The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

One Thing Needful

 

Opening Prayer: (L. S. B. # 536 v. 1, 4, 5)

 

One thing’s needful; Lord, this treasure

Teach me highly to regard.

All else, though it first give pleasure,

Is a yoke that presses hard!

Beneath it the heart is still fretting and striving,

No true, lasting happiness ever deriving.

This one thing is needful; all others are vain

I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain.

 

Nothing have I, Christ to offer,

You alone, my highest good.

Nothing have I, Lord, to proffer

But Your crimson colored blood.

Your death on the cross has death wholly defeated

And thereby my righteousness fully completed;

Salvation’s white raiments I there did obtain,

And in them in glory with You I shall reign.

 

Therefore You alone, my Savior,

Shall be all in all to me;

Search my heart and my behavior,

Root out all hypocrisy.

Through all my life’s pilgrimage, guard and uphold me,

In loving forgiveness, O Jesus, enfold me.

This one thing is needful; all others are vain

I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain!

 

 

Part 1 - A Thriving Stigma

 


A. What does it mean to be stigmatized?

 

Definition

 

Webster’s Living Dictionary defines the word stigma: “Any mark of infamy; a blemish or stain, as on one’s character; a brand of disgrace attached to a person.”

 

Introduction

 

You and I live in a culture where people pride themselves in being accepting and tolerant of others. Much of this is a positive development when compared to former years where prejudice against God’s creatures ran more rampant. However, we note there is still room for much improvement. Despite this day when people are celebrating the election of our nation’s first black president, much intolerance and judging are quite prevalent both in our country and our churches. A great stigma continues to attach itself to people who live under various sets of circumstances. The stigma exists because the greater population is permitted to label those belonging to a smaller segment of the population.

 

In the Bible Study before us, we observe this is the case concerning many of the disabled and handicapped of our society. You and I have been authorized in this regard. Knowing virtually nothing about the person with a given disability, we have been sanctioned to say and believe what we wish: that he’s dysfunctional, lazy, not as bright, determined to feel sorry for himself or to get something for nothing. This is more than an unfair generalization. More importantly, unless we regard the handicapped in our lives as we do ourselves, sinners redeemed by the blood of Christ, we will inhibit them from seeing Christ and his Word as the “One Thing Needful”. The goal of this study is to give consideration to how we might identify the stigma that is associated with today’s handicapped, how we overcome it, and how we might better relate and minister to those who like the rest of us require the comfort and strength present only in Christ’s Gospel.

 


A Few of Scripture’s Stigmatized

 

1. Who are the stigmatized of Scripture and why are they stigmatized?

Are they the same as those stigmatized in today’s population? Why or why not?

 

John 9:1-2

 

Job 2:4-7

 

Job 19:13-19

Matthew 15:21-23

John 8:1-5

A Wrong Explanation . . . A Wrong Solution

 

2. What false teaching concerning sin fueled the stigma in both the New and Old Testaments? To what extent does this false teaching persist today?

 

John 9:1-2, 32-34

 

Job 4:1,5-9

 

3. What false teachings of today contribute to today’s stigma?

 

Psalm 100:3

 

Isaiah 46:3-4

 

Job 10:8-12

 

Isaiah 44:2

 

Marked as a Christian

 

4. Are there situations when being marked or branded is to be expected and a good thing?

 

Galatians 6:17

 

Matthew 5:11-12

 

John 15:20

 

Luke 9:23-24

 

Job 2:9-10

 

B. What are people so afraid of? (What’s it really about?)

 

Fear-based Judging.

 

1. What is it that drives much of the stigma we see in the world and our society?

 

Job 4:7-9

 

Job 9:27-35

 

2. What is the basis of wrongful judging?

 

Matthew 7:1-5

 

John 9:24-34

 

We have something to learn as we consider past and current attitudes regarding the handicapped in the Church. It is a lot easier to pity someone than to take a closer look at ourselves. It is easier to feel sorry for that certain somebody who has been dealt a “lousy hand”, than it is to admit that our problems are just as serious as they are all traced back to the fact that we’re sinners from birth.

 


Who’s really handicapped?

Isaiah 64:6-8

 

Psalm 51:5

 

We enjoy talking about a certain individual’s issues. This helps us cope when we’re obligated to work with this person or spend time with him or her at family gatherings. What we are really saying is, “you don’t have to take this person seriously.” However, we all have our issues. Whether we are overly sensitive, hyper, selfish, impatient, unduly aggressive or passive, stubborn, or weak-willed, the prognosis is always the same. Every one of us have our sinful quirks which often make us difficult to work with or relate to.


 

Do we see what we all have in common? Maybe not. Unlike the severely handicapped, we believe we can change how we are packaged. We can go to counseling, take that medication, even have that surgery. However, we cannot change what makes us tick. We cannot change who we are, a bona fide sinner.

 

C. What was God thinking?

 

John 9:1-7

 

Romans 9:20-23

 

Psalm 139:13-16

 

Exodus 4:11

 

Isaiah 45:9-11

 

Part 2 - False Coverings for Sale

 

A. Taking Attention Off Sin.

 

When sin is not identified as the cause of every human handicap, the Gospel will not be identified as the greatest need of the handicapped. In order to help the handicapped cope with today’s stigma, a new emphasis is sought in the church. Opportunities are offered in the congregation to help the handicapped get their mind off their sinful nature and on something else. The church becomes a meeting place to do what normal folk do at the very time that you meet others who are like you.


 

As an example, the church growth movement loves to do outreach to the handicapped and disabled. To help ease the stigma that has been fastened to them, the handicapped are given another reason for going to church: to foster relationships involving human love, friendship, and support. It is a chance to normalize your life as you increase your social calendar. Then again maybe this is why in their opinion that the rest of us are supposed to go to church.

 

1. Why do believers meet in God’s house however healthy or incapacitated they may be?

 

Matthew 11:28

 

Acts 2:42

 

Luke 11:28

 

Luke 14:15-22

 

B. Underscoring Human Attributes.

 

Overcompensate through various helps or entitlements.

 

1. Whose rights shall we give first consideration?

 

Romans 9:21

 

2. Where do we find the first citing in Scripture of man believing “he’s entitled”?

 

Genesis 3:6-13

 

Enable the handicapped by helping them tap into their self-healing powers.

 

“Joni and Friends”

 

“David Ring Ministries”

 

Many churches of today fail to blame the handicapped’s condition on sin. We are apparently much more civilized than that. Instead, we remember that they have certain “felt needs” just like we do. And we do what we can to satisfy these felt needs.

 

3. As society stresses one’s so-called ability to overcome one’s handicap through self-healing etc, the mentally ill especially become the target of stigma. Explain.

Romans 7:15-20

 

John 9:1-3

 

4. With an emphasis on self-healing, how do many churches these days slip into the same mindset as today’s atheists? How do we best encourage today’s handicapped?

Galatians 6:2-3

 

5. In what context does God speak about “felt needs”?

 

Galatians 5:16-24

 

Mark 7:21-23

 

John 12:43

 

James 1:14

 

Ezekiel 11:19-21

 

6. What does God have to say about our spiritual needs?

 

Ephesians 2:1-3

 

Romans 7:7-8

 

1 Corinthians 2:14

 

Matthew 5:6

 

 

Part 3 - One Thing Needful

 

A. A Cover Promised.

 

1. What is the covering God promises sinners?

 

Genesis 3:11-15

 

B. A Covering Applied.

 

2. How is a covering for sin applied?

 

Genesis 3:21

 

John 8:1-11

 

Isaiah 61:10

 

Revelation 7:13-14

 

3. In what sense do we put on the covering?

 

Matthew 15:21-28

 

Romans 3:21-25a, 3:28

 

Galatians 3:23-27

 

C. A Covering That is Ours for Keeps.

 

Luke 10:38-42

 

1. How do Mary and Martha represent various interests in the Church today?

2. What is the “one thing needful”?

See also: Matthew 4:4

 

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

3. How does Jesus encourage us as we strive to keep the right priorities in the Church?

 

See also: Isaiah 55:11

 

Luke 11:28

 

Luke 5:17-26

 

1. What does this account suggest to us about those who are disabled or shut in?

 

2. What does Jesus regard as the greatest need facing the handicapped?

 

See also: Romans 5:8

 

Ephesians 2:4-6

 

Philippians 4:10-13

 

 

3. What beef do the Pharisees have with Jesus? Who might they represent in the Church today?

 

4. What does this account suggest about Christ’s exercise of authority in the Church today?

 

See also: Matthew 18:18