Category: Living in the Image of God

Submission to Lawful Authority—Due Process for Objections

Living in the Image of God M03S08

Discussion of Christ teaching regarding the temple tax continues with interactions among Saul, Jonathan, and people of Israel; to understand that an objection against lawful authority must conform to due process. The interactions provide two examples of an objection against an order of the king. One did not conform to due process and led to prosecution of the objector. The other, an objection by collective decision of the people, resulted in overruling the king and illustrates due process by collective decision. In modern-day societies, a collective decision could be channeled through the legislature, judiciary, specially authorized persons, referendum or ballot initiative, or public protest.

Submission to Lawful Authority—Due Process for Objections 10:32

This study is the second of a three-part series on submission to lawful authority: based on
Christ teaching regarding the temple tax. As we discuss in the first part, he chose to pay the tax despite recognizing possible grounds for objection. Our discussion in this study focuses on understanding that an objection must conform to due process in obedience to lawful authority. We discuss examples from interactions among King Saul, his son and second-in-command Jonathan, and the people of Israel. The interactions occurred during a military campaign.

The interactions provide two examples of an objection against an order of the king. One example did not conform to due process and led to prosecution of the objector. In contrast, the other example shows that an objection by a collective decision of the people resulted in overruling the king and, thus, illustrates that a collective decision of the people conforms to due process.

Also, we identify several forms of collective decision of the people in a modern-day society: such as a decision of the legislature, judiciary (or court system), specially authorized persons such as tax collectors, referendum or ballot initiative, or public protest.

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Christ Teaches Submission to Lawful Authority

Living in the Image of God M03S07

Christ interactions regarding the temple tax convey a message of submission to lawful authority as an aspect of human relationship with God. He chose to pay the tax despite potential grounds for objection. Submission to authority is God’s mandate conveyed through Prophet Samuel’s interactions with the people of Israel, when God delegated to government the responsibility to reign over the people and authority to execute the responsibility. Paul summarized the relationship in his letter to Romans—Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Christ Teaches Submission to Lawful Authority 10:50

This bible study begins a three-part series on understanding human interactions with lawful authority. We discuss Christ interactions regarding the temple tax to understand the basis for submission to lawful authority and assessing potential grounds for objection. We see that he chose to pay the tax despite recognizing potential grounds for objection. We begin the series with a discussion of the basis for submission to lawful authority.

We see that submission to lawful authority is rooted in God’s mandate conveyed through interactions between Prophet Samuel and the people of Israel, when God approved a government based on kingship for Israel. He delegated to government the responsibility to reign over the people and authority to execute the responsibility: “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights” [1 Samuel 8:9].

As we discuss in a previous bible study under Authority of Government—Israel Asks for King, the responsibility and authority that God delegated to government based on the interactions include the authority to collect taxes and other revenue, raise military and security forces, own landed property, and represent the nation among other nations.

To understand the basis for submission to authority, we discuss Christ interactions regarding the temple tax and the interactions between Samuel and the people of Israel regarding their demand for a government led by king. The second session in the series will discuss respect for due process in any event of raising objections against lawful authority. The third session will discuss submission to authority despite grounds for objection: to emphasize the principle of choosing battles to avoid in order to direct effort to more fruitful objectives.

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Human Interactions with God in Call to Compassion

Living in the Image of God M03S06

A call to compassion presents an opportunity for the recipient to function as channel for God’s compassion to the needy. The call could be received through sensitivity to the needs of others or by direct instruction from God. The recipient is called to recognize the need, care about the needy, and seek God to determine a path toward alleviating the need. God may intervene with miracle, often through human effort of the call recipient, to provide goods or service through the recipient to alleviate the need. We discuss examples from two occasions of Jesus and his disciples feeding a crowd of thousands in a remote place.

Human Interactions with God in Call to Compassion 13:47

Examples from the bible show that a call to compassion presents an opportunity for the call recipient to function as channel for God’s compassion. He can communicate the call to the recipient in several ways. We discuss one example where the recipient recognized the need through sensitivity to the needs of others and a second example where the recipient recognized the need by direct instruction from God.

Both examples illustrate that God calls the recipient to recognize the need, care about the needy, and work (while consulting with God) to determine a path toward alleviating the need. He may intervene with a miracle, often through human effort of the call recipient, to provide for the needy through the call recipient as a human intermediary.

The examples come from two occasions when Jesus and his disciples fed a crowd of thousands in a remote place (Mark 6:32–44 and 8:1–10). They illustrate receiving call to compassion, consulting with God to determine a path forward, and God intervening with a miracle to provide for the needy through the call recipient.

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Priority of Compassion

Living in the Image of God M03S05

There should be no law, custom, or regulation against providing goods or service to alleviate the need in a call to compassion. Whereas the procurement of goods or service could be subject to laws, customs, and regulations; there should be no hindrance by any authority against providing procured goods or service in an act of compassion, such as humanitarian assistance to refugees. We draw parallels from Christ response to Pharisee challenge regarding compassion on the Sabbath.

Priority of Compassion 13:09

We discuss Christ response to two challenges by the Pharisees regarding compassion on the Sabbath: to understand that there should be no law, custom, or regulation against providing goods or service to alleviate the need of others. Although the procurement of goods or service in a call to compassion could in general be subject to laws, customs, and regulations; providing the procured goods or service to alleviate the need, such as in humanitarian assistance to refugees, should not be hindered by any law, custom, or regulation.

We draw parallels based on Christ response to challenges by the Pharisees regarding acts of compassion on the Sabbath. One challenge was about the disciples picking and eating grains from a grainfield on the Sabbath. The other challenge was about Christ healing a man with shriveled hand on the Sabbath.

Jesus responded to the first challenge by referring the Pharisees to an interaction between David and the priest of Nob (1 Samuel 21:3–6), whereby the priest provided leftover consecrated bread to David and his men. He authorized them to eat the bread, having determined that he could give the bread to them without violating the religious custom regarding consumption of such bread. Similarly, Jesus, as the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27–28), authorized his disciples to pick and eat grains as they passed through a grainfield on the Sabbath, knowing that their action does not violate the spirit of the Sabbath law. The law calls for the seventh day of the week to be reserved as a day of rest so that the people and beasts of burden that provide household labor could rest and be refreshed for the next days of work (Exodus 23:12). Therefore, because the disciples were not at work in the grainfield but only picked grains as they passed through, they did not violate the spirit of the law.

He responded to the second challenge by explaining that an act of compassion, such as healing, has higher priority than observing the Sabbath; thus, does not violate the Sabbath law.

We discuss the challenges and Christ response. Additionally, we discuss the Sabbath law and David’s interaction with the priest of Nob, to understand the challenges and response.

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Compassion by Human Effort and Intercession

Living in the Image of God M03S04

Intercession and human effort by others can move God to grant favors to alleviate the suffering of another person. Therefore, a prayer for the needy will likely be more effective if intertwined with human effort to provide goods or service to alleviate the need. Four men, motivated by compassion and driven by faith, persevered to take a paralyzed neighbor to Jesus despite physical difficulties. Their faith, manifest through their effort, moved Jesus to forgive and heal the paralyzed man.

Compassion by Human Effort and Intercession 10:44

This bible study examines the events of Christ healing a paralyzed man: to understand that intercession and human effort by others can move God to grant favors to alleviate the need of another person. Jesus healed a paralyzed man because of the faith and effort of four men that brought the man to him. The four men recognized the need of the paralyzed man, committed to doing what they could to alleviate the need, believed he would be healed if they took him to Jesus, and persevered to take him to Jesus despite difficulties they encountered. Jesus was moved by their faith to forgive and heal the paralyzed man.

The account illustrates intercession motivated by compassion. The four men and their neighbors decided to take the paralyzed man to Jesus because they had compassion on him and believed that taking him to Jesus would be sufficient to obtain healing for him: “Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them” [Mark 2:3]. They took him to Jesus physically at the time because Jesus was with them in human form. Today, they would have taken him to Jesus by praying for him: that is, by intercession.

Furthermore, the account illustrates that intercession often may need to be intertwined with human effort. That is, a prayer by others on behalf of the needy often will be more effective if intertwined with human effort directed at providing goods or service to alleviate the need. The men were determined to obtain healing for their paralyzed neighbor by taking him to Jesus, organized themselves for the effort, took the man to the site, and persevered against physical difficulties to accomplish their objective of getting him to Jesus. Their intercession, intertwined with human effort, conveyed their faith and compassion to Jesus. He was moved by their faith and effort to forgive the man his sins and heal him from paralysis: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’” [Mark 2:5].

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Faith in Compassion

Living in the Image of God M03S03

If you recognize a need, care about the needy, and commit to doing what you can to alleviate the need; then you have received a task of God. He will guide you and would perform a miracle as necessary to complete the task. We discuss two examples: one regarding the compassion and faith of a Centurion that invited Jesus on behalf of his servant; and another regarding Jesus’ compassion for a bereaved widow. The events show that God could intervene with miracle to complete human responsibility in a call to compassion.

Faith in Compassion 11:49

We discuss two examples from Christ ministry to understand a relationship between compassion and faith. Compassion means a person recognizes the need of another and provides goods or service to alleviate the need. Faith in compassion means a person recognizes that a call to compassion is a task of God and that God will guide him or her to accomplish the objective. He will guide your human effort through and beyond your human capabilities.

In the first example, a Centurion had pity on his servant that was sick and recognized that Christ could heal his servant. He had compassion for his servant and faith that Christ will heal his servant. He invited Christ on behalf of his servant [Matthew 8:8]: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Christ healed the servant in response [Matthew 8:13]: “Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that moment.” The Centurion’s compassion and faith led to his intercession and resulted in healing for his servant.

In the second example, Jesus encountered the funeral procession for the only son of a widow. He had compassion on the widow, stopped the funeral procession, and restored the dead son back to life. As human, he had compassion for the bereaved widow: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry’” [Luke 7:13]. As God, he performed a miracle to restore her dead son [Luke 7:14–15]: “…He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.”

The examples illustrate that God can perform a miracle to complete human responsibility in a call to compassion. Therefore, in responding to a call to compassion, focus on your human effort while having faith of God guiding you through and beyond the limits of your human capabilities.

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Joseph Compassion for Mary—Opportunity to Hear God

Living in the Image of God M03S02

Humanly inexplicable pregnancy of Mary raised dilemma for Joseph that he resolved by compassion: recognizing a person in need and doing what you can to alleviate the need. Further, the interactions illustrate the value of allowing reasonable time to understand events and consider response. Joseph’s compassion for Mary bought him time and provided him opportunity to hear God and understand God’s purpose regarding his marital and parental responsibilities to Mary and the child.

Joseph Compassion for Mary—Opportunity to Hear God 11:17

We discuss interactions between Mary and Joseph, the human parents of Jesus; regarding Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus and Joseph’s response to the pregnancy and a Jewish law that appeared relevant. Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary but became aware that Mary was pregnant and he had nothing to do with getting her pregnant. The only human conclusion regarding the development was that Mary committed adultery.

That was a problem, because Jewish law prescribed severe punishment for adulterers. A man and woman that committed adultery were to be put to death. Joseph was expected to refer the matter to the Jewish authority in order to initiate judgment and punishment. However, we will see that Joseph decided he would not seek enforcement of the adultery law against Mary. He would divorce her quietly instead. The word “quietly” is a key part of his decision. It meant he would not expose her to public disgrace in any case.

As he contemplated his intentions, an angel visited him in a dream and explained the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy. Through the dream, Joseph understood God’s purpose regarding his marital and parental responsibilities to Mary and the child. He woke up from the dream, took Mary home as his wife, and began living his responsibility as Mary’s husband and human father of the Son of God. That is, Joseph’s compassion for Mary bought him time that provided him an opportunity to hear God and understand God’s purpose.

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Message of John the Baptist

Living in the Image of God M03S01

John the Baptist preached a message of new life in Christ exemplified by compassion, fairness in public service, and fairness in commercial interactions. The new life begins with repentance from the old way of living characterized by predatory human interactions and relationships. The old way focused on serving self and exploiting others for self-enrichment, not minding any cost to them. His message raised awareness for a lifetime commitment to Living in the Image of God and the promise of Christ ministry, for which he was the Forerunner.

Message of John the Baptist 8:42

Our program on Living in the Image of God continues this year (2022) with studies focused on understanding Christ teaching on Living in the Image of God based on the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In today’s session, we discuss the message of John the Baptist.

The bible provides a brief account of John the Baptist work as the Forerunner for Christ, describing his message of repentance for forgiveness of sins as he baptized people that came to him in the country around the river Jordan. He urged them to prepare for the Messiah by repenting from their current life of predatory human interactions and relationships and committing to a new life in Christ. He described the new life using examples from their community.

His message reflects the essence of his role as the Forerunner for Christ by drawing attention to Living in the Image of God. Christ would subsequently explain the new life in detail through formal teaching, parables, and real-life illustrations during his ministry. Therefore, our study of Living in the Image of God from the gospel begins with a discussion of John the Baptist message.

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Whose Battle is This

Faith, Human Work, and Miracles

Christ delivered the message of faith, human work, and miracles through his disciples on two occasions. You are committed to God’s purpose and motivated to complete his tasks and accomplish his goals; in humility through compassion, peace, and righteousness. Therefore, every battle you face belongs to God. Focus on your human work. He knows your difficulties, sees and encourages your effort, and will intervene to guide you to victory when and how he chooses.

Whose Battle is This—Faith, Human Work, and Miracles 13:05

God creates every person to represent him in interactions with others: to be for others what he would be for them if he lived with us in human form. He provides resources to empower every person to perform the responsibilities and blesses those that do. If your motivation is to perform the responsibilities and to follow methods and procedures consistent with Living in the Image of God, then every battle you face is his battle and he will guide you to victory.

Therefore, we can state the basis for our faith as follows. Seek to fulfill God’s purpose always.
In humility, to be his representative among people that he places in your network: to be a channel for his presence among them and his human interactions with them; and a conveyor of his image and impact among them. Then every task and every battle belong to him. He will lead you to complete his tasks and accomplish his goals, when and how he chooses.

Thus, faith drives human effort. Your motivation is to perform your individual responsibilities toward fulfilling God’s purpose. In humility toward God and toward other people, you are committed to compassion, peace, and righteousness; and you focus on doing what you can humanly do. God sees your effort and wants you to succeed. Your battle is his battle and he will lead you to victory. He will determine if a miracle is needed and intervene when and how he chooses.

Jesus delivered this message—the message of faith, human work, and miracles—through his disciples on two occasions, in interactions with them during two storms on the Sea of Galilee. We discuss the interactions to understand our faith as the driver for our human effort.

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Testimony of Man Born Blind—Part 2 Bolder and Articulate

Living in the Image of God M02S15

A man born blind received sight from Jesus and was motivated by appreciation to tell his story. Initially, he knew only the facts of his healing but did not understand what they meant regarding Jesus. He understood better as he discussed his experience more with others. In several interactions with the Pharisees, they pressured him to change his account to discredit or deny the healing but he was determined to protect the facts. He repeated the story more boldly and with greater clarity each time. The story led him incrementally to discover his mission of explaining to others that Jesus is the Messiah.

Testimony of Man Born Blind 2of2 8:03

This bible study concludes our discussion of the testimony of a man born blind that received sight through an encounter with Jesus. As we discuss previously under Testimony of Man Born Blind—Part 1 Motivated by Appreciation, his appreciation for receiving sight motivated him to tell his story. He told his neighbors and other relations, sharing with them a factual account of his healing, but he did not yet know Jesus that healed him.

His neighbors took him to the Pharisees and he repeated his story to them several times. The Pharisees tried to persuade him to change his account to discredit or deny the healing. However, he insisted on the facts. Furthermore, he told the story more boldly each time and with greater clarity regarding Jesus (John 9:13–34).

First, the Pharisees tried to use the fact that the healing occurred on a Sabbath but couldn’t agree among themselves. Second, they questioned his parents, expecting to establish the man was not the blind person they knew. However, his parents confirmed it was him but did not try to explain how he gained sight. Third, the Pharisees tried unsuccessfully to persuade the man that Jesus was a sinner. Finally, they questioned him again and used his answer as a pretext to expel him from synagogue.

He met Jesus again thereafter, understood him more clearly, and became better prepared to continue with his mission of explaining to others that Jesus is the Messiah. Thus, within a period of no more than a few days, the man progressed from being an insignificant member of society to standing toe-to-toe against the Teachers of the Law, proclaiming to them and others that Jesus is the Messiah. All because of his appreciation for receiving sight and motivation to tell others about his experience.

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