Part 6: Tentative urgency. Looking for the Trees – Holy Waste
Getting to Know You: This week, instead of a question, attempt to take up this challenge, then tell your group members about your experience. For one week, attempt to “waste” some time. On the first day, try to note how many times you reach for your phone, computer, tv remote, radio, etc. just to fill some time or silence. Just become aware of it and take note of the frequency with a tally. On the next day, try to resist one of those opportunities to kill time and instead allow yourself to simply be present in the moment around you – pay more attention to the people you are with or simply endure a moment of silence without worrying about gaining any new knowledge, entertainment, or productivity. See how long and how often you can tolerate silence. What is it like?
For extra challenge and support, learn more about Brother Lawrence, a simple cook who spent his life “Practicing the Presence of God” and what that diligent work yielded for him: http://thepracticeofthepresenceofgod.com/
Getting to Know the Bible:
Pursuing Christian charity is a hard balance between being effectively motivated to action in serving the kingdom with being thoughtful about how to act effectively. Perhaps the balance is best struck by looking not to great theories of practice, or even Biblical precepts, as much as it is about looking to God Himself in how he leads us to follow Him in the here and now – be it in action or inaction as the situation and moment calls for – so long as we are primarily focused on obeying and glorifying our Heavenly Father.
Read 2 Samuel 5:17-25
In this passage, God instructs David to NOT act, but to wait, and to watch. [I always picture the scene in Lord of the Rings, the ghost army at the Battle of Pelennor Fields when I picture what it might have been like to see the tops of the Balsam trees starting to stir as David is about to venture into yet another battle with the Philistines.] How does this picture of obedience to God compare to how you typically think about God’s commands for us?
What do you think it must have been like for David, standing there vulnerable, with the Philistines before him and having to wait?
What would it be like to watch and wait for God’s movements leading us into the “battle” of building His Kingdom? Doing charity?
Read John 5:19
How does Jesus exemplify this strategy of not acting on His own power and initiative, like David by the Balsam trees?
If this is how Jesus acts [especially in a situation where religious pressure is confronting Him . . . check out the surrounding context], what are the implications for how we should enter into any acts of charity?
Do you believe that God is living and active around you? Do you see Him at work? How busy do you imagine God is? What do you think this means for our tendencies towards lazy inaction? What grace is there to be found in your failure to or failed attempts to respond well to poverty when you consider God at work around us?
Read John 12:1-8
What is Jesus’ reaction to the waste in this story?
Can you identify with Judas’ frustrated reaction to the scene – whatever his true motivations were - could you imagine yourself speaking his lines?
What does this story tell us about poverty and how we should respond to it?
Read Matthew 25:31-46
Consider this lesson from Christ in tension with the above passage. As you hold the two together, how do they seem to contradict each other?
How does teasing out their differences and similarities push you to a deeper understanding of how to respond to poverty?
Applying Myself to this Message: Take the challenge to Practice the Presence. Find ways to make holy waste. Watch and listen in place of opportunities to be seen or to speak.
How does God console you with grace through these passages?
When you start to pay attention to the movement of God’s presence around you, how does God empower you to move and live and act?