Some items from church last Sunday:
A. We started a class on Romans. In Romans 1:16, Paul states that he is not ashamed of the Gospel. Most Christians interpret that to mean that Christians should go out into the world and boldly proclaim the Gospel, even if people may not want to hear it. Think of the song, “Not ashamed.” The pastor had a different interpretation. He interpreted it to mean that Paul knows God will not disappoint him; God will not leave him out there with no one to help. The Gospel will not disappoint, for it has the power to effect what God intends.
B. The pastor talked about peace, or shalom. Peace is not merely the absence of fighting but is a relationship word. Shalom means wholeness. Christians have peace with God and with one another through forgiveness. They are no longer at odds with creation in the Kingdom of Grace, for they know that God will redeem it. This teaching, especially the part about peace with others, troubles me. Romans 12:18 states: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (KJV). I usually comfort myself by saying that I am not actively trying to hurt others. But then someone will tell me that is not good enough: I have to like them, and I have to do my part to make them like me. That is unfeasible to me. I cannot picture it happening. I read the Old Testament, and I wonder if the bar was lower then. An Israelite did not have to like his enemy, but he still needed to refrain from attacking him and also help him when he needed help (i.e., returning his lost donkey, feeding him when he was poor, etc.).
C. The sermon was about the Parable of the Sower. The parable is about different responses to God’s word. Indeed, at the time, there were different responses to Jesus’s message, as some accepted Jesus, and others trivialized or rejected it. The pastor speculated that the seed of the parable was Jesus himself. In Mark 4:12 and parallels, Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:10, which affirms that the hearts of the Israelites shall be hard and slow to understand. A few verses later, in Isaiah 6:13, there is a reference to the holy seed. The pastor interprets that as the Davidic seed, the Messiah, Jesus.