Welcome to Friends in Christ's interactive course, Adventure in Living through the Spirit. This course is presently being held at Greenbelt Middle School. If you can attend these classes, you will benefit from the interaction among those who attend. If you are unable to attend in person, then this interactive web site will hopefully give you a sense of the course and the spiritual potential it can open for you.
If you have not already done so, please review the Introduction and Mind and Heart sections of the curriculum, and also read our piece on Using the Bible.
When we approach questions of a sense of worthlessness or inadequacy, we inevitably confront the issue of judgment. We recognize that there is more than one kind of judgment. When we do something wrong, we may feel the pangs of judgment from God, our conscience and others. As painful as these feelings may be, they can ultimately lead to spiritual growth through repentance and renewal. On the other hand, there is another kind of judgment which leads to spiritual and psychological damage. This is judgment by others based on our race, ethnicity, religion, productivity or achievement. Such judgments have nothing to do with the morality of our actions. These judgments can debase us as children of God. These judgments are painful and frequent. In fact, they occur so often we avoid thinking about them while they are, at the same time, demoralizing us. Modern America is obsessed with the cult of achievement and productivity. We are measured and judged constantly from the time we are little children in school.
In our first exercise in reflection on these issues, we ask you to write a list of all the ways and times you have been judged. Try to include as many as you can remember, in as many settings as you can remember (e.g. in school; at work; in the family; at church; etc.):
How did this exercise feel? Where you surprised at the length of your list? Does this impress you with the scope of this problem?
Now read the Bible selections for this session. As you read, listen carefully for Christ speaking to you through the words.
These Scripture readings open for us Jesus in his teaching and healing. In Luke 12:6-7, Jesus is humorously strengthening his disciples for the opposition they will confront. He teaches them that God cares even for a small sparrow or a hair from their head. Surely, God cares deeply for all of us who are so much more than these small things. The story in Mark 5:1-13 about Jesus healing the man possessed with evil spirits is rich in meanings. It is interesting to note how the evil spirits affect the man. He withdraws from other living humans, living among the tombs, resisting human contact and restraint. The evil also turns the man against himself as he screams and cuts his own body. Don't these same reactions also occur in us when we are possessed with the evil of low self esteem? It is also significant to note the evil's reaction to Jesus. Recognizing the loving goodness in Jesus, the evil spirits plead that he not hurt them. So it is with us too; we become accustomed to the evil within us and resist God's loving kindness when it comes to us. The two short readings from the First Letter of John are distillations of Jesus' teachings and life. We truly are God's children (3:1). Whenever we love we become more a child of God because love comes from God and is God (4:7).
Describe in writing a time you have experienced God's love and affirmation of you (either directly or through another person).
The spiritual practice upon which we will focus for this session is the practice of memory. Remembering God's words puts a framework in our heart upon which God's presence and love can grow. This is an ancient practice among Christians. Each class session has a short passage of scripture for placing into our memory and hearts. Reciting and remembering these passages daily can be powerful. For this session, the passage is Psalm 23. Here are two versions of this Psalm. Read both versions out loud slowly. Memorize the one which speaks to you most strongly. After saying this Psalm several times, what feelings or thoughts occur to you? Write them down.
We suggest you end this session in silent prayer. If you would like Bill Samuel and/or John Smallwood of the Friends in Christ Core Ministry Team to respond to the thoughts you have written above, please give us your name and email address (and what further information you choose) and submit it using the Submit button below. If not, we suggest you print it for your own use using the print function of your browser. (Our tests indicate you should not try to email it to yourself using the Send Page function of your browser, as you will get only the preprinted information, not what you've written.) If you choose not to send us what you've written, but would still like to be in touch with us, please communicate with us using our Feedback form.
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Thanks for participating in this interactive session. We hope you found it helpful.
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