Here are items from today’s church activities.
A. The pastor’s sermon revolved around the question of how one can know God. He talked about his own father and how he learned about a funny, mischievous, romantic side to his father that he rarely if ever saw when growing up, a time when he was at odds with his father. The pastor commented that many people’s picture of God is based on their own fathers: if their father was stern, they envision God as stern. Another story that the pastor mentioned was Kipling’s story of the blind men and the elephant: the blind men were unable to recognize the elephant as an elephant, for their experience was only partial, as they drew their conclusions after touching specific parts of the elephant. The pastor also referred to a statement, which he attributed to Schleiermacher, that, if there were no God, we would have to invent him. Perhaps we would be able to invent a supreme moral authority or a clockmaker, the pastor remarked, but that would fall short of who God is. That is why God did not leave us to our own devices but revealed himself through Jesus Christ, communicating his desire for a relationship with us. Jesus reveals the Father, as John 14:9 indicates, but Jesus also reveals the Spirit, for Jesus sent the Spirit (John 15:26; 16:7).
B. In Sunday school, one passage that we discussed was John 13. Jesus loves his disciples and knows he is about to leave. Before supper, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. This is an act of service and an example for Jesus’s disciples, and disciples are blessed if they do so: people in the class said this blessing is that they become closer to God and attain attributes of character (i.e., compassion). But the washing also represents something spiritual that Jesus is doing. People must be washed by Jesus to have any part of Jesus. But the disciples need not have their whole bodies cleansed but only their feet, for they are already clean, with the exception of Judas. A question in my mind concerns the point at which they became cleansed. They were apparently clean before they received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). Were they cleansed at their water baptism, perhaps by Jesus himself (see John 4:2)? Did that baptism bring them, not only forgiveness of sins, but also a righteous orientation on the inside? If so, why did that baptism not “take” with Judas? Or perhaps what cleansed them was their faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 15:9); Judas, in betraying Jesus but also in being a thief (John 12:6), may have indicated that he did not truly believe.
C. We got into a discussion about humility and ego. Someone in the class said that ego is important because it can give people drive; otherwise, they would be wimps and not do anything. Someone else commented that she herself is kind of a wimp: she prefers to sit on the sidelines rather than getting involved. When she does take initiative, people recognize that as the Spirit of God!