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A Commentary by John Stott

Poem by John Clare — Letterpress printed in Bell type on Mohawk Superfine Paper. Collagraph by Jinny Pearce.

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John Clare was an English poet, the son of a farm labourer, who came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation of its disruption. His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is often now considered to be among the most important 19th-century poets. His biographer Jonathan Bate states that Clare was "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self".

They will know the difference, because our world of ungrace as Philip Yancey calls it in Church: Why Bother? Christians get caught up in this too! The disciples' behavior toward the mothers and their children was consistent with society's model. However, it was in sharp contrast with the relationship model that Christ embraces and teaches.

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The young man saw Jesus communicate grace to a multitude engaged in competition, judgment, and ranking. His is the nonhierarchical community model, not based on power and rule and lording power, but on mutuality. In the context of John 17, allelon is God asking us to be His one-another people--that special fellowship that represents Him on this earth. Mutuality tells us that all of us are a part of one another.

Like conjoined twins, we should be so attached to one another that we cannot be separated, but must work together for our own survival. Yet what you hear in most churches is about authority and submission to authority and obedience to authority, not one-anotherness. But when we read the New Testament, the foundational concept of mutuality among believers jumps right out at us. To stimulate our thinking, let me repeat a few texts in question form.

Do you, do we: Accept one another? James Encourage one another? James Kindly show affection to one another? James Regard one another as more important than ourselves? John Are we zealous about making progress on the other one-anotherness examples, the do's as well as the don'ts? How we answer these questions individually and corporately may reveal how well or how poorly we are fulfilling our responsibility to love one another as Christ loves us John , With the help of the Holy Spirit we are charged to live out a kind of alternative society before the eyes of a watching world--a world that is increasingly moving toward tribalism and division.

Here was a young man who was confident that he was a commandment keeper and that there was just one little step between himself and perfection. Yet there were two things wrong with him: He did not have the love of God in his heart, 2 and his attitude toward other people had been essentially negative. The lesson is that serious defects may also remain in us, though we have been keeping the commandments since our conversion.

And unless these blighting influences are removed, we will make no further progress toward perfection. To set him on the right path, Jesus told the man to sell all his goods and distribute the proceeds to the poor. Just as maladies vary from person to person, remedies vary as well.

Here was his big chance to be perfect at long last, and he blew it! If we are tempted to judge that man rather harshly, we might need to reflect upon our own pilgrimage to realize that we have relationship hurdles to overcome ourselves. Look at it this way. You are a commandment-keeping believer.


You get down on your knees and ask the Lord, "Is there anything else that I need to do to inherit eternal life? What else do I need to do? I know just the one--down on Friendship Street. I am talking about one with an uninhibited worship style. In short, since you have difficulty with varied expressions of worship, this remedy will help you learn to truly accept other people. Here is a second hypothetical example. Suppose He says: "To be perfect, relocate your family from your comfortable suburban setting to a hovel in the inner city, and for the rest of your life represent Me to the neglected people groups there.

A third hypothetical. Suppose He tells you: "To be perfect, you must transfer your membership to the Philippi church, where the minister and first elder are females. In these and other examples that best express your malady, how would you go away? Joyfully or sorrowfully?

ROLAND BOUTIQUE JU-60. Sequencer and delay test -"Tidal Anotherness"

We know how the young man went away, don't we? The Bible says he went away sorrowful; and the reason was more than his love for money. He had lived his life embracing a strictly hierarchical model, and Christ's nonhierarchical community model simply went against the human grain. I have been talking about two models this morning: society's strictly hierarchical model versus Christ's nonhierarchical community model.

So your question might very well be: Is Christ's model a new idea? The answer is no! It existed before the world began. It has its origin within the triune God. It was present in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world.

And after the Fall the story of Cain and Abel illustrated how God values mutuality. When the Lord inquired concerning Abel, Cain responded with perhaps one of the most thought-provoking questions in the Bible: "Am I my brother's keeper?

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It's a question we would do well to ask ourselves every day. The answer is a resounding yes! And on page 29 she lifts up the basic principles of meaningful, life-changing conversation: "Acknowledge one another as equals. But I do know that today's gospel of mutuality, allelon , one-anotherness, is a great illustration of what she's talking about. If we cannot find acceptance in God's church, where else on earth can we go?

In a time of chaos and violence, when scores of nations are at war with one another; in a time when ecosystems are in chaos from misuse and abuse; in a time when lives are being lost to senseless greed, corruption, and drug abuse, many people out there and members in here are seeking healing, longing for hope.

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They need to see the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a fellowship that communicates mutuality. This healing for which we long as individuals and as the corporate church, Christ offers freely. That is where His grace comes in.

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We need a transformed present today. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. I believe it is time to turn to our Lord by turning to one another. What do you say? We must turn to one another as equals, not treating one another as competitors or dismissing one another with labels.



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