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Friday, September 26, 2014

Pentecost 16: Does the Word and His word have authority in my life?

The Gospel text before us today is about authority and it includes a parable about changing your mind. Jesus is confronted in the Temple by "the chief priests and the elders of the people" and their question/challenge/accusation to Jesus is "What authority do you have to speak to us the way you do?"
With their words they challenge, question, accuse.....the Word made flesh as He stands before them...the irony is dreadful...and sad. Ultimately of course, they reject the Word and His word, because they refuse to come under His authority and the authority of His word...but the question I place before us today is this: Are we any different to them, but to make it personal, because our faith is personal and our relationship with our Saviour is personal, the question on your lips and mine has to be this: Am I any different to them...does the Word and His word have authority in my life?  

Regarding the word of God, the texts that Judaism cherished, the Scriptures: Jesus lived the text, preached the text, taught the text, prayed the text, died the text.....He was passionate about the Scriptures and the mark of His disciples was, and still is, a deep passion for the word of God, a passion that plays out in us because we see this word as The Authoritative Word in our lives, the word before which every other word in our lives must submit.

Perhaps today, you have to change your mind regarding who or what is ultimately The Authoritative Word in your life. And so, Jesus, when His authority is questioned, doesn't answer (He will not cast his pearls before swine, to use His own words), but He does tell a parable, in the context of authority, about changing your mind. This is a parable about people who say one thing, but do another....who pretend obedience, but live disobedience, who sing praise but live lives that curse the one they praise....in other words it's a parable about you and me and the need for us to change the way we think about things.

This is a parable about changing your mind.  The one son says, “I won’t go and work in the vineyard.”  But later – he changes his mind and does go work in the vineyard.
The other son says “I will go and work in the vineyard”  but changes his mind and doesn’t go.

Then Jesus says to the chief priests and elders in the Temple – John the Baptist came and showed you the right path towards God, but you would not believe him and at the end of verse 32 Jesus says, “You would not change your minds.”  You see they had their own ideas about the way to God.  So this parable is all about “changing your mind.”

The idea of changing your mind is central to the New Testament.  The New Testament was written in Greek and the Greek word for changing your mind is metanoia.  When they translate it into English they often use the word repent (for a very good article on how this word has been mistranslated in our Bibles, read here)

Essentially, repent’s meaning is to change your mind.....i.e.  "I used to think this was acceptable, but I’ve changed  my mind and I realise now that it is unacceptable.....perhaps it’s even a sin" That is repentance.
One of the reasons that you and I often struggle with ongoing sin in our lives is because we haven’t changed our minds, changed our way of thinking about that particular behaviour.

So metanoia, repentance, changing your mind, changing your way of thinking, is central to our belief. 
Do you need to change your mind?  I want to ask you that question in three specific areas of your life.

First:  Do you need to change the way you think about God and His Son, King Jesus and the salvation and kingdom He invites you to be a part of?  If Jesus is anything other to you than Lord (King), Saviour and inaugurator  of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth now, then I want to plead with you, please change the way you think, change your mind about Jesus and His kingdom.

Secondly:  Do you need to change your mind, the way you think, about others?  The truth is that when we change the way we think about Jesus and make up our minds that He is King (Lord) and Saviour, He then wants us to change the way we think about others:
– the way we think about the poor
- the  way we think about the outcast 
- the way we think about our boss or our workers
- the way we think about our enemy

Do you need to repent, to change the way you think about others?

Finally, thirdly:  Do you need to change the way you think in some area of your life?  I’m not talking about calling a spade a spade so much as I'm talking about calling a sin a sin.  What the world sees as acceptable, God often sees as unacceptable. What the world might see as a sharp business practice, or as a bad habit, or as a weakness, maybe it’s time to change your mind and call it a sin, seeing it as God sees it, and dealing with it as God deals with sin.

Is it time to change your way of thinking, bringing it into line with God’s way of thinking, to change your mind and start calling sin, sin.

So this Sunday we’ve looked at authority and at a parable about changing your mind, particularly about changing your mind regarding who and what has ultimate authority in your life.

May the Word and His word be the authority in our lives and may the Word and His word be our strength as we seek to do what we say and serve Him who we claim to serve.

May God give us grace and strength to be honest with ourselves.

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