOWS HIM BY WELCOMING OTHERS (9:33-50)

INTRODUCTION

>>Begin by showing the sermon spice video “Me Church”<<

Sometimes we get a bit confused about the church’s purpose. Even the best of us can begin to think with the “marketplace mentality” and before long we’re complaining about “our needs” and “our preferences” rather than seeking God’s preferences and His plans for community.

Even the best of us.

Even the twelve apostles weren’t immune. They traveled with Jesus for three years and watched him receive and bless people from all walks of life and, yet, at a critical juncture they showed how incongruous their preferences were with Jesus’. Even they became disgruntled about the clientele he was associating with.

Seems they had failed to take a good look at themselves lately – they got to thinking they had somehow evolved to a place where they were superior (9:33-35).

The disciples didn’t get along with one another and they didn’t get along with others either. They disclose their feelings of jealousy and rivalry in the stories we read today.

What does Jesus do when the ugly presence of self-addiction shows itself?

• He calls a timeout. He stops the journey to Jerusalem and spends some time teaching the disciples very important lessons about ministry, people, and themselves.

• In His quest to help them become Maple Trees he sees the need to correct their attitudes towards people.

• That’s very wise since EVERYTHING that a Christian does should be people-focused and servant-oriented.

• As we saw last week, once one begins to recover from self-addiction the capacity to look towards others will begin to expand.

Jesus gives the disciples a good indication about what the future church will look like and how it will operate. He does it by challenging their pre-conceived ideas and biases. We would be well advised to listen in.

JESUS SHOWS US HOW TO RELATE TO DISCIPLES WHO ARE

DEPENDENT (V. 36, 37 41)

This is a classic “Ours verses theirs” scenario.

The disciples become very proprietary and protective of Jesus. They isolate him and in the process shrewdly reserve him for themselves and those they select to be in his company.

Jesus will have none of it – especially when those that are denied access and kept on the periphery are the dependent ones of society.

The words "child" and "servant" represent one word in Aramaic, we have here a picture parable – almost a double entendre and, in time, the disciples picked up on it.

• Jesus is classifying the youngsters and the servants in the same category – not because they are “lowly” but because they are dependent.

• The “little ones” are the immature, the vulnerable, and the weak – a child meets that criteria but so do many many more

• The truth is, the dependent are highly favored and Jesus seemed to prefer the company of both servants and children more than he did dignitaries.

Have you ever found yourself in the company of a person or a group that you felt totally unqualified or inferior around? I have. Do you remember the anxiety that came with wondering how you would be received? I do. I remember how relieving it was and how relaxing it was when these people welcomed me and treated me as a fellow human being not as a lesser. They proved to be people with large souls and genuine joy. They were capable of sharing that joy and zest for life with others … even me.

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