presented by Mark Pedrin – Minister of Community Engagement
Week 1: S = See
Seeing as Jesus sees is central to living out the Good News of the Kingdom. As we develop our vision and grow in living from a Kingdom perspective, sharing with others becomes more of a natural outflow of who we are and how we see the world.
This morning we will explore three areas of seeing as Jesus sees: Seeing the Unseen, Seeing through History, and Seeing our Neighbors.
Seeing the Unseen
2 Kings 6:15-17 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Daniel 10:1-5, 10-15 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. a The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man […] A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands andknees. He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speakto you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood uptrembling. Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind togain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns atime yet to come.” While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and wasspeechless.
Table Discussion: How do you see the intersection between responses of fear and responses of faith in our lives? How might cultivating increased awareness of unseen spiritual realities influence… Our relationships with other people? Our understanding of God’s unique purpose for our lives?
Seeing through History
The History of your Neighborhood: Think for a few minutes about your neighborhood. Describe it—urban, suburban, rural; its population density; how long it’s been around; the level of diversity; etc. Then try to answer the question, “Why does my neighborhood exist?” In otherwords, what led people to create and live in that particular place?
Spiritual Strongholds: The Daniel passage we read earlier is a key scripture touching on the ideaof ‘spiritual strongholds’—Places of spiritual power or spiritual activity that are set against the work of God in that area.
As John Dawson points out in Taking our Cities for God, “[Satan] gains authority when, at some point in history, human beings believe his lie, receive his accusation and are seduced into an allegiance to his plan.” Seeing our past with eyes of discernment can help us to pray in a morespecific way for open doors in people’s lives, and the breaking of the power of sin in ourcommunities.
Example: Strongholds of racism. At first glance, the Puget Sound area seems to be a model ofracial and ethnic diversity and acceptance. However, you don’t have to dig very deep to findattitudes and behaviors that contribute toward
fear, oppression, and division between people.
As we examine a few examples, let’s ask ourselves:
What impact do they have on individuals and on communities? How could they hinder the work God is wanting to do?
The Seattle riot of 1886 occurred on February 6–9, 1886 amidst rising anti-Chinese sentiment caused by intense labor competition and in the context of an ongoing struggle between labor and capital in the Western United States. The dispute arose when a mob affiliated with a local Knights of Labor chapter formed small committees to carry out a forcible expulsion of all Chinese from the city.
The incident resulted in the removal of over 200 Chinese people from the International District of Seattle, and left 2 militia men and 3 rioters seriously injured.
Table discussion: As God’s people, how can seeing the effect of history make a difference in how we live today?
Racial Restrictive Covenants Racial deed restrictionsbecame common after 1926 when the U.S. Supreme Court validated their use. The restrictions were an enforceable contract and an owner who violated them risked forfeiting the property. Many neighborhoods prohibited the sale or rental of property to Asian Americans and Jews as well as Blacks. For example, this clause from a Kirkland neighborhood covenant in the 1930s: “No title or interest or right of occupancy of said premises shall ever become invested in any person other than of the Caucasian race.” In 1948, the court changed its mind, declaring that racial restrictions would no longer be enforced, but the decision did nothing to alter the informal structures of segregation.
Discussion: What ‘religious identities’ or spiritual practices have you seen as being important to people you regularly interact with, if any?
Even after courts struck down racial restrictive covenants, banks and real estate agents sometimes worked to limit access to home ownership in specific neighborhoods.
Seeing our Neighbors
Who are the people God has placed around us? What are some of the significant qualities of our communities?
The following comes from an interview with Patricia O’Connell Killen, author of Religion & Public Life in the Pacific Northwest: The None Zone.
The “Nones”: The term “nones” refers to those who, when asked as part of the American Religious Identification Survey, “What is your religious identity, if any?” responded “none.” The 2000 survey data showed “nones” to make 25% of the Pacific Northwest. That is twice thepercentage of the next largest group (Roman Catholicism) and more than five times the size of the second largest religious family the Holiness/Wesleyan/Pentecostal communities.
[Typical Pacific Northwest “nones” are] white, male, educated, and own their own home. They are conventional in believing in God, believing that God intervenes in their lives, even in praying.Very few “nones” self identify as atheist or agnostic, less than 2%. Where Northwest “nones”are unconventional is in their thinking about organized religious bodies – “nones” do not consider religious institutions important to their spiritual/religious journeys. “Nones” areindifferent or averse to institutional religious participation.
Table Discussion: What stands out to you about people who identify themselves as “nones”? Do you know people who fit this description?
The Spiritual Marketplace: The Pacific Northwest lacks a dominant religious community alongside or over against which individuals and communities construct their religious identities. In much of the South you are Baptist or working at not being a Baptist. In Minnesota over 50% of the population were Lutheran or Catholic. In the Pacific Northwest the single largest religious body is the Roman Catholic Church, which is only 11.3% of the population. That is a significantly smallerpercentage than the 25% who responded “none” when asked, “What is your religious affiliation, if any?”
In an “open” religious environment like the Pacific Northwest there is less social pressure and socialreinforcement for participation in religious organizations. Individuals must repeatedly choose to belong and participate. This creates space for innovation in religious ideas, practices, and modes of organization. An “open” space feeds religious creativity; it also feeds anxiety about boundaries ofindividual and group identity.
Table Discussion: What ‘religious identities’ or spiritual practices have you seen as being important to people you regularly interact with, if any?