Someone may ask Jesus, "What's up with the cup illustration?"
"When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited Him to eat with him; so Jesus went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone." Luke 11:37-42
Jesus used the cup as a life changing illustration to remind everyone of what life is all about.
The outside of the cup is what we do; work, play, serve, give or our lack of working, playing, serving or giving.
The inside of the cup is who we really are; selfish or selfless, unclean or clean, unrighteous or righteous, building my own kingdom or building God's Kingdom, satisfying myself or satisfying God.
The Religious Leader was watching every move what Jesus did (watching the outside of Jesus' cup). He was shocked that Jesus did not do the custom of washing before eating. Did Jesus care about the outside of the cup? Of course; He said, "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone." Jesus wants all of us to be concerned about both the inside and outside of the cup. I believe He intentionally did not wash so that it would start an extremely important spiritual conversation.
Why did Jesus point out that the Religious Leaders, and everyone human for that matter, focuses on the outside of the cup? Because no human has the power to wash the inside of the cup. All humans are sinners and are dirty on the inside. We are all unrighteous, not perfect, selfish. The only one who can clean the inside is God. That is why one of Jesus' favorite preaching topics was, "The Kingdom of God is near." Jesus is right here. He is the only One who can clean the inside of anyone's life. Because of Jesus' miracle birth, perfect sinless life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, He and only He has the qualifications and power to clean the insides of our lives of our messy, dirty sinfulness.
When we get to that point of realizing this and asking Jesus to clean the inside of our cup, then we are able to do all the outside of the cup living; truly loving others, serving others, giving to others. In other words, being generous with who we are to everyone we know.
What's up with the cup illustration?
Every time we wash the dishes and every time we look into a cup as we drink from it, we hope that it is clean. May every time we use a cup, Jesus' illustration come to our mind.
Let's bring our lives to Jesus and ask Him to clean our insides. Then let's be willing to join Him in serving, loving and giving to His Kingdom.
How is Jesus helping us to be generous with our time, our talents, our possessions and our money?
Seeking to be clean on the inside and out.
Seeking to let Jesus do His inside life changing thing in me so that I can team up with Him to do life changing things with others.
Close your eyes and imagine a place where a vibrant buzz is happening, people are drawn to visit regularly both because of need and for want.
What did you think of… A coffee shop?...Target?...a school?... The Vikings?... Southtown Baptist Church?
No matter what your first thought was, now imagine what that place would be like if only some of the employees or participants actually were working? If Target were understaffed, you would have only one cashier lane open, shelves would be only partially filled, the floor would be unswept, and you would have no one at customer service to help you.
What about a school? Imagine only half the faculty showed up each day? It would definitely impact the learning environment as only some students would be taught, administrative details would not get done, counselors would be over taxed and the lunchroom would be a mess.
What if the star running back, linebacker and QB did not show up for the game? The opposing team will totally embarrass the Vikings. For a team, it is always all hands on deck.
Now think of your home…Who cleans it? Who plans the meals and cooks? Who mows the lawn and shovels? Who teaches and cares for the family members? Hopefully you share responsibilities with others in your family. But if it all lands on you alone, you know how draining this can be for one person.
Southtown Church is God’s home and we are the caretakers of it. The apostle Paul compares the Church to our bodies. Not only is every person at Southtown valued and important, but we need every person to be an active participant in order to fully function.
Rom 12:4-11 (NLT) Our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
1 Cor 12:14-23 (Msg) Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It is exactly the same with Christ….
I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so?
If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach.
There are three important truths to take from these passages.
Every Believer is a Minister.
This means you. You are valuable in the way God created, designed and chose your specific talents and gifts. No one can say they are not needed or have nothing they can contribute to ministry. It simply is not true because God made you to be a minister the moment you chose to follow him.
Every Ministry is Important.
How dull we would be as humans if we all had the same abilities. No one would be special. Reread 1 Cor. 12:14-23. This is why God made each person uniquely. There is no hierarchy in the church. We need our carpets vacuumed just as much as we need babies cared for. We need our small group leaders just as much as we need to do outreach in our neighborhood. We need our weeds pulled just as much as we need a worship team on Sunday mornings.
Everyone is interdependent on each other.
The Church was never designed to be led by a few with everyone else watching it happen. If you join a team, whether it is a sports team or a work crew, you know that every person needs to participate. How successful is a basketball team when only 2 of the five are actually playing? How fun is it to paint a house by yourself while the other people on your crew sit and watch? It isn’t sustainable nor healthy in the long term.
We ALL need to be involved to make the body of The Church, God’s house, function in a healthy way. Just as God designed the human body to be interdependent, he also designed His Church to be interdependent.
Seeking for everyone to be involved,
One Sabbath, Jesus was at the synagogue and He saw a man with a crippled hand. Who else saw him? Was he sitting in the back or standing behind the crowd? Was he hiding his hand under his cloak? It was the common belief that if someone had something wrong with them it was due to their sin or a family member's sin before them. So, any handicap was a public disgrace and a major embarrassment. Did others see him? Did others shun him? Was he alone? Did he feel alone? We do not know these details. But, what we do know, Jesus saw him. Jesus would not let him stand alone.
Remember, when God said, "Let there be light." What did God do at the end of each day's work of creating? He evaluated His work and said, "It is good." But, on that fifth day after hand making and breathing life into the man, what did God say?
“It is not good for the man to be alone.” Gen 2:18
Loneliness is not good. It is an illness. It is painful. It is extremely damaging. Everyone at some point and at a variety of times throughout their life, feel lonely. Lonely people will do many unhealthy things to solve this universal problem. Do we need to list the over eating, over spending, over social media-ing, secretly diving into their temptations deeper and deeper?
Sometimes, lonely people will even risk and go to a church for some help. But, do the people in that church have eyes to see them? Do they have a heart to see them? Do they have a mind that is intentionally trained to look for them? Are Christians like Jesus and do they naturally see lonely, hurt, wounded people? Did anyone see the man in church that day when Jesus called him to join Him? Did anyone see the inner pain, relational pain, emotional pain and the spiritual separation of this man besides Jesus?
One mantra that seems to bubble out of Jesus' life is...
No One Stands Alone!
Remember, the evil-controlled cemetery dweller? He was alone. As Jesus was in another town doing ministry, He saw this man, possibly a former husband and father. Jesus lived out, No One Stands Alone, by getting in a boat and going across a lake to solve this evil-filled man's problem of being all alone with this uncontrollable evil consuming him. Jesus saw this man while He was not even in that man's presence. Do you already see hurting and lonely people in your mind as you prepare to go to church this Sunday and every Sunday? Are you already praying for whom ever God would bring? Are you praying to have Jesus' eyes to see?
Do I need to say anything about the woman at the well? Jesus saw her alone. He was so committed to solve her loneliness problem, He sent His disciples on an errand.
No One Stands Alone.
Do you see lonely people?
Do you see people in need?
Do you see hurting, wounded people?
Do you have the eyes of Jesus to see what He wants you to see?
As Peter and John walked into the city in Acts 3, most people learned to ignore the pleas of a crippled man. Luke wrote, "Peter looked straight at him, as did John." The original language "looked straight" means to be stretched, to be pulled. It is as if the Holy Spirit pulled Peter's eyes to see this man.
Are you cooperating with the Holy Spirit so that He will pull your eyes to the people He wants you to see, serve and love?
Do you see lonely people?
1 Chron 16:11 "Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always."
As we daily spend time with Jesus, let Jesus' face to shine on you. Bask in all of His character and let Him transform you to be more like Himself. Then look at His face as He nudges you to look at someone who should not be standing alone.
Do you see them?
No One Stands Alone on our watch,
Extra... Extra... Read All About It...
Breaking News... This Just In...
"Did you hear that the local harlot got herself a preacher?!?"
What? A prostitute married a pastor?
Where is the punch line... this must be a joke.
How do you think God's people, the Hebrew Nation, felt and thought about their prophet, their spokesman for God, their priest, their pastor, Hosea marrying the prostitute, Gomer?
As the wedding bells rang and on their honeymoon...
Can you hear the gossip?
Can you see the snickers?
"What happened to the local prostitute? Did she finally meet God? How did she snag a preacher? Does she think she can marry her way into heaven? We have been avoiding her all around town. Now, we need to avoid her by not going to the temple, church."
"What is the matter with our prophet? Did he finally give up on God? Did he give into his temptations?"
His reputation was instantly null and void. Instead of respected, he became rejected and the local "fool."
As much as the locals and everyone who heard about this scandal thought, they were wrong. God spoke to Hosea. But, no one heard Him except Hosea. “Go, marry a prostitute and have children with her." Hosea 1:2 So, he did.
Hosea was one of the most patient, kind, tenderhearted, gracious, loving and misunderstood prophets. Obedient and faithful to the core. But, why would a man such as he marry someone such as she? That is the million dollar question.
Because God wanted to show His message, not just tell it.
Gomer, the married prostitute, still kept going back to her old life, sleeping around.
Hosea kept getting up, searching for her, finding her, picking her up and carrying her home.
Gomer gave into her temptations again and again, got pregnant from another man.
Hosea got up, found her, picked her up and carried her home.
Gomer had two sons and one daughter.
Time after time the Hebrews watched Hosea pick up his wife out of the arms of another and carry her home. Why?
Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife. Love her the way I,God, love the Israelite people, even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.” Hosea 3:2 (Msg)
God showed His patient, kind, tenderhearted, gracious love to His people and to all people through the marriage of Hosea and Gomer.
Do you hear God speaking to you? Do you feel and know His personal love for you?
How about the people in your life, do they know this God of Hosea?
The Hebrews intellectually knew this but they did not hear it. Hosea shouted to God's people, "Return, return, return to The Lord. You are the harlot. Return to The Lord who loves you, who wants to forgive you, who wants to pick you up and carry you home."
The people heard what Hosea was saying. The people saw what Hosea was doing. Yet, they kept going about their lives their own way. They took God for granted. They kept giving into their temptations. They did not join in God's mission to seek and save everyone.
Three tragic years later, the Hebrews were conquered by the Assyrians.
Having a tough time being a Hosea?
Have a tough time modeling the love and grace of Jesus?
Feel unappreciated, misunderstood and foolish?
Welcome to being a Hosea type Christian.
These days it is tough to live out God's mission. It is tough to keep praying for a new Fab 5 because the old Fab 5 has ignored you for years. It is tough being labeled a religious freak. It is tough being mocked and ridiculed.
Hosea knew it. He died ignored and rejected.
He was a lot like Jesus.
Jesus died mocked and rejected... until the resurrection!
Let's keep praying for our Fab 5.
Let's keep coming up with creative ways to start spiritual conversations with them.
Let's keep demonstrating Jesus' other worldly patience, kindness, grace and love.
Let's keep inviting them to our Fall Kickoff on Sept 15.
Seeking to be like Hosea together,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.