Saturday, February 15, 2014

Discipling the Outcast

Discipling the Outcast
As we did last week we will review the Biblical definition of disciple, expand on it, and tie it to the kind of people our lesson is focusing on.  Let us, then, review again the Biblical definition of disciple.  We read in Luke 14: 27, 33 that it is someone who bears their cross and forsake all and follow Him.  We also have read in John 15: 5, 8 that a disciple is someone that abides in Christ and bears much fruit.  Three weeks ago we added that since a disciple is a follower of Christ they have responded to Christ invitation come unto Him, take His yoke, learned of Him to be humble and meek and found rest (Matthew 11: 28 – 30).  Two weeks ago we added that discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief, doctrine or cause.  Love and service toward others is the natural outcome of obedience to the Jesus.  Last week we added that a disciple is drawn to Jesus. Which means a disciple is drawn to Christ’s love and the Cross (Jeremiah 31: 3; John 12: 32 – 33).  This means that the disciple is drawn to the cross and follows its path.  The disciple lays down his life for others as Christ did for us (1 John 3: 16).  As Paul says in Ephesians,
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour (Ephesians 5:1, 2).
Ellen White states,
We are to follow the example set by Christ, and make Him our pattern, until we shall have the same love for others as He has manifested for us. He seeks to impress us with this profound lesson of love. . . . If your hearts have been given to selfishness, let Christ imbue you with His love.  He has made love the badge of our discipleship. . . . This is the measurement to which you are to reach,—”Love one another; as I have loved you.” What height, what depth and breadth of love! This love is not simply to embrace a few favorites, it is to reach to the lowliest and humblest of God’s creatures. Jesus says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” . . . {OFC 27.4}
So, a disciple will love the outcasts?  But, who are the outcasts?  And, since the lesson is called discipling the outcast, then how do you make these outcasts followers of Christ?  An outcast is someone rejected by their society or social group.  By rejected we mean ostracized or marginalized.  They are treated like waste or refuse.  Our lesson points out some of those who were outcast in Jesus time: harlots, publicans (tax collectors), adulterous women, and demoniacs.  The privileged classes, like the Pharisees, thought themselves better.  But, Jesus showed them that God loved all men.  Let us read what Ellen G. White said about the Pharisees concerning the publicans,
‘The Pharisees beheld Christ sitting and eating with publicans and sinners. He was calm and self-possessed, kind, courteous, and friendly; and while they could not but admire the picture presented, it was so unlike their own course of action, they could not endure the sight. The haughty Pharisees exalted themselves, and disparaged those who had not been blessed with such privileges and light as they themselves had had. They hated and despised the publicans and sinners. Yet in the sight of God their guilt was the greater. Heaven's light was flashing across their pathway, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it"; but they had spurned the gift” (The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1,088.).
Is it that to God some sin is greater than other?  Again from Ellen White,
God does not regard all sins as of equal magnitude; there are degrees of guilt in His estimation,  as well as in that of man; but however trifling this or that wrong act may seem in the eyes of men, no sin is small in the sight of God. Man's judgment is partial, imperfect; but God estimates all things as they really are. The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven; while pride, selfishness, and covetousness too often go unrebuked.  But these are sins that are especially offensive to God; for they are contrary to the benevolence of His character, to that unselfish love which is the very atmosphere of the unfallen universe. He who falls into some of the grosser sins may feel a sense of his shame and poverty and his need of the grace of Christ; but pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give.  {SC 30.1} 
This why to God pride is the worst of all Sin.  We look at how Christ treated the adulterous woman.  He did not overlook her Sin, but rather forgave her.  He did not intend to condemn her, but to restore her.  Ellen White says,
“In His act of pardoning this woman and encouraging her to live a better life, the character of Jesus shines forth in the beauty of perfect righteousness. While He does not palliate sin, nor lessen the sense of guilt, He seeks not to condemn, but to save. The world had for this erring woman only contempt and scorn; but Jesus speaks words of comfort and hope. The Sinless One pities the weakness of the sinner, and reaches to her a helping hand. While the hypocritical Pharisees denounce, Jesus bids her, "Go, and sin no more." (The Desire of Ages, pp. 460-462).
In being treated with love the former demoniac and the woman at the well became disciples immediately.  They witnessed about the great things Christ had done for them.  As a result of this others believed.  Another quote from Ellen White gives us more insight in this,
"We are saved by hope." Romans 8:24. The fallen must be led to feel that it is not too late for them to be men. Christ honored man with His confidence and thus placed him on his honor. Even those who had fallen the lowest He treated with respect. It was a continual pain to Christ to be brought into contact with enmity, depravity, and impurity; but never did He utter one expression to show that His sensibilities were shocked or His refined tastes offended. Whatever the evil habits, the strong prejudices, or the overbearing passions of human beings, He met them all with pitying tenderness. As we partake of His Spirit, we shall regard all men as brethren, with similar temptations and trials, often falling and struggling to rise again, battling with discouragements and difficulties, craving sympathy and help. Then we shall meet them in such a way as not to discourage or repel them, but to awaken hope in their hearts. (The Ministry of Healing, pp. 164-165).

As we partake of the His Spirit, His love will flow to others.  You will recognize yourself in them.  After all, who has not ever felt rejected, worthless and despondent?  Yet, Christ was merciful and loving toward you.  He let you know how much you are worth to Him.  You were bought with a price.  You are not your own (1 Corinthians 6: 19, 20).  He owns you. Deliver yourself to Him.

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