Series – Reckless Love
Sermon – Value the Vulnerable
Scripture Readings: 1 John 3:16-18, Mark 5:1-13
And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs; and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain; for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. (Mark 5:2-5)
Monday October 7 — 1 John 3:16-18
The biggest challenge for many people who want to follow Jesus is understanding what he means when he insists that we must, “love your neighbor as [y]ourself” (Mark 12:31). For many of us, love is a positive feeling or emotion. But for Jesus, love is a decision that we put into action on behalf of another person. In other words, the love that Jesus’ commands, and models, is love that seeks the best for another person, “not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 John 3:18). How have you practiced Jesus-like love in the past few days? How might you put love into action today?
• Prayer: Loving God, continue to transform my heart and mind so that I choose, everyday, to put my love for others into action. Help me learn to follow Jesus. Amen.
Tuesday October 8 — Exodus 22:21-27
The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, insists that caring for vulnerable people is one of the highest priorities for God’s people. Resident aliens, widows, orphans, and the poor represent vulnerable people in the world of the Bible. They are at a disadvantage because of their circumstances and rely on the support of others. What we discover in the Bible is that God cares deeply about how we treat them and care for them. Who are the most vulnerable people in the world today? How are they treated by God’s people?
• Prayer: God of All People, grant me the courage I need to advocate for vulnerable people in the world. Open my eyes to see others the way you see them. Amen.
Wednesday October 9 — Luke 7:11-17
In Jesus’ own words, he has come to “bring good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18), and the widow in Nain is someone who needs some Good News. Jesus’ love for the woman is put into action when he restores her son to life. This is one of many examples, in the Gospels, of Jesus acting on behalf of people who were on the margins of society. Jesus’ disciples — then and now — are faced with a decision: will they follow Jesus’ example and continue his ministry. What will you do?
• Prayer: Merciful God, if I am honest, I too often ignore or look past people who are on the margins of society. I too often fail to follow Jesus’ example. Forgive me, I pray. Amen.
Thursday October 10 — Mark 5:1-13
Jesus’ encounter with the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20) teaches Jesus’ disciples several important lessons. First, it teaches us that the Spirit of God working through Jesus is more powerful than any evil spirit — or anything else that we will ever face. Second, it teaches us that love for neighbors must include the vulnerable people, who live on the margins of society: the man lived in the tombs. (See tomorrow’s GPS reading for another lesson.) How might you apply these lessons to your own life and experience?
• Prayer: God of Compassion, thank you for having compassion on me and loving me despite my faults and failures. Show me how I might share your love with others. Amen.
Friday October 11 — Mark 5:14-20
The second half of Jesus’ encounter with the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20) serves as a model for faithful discipleship (which would likely have been very troubling to many of the first readers of Mark’s Gospel). While some in the community are afraid of Jesus (because of what he did), “demoniac” wants to be his disciple. So Jesus sends him back to his home to tell his story. Is it possible that Jesus is sending you to someone or someplace to share your story?
• Prayer: God of Grace, grant me the courage I need to tell the story of how your love and grace has changed my life. Send me to the people who need to hear it. Amen.
Saturday October 12 — Acts 3:1-10
All four of the Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — demonstrate over and over again the way Jesus loves his neighbors, including (or especially) those who are not loved by anyone else. The message of the New Testament is both consistent and insistent: Jesus’ disciples are expected, and empowered, to continue Jesus’ ministry in the world. The challenge is to believe that the same power that was at work in Jesus then is available to us now. Do you believe that God has empowered you to continue Jesus’ ministry in the world today?
• Prayer: Almighty God, forgive me for not believing that your power is at work in the world today. Open my heart and mind to trust you and allow you to guide my life. Amen.