“God helps those who help themselves.” That just makes so much sense and rings so true, it has to be a verse from the Bible. Actually, it’s the most quoted verse that isn’t in the Bible, and furthermore, it is the opposite of what the Bible consistently teaches. But as with all really good lies, there is always just enough truth to get us to take the poisoned bait!
“A BUG’S LIFE” is a 1998 Pixar animated adventure comedy inspired by Aesop’s fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper”. The story centers around an ant colony on a tiny island in the middle of a small stream who are oppressed by a band of marauding grasshoppers, lead by their evil leader Hopper (voiced by Kevin Spacey.) Flik is the innovative, but inept ant who is always trying to invent things to improve the ant’s ability to secure not only their own food for the winter, but the food the grasshoppers are also demanding as tribute. But alas, Flik ends up making a mess of things, thus requiring him to make the hero’s journey to find help, which turns out to be a group of circus insects Flik mistakes for warrior bugs. When the grasshoppers return for their food, Hopper is prepared to make sure they know who is in charge, and to quell any thoughts of an uprising. But when the ants realize that together they are more than enough of a match to defeat the grasshoppers, its game over for Hopper and his tyrannizing band of misfits.
C.S. Lewis’ inspired novel, The Screwtape Letters, chronicles the advice an older, experienced demon, Uncle Screwtape, gives to his demonic nephew Wormwood, as to how to keep Christians from discovering who they are in Christ and their true potential and power if they walk by faith and trust God’s Spirit in and around them. One of the surest ways to neutralize the threat vibrant Christians would present to the kingdom of darkness is to keep them focused on their own ability and keep them from linking together and truly functioning as the body of Christ. The surest way to do that is to disguise pride as a religious and pious value to rely only on yourself, and ask only for strength to do life yourself, rather than humbling ourselves and joining forces with our brothers and sisters who truly make up the body of Christ.
The result is we fail to live up to and into the plan Jesus presented and Paul celebrated. Rather than “me,” the church was truly going to be “we.” The “Body of Christ,” empowered by the “Spirit of Christ” would beat on the gates of hell as a force for good. Unfortunately, we so easily play into the hands of the darkness by insisting on living by stupid lies told as the truth: “God helps those who help themselves.” The truth is God is waiting to be a partner, not a spectator, and to make living life a team effort as we do life together.
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. If not, believe because of the things I do. I am telling you the truth: those who believe in me will do what I do—yes, they will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son. If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.
So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions. In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. So we are to use our different gifts in accordance with the grace that God has given us.
More Sunday. Here’s what I have on my desk…
THE POPCORN PARABLES SERMON SERIES IS HERE! Our popular summertime sermon series, “Popcorn Parables” is under way! This year’s theme is “Leap of Faith: How do we live “BIG” in a dangerous world? How do we courageously pass on what we’ve received?”
Remaining 2017 Popcorn Parable Schedule:
Sunday, July 23rd: A Bug’s Life
Sunday, August 13th: Philamena (Movie Preview at St. Andrew: Friday, August 11th at 7:00PM)
Sunday, August 20th: Of Gods and Men (Movie Preview at St. Andrew: Wednesday, August 16th at 7:00PM)
Sunday, August 27th: Bonhoeffer (Movie Preview at St. Andrew: Friday, August 25th—Potluck at 6:00PM, followed by movie preview—save the date—more details coming soon!)
SPECIAL CONCERT FOR HABITAT FOR HUMANITY! On THURSDAY, AUGUST 10TH AT 7:00PM St. Andrew will be hosting a special jazz concert. Grammy Award winning Danny Coots and Grammy nominated Brian Holland will be performing in a benefit for Habitat for Humanity. The concert is FREE, but an offering will be taken for Habitat.
PASTOR RICH IS STARTING A PASTOR’S BOOK CLUB! The first book we will read is “What is the Bible?” by Rob Bell. Pick up your book here at St. Andrew or purchase it on your own. The Book Club will meet on Wednesday, August 23rd at 7:00PM and Sunday, August 27th at 11:30AM for a book discussion. Plan to have the book read before the discussion date and pick the date/time that works best for your schedule (it is not necessary to attend both discussion dates).
COME RIDE WITH PASTOR RICH IN THE 4TH ANNUAL PEDAL FOR PROTEIN EVENT
September 17—23, 2017
Come ride with Pastor Rich and others in our Presbytery! Tour beautiful Northern California, on this landmark ride beginning in Occidental and traveling through the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys to St. Helena, then through Napa and Sonoma Valleys and back to Occidental. Choose to ride the entire tour over 6 days, or choose a one-two day ride through Sonoma County. Your participation will help food pantries in the Redwoods Presbytery to provide Protein rich food such as Peanut Butter, Canned Tuna, Chicken and Milk to Families, Seniors and Children. All funds raised will be donated through local Food banks. After you register, its easy to create your own fundraising page.
Questions?/More Information? Contact Patty Sanders through the church office at 707-996-6024.