The verse of this previous Sunday was Romans 12:14:
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them."
This verse echoes a teaching which came directly from the mouth of Christ himself, in Matthew 5:44. In that passage, Jesus explains the command of Leviticus 9:18, that is, to "love your neighbor as yourself." Here, Jesus declares that the commandment calls for a love not just encompassing someone's literal neighbors, friends, relatives, etc., but which also includes persons which he might not be on the best terms with, or even be openly hostile toward. Going back to Romans 12:14, Paul shows his fidelity to Christ's teachings by exhorting the Roman believers to adhere to this hard teaching, a difficult task to say the least in Nero's Rome. A possible objection to this doctrine might be the accusation that Jesus himself "cursed" his rivals, the Pharisees. Not only is this assertion false, but the action it attacks is justifiable. Jesus, filled with righteous anger, publicly and justly condemned the Pharisees on multiple occasions for their rampant hypocrisy. He did not, however, malign them with profanity and insults. In everyday practice, Christians should show goodwill and charity to all, including people they don't get along with particularly well.
Sunday's sermon in the main service continued in our Pastor's study in the book of Romans. This week, the Pastor delivered a powerful message on the difference between being "religious" and genuinely faithful and godly. He highlighted six marked traits of religious people, such as a focus on appearances, feelings of superiority, and a reliance on knowing rules. It cut this parishioner to the core, let me tell you. The youth pastor in the High School service also continued in his parallel study in the book of Romans, telling of how we should harness our ambition for Christ. He also discussed possible barriers to sharing the gospel.
One momentous occasion for this previous weekend was the second Highlands Invitational for the Bible Quiz Team. For this two day event, teams both large and small, from as far as Montana to as close as Renton, gathered to compete against each other in feats of Biblical knowledge. In the end, Snohomish won the day in the Senior Championship, while this commentator was unable to gather who carried the Novice Championship. Must have been too close to tell!
To drop the color commentary, this was a pretty good invitational for Highlands. Highlands carried 40% of the weekend's Senior All Stars, with yours truly placing eighth overall. We didn't win too many matches, but we put up a good fight. We were pretty evenly matched with some of the other teams, such as Faith Bible Church, Faith Community Baptist Church, and Alderwood Community Church. It would have been nice to win a few more, but I suppose the real point is that we all know our Bible very well.