Monday, June 30, 2014

Called Out...Together (Part 1)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6.14-15

Game shows have long been a part of the American culture. Shows such as The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy have been around for a long time. Other shows may not be on any longer, but lasted just as long (The Match Game, Name that Tune, Hollywood Squares, etc). In fact, game shows are so popular there is a Game Show Network so you can watch many of the games from yesteryear.

What does this have to do with church membership? Well, frankly it shouldn't have much to do with it at all. But this week's topic is our need to unite. And, one type of game show has to do with relationships. There have been dozens over the years but a few of the more prominent ones have been Love Connection, The Dating Game, and The Newlywed Game. Of course, these shows talk of uniting people together in a relationship. Yet, now a game show about relationships has invaded the church. "It Takes A Church" is a new game show about matchmaking set within the context of a church. Is this what church membership has come to represent in churches? If so, we have made a mockery of what it means to be part of Christ's church.

Yes, relationships are important – especially to God. But the problem is that we (specifically, those who have put their faith in Christ) – are often  unwilling to do what Jesus commanded us to do, even as we do things that He likely wouldn't want us to do (the game show).

Our example today. Matthew 5:21-26. These verses are found in the midst of Jesus' message we call The Sermon on the Mount. Most have heard several messages from this section of Scripture (Matthew 5-7). Seek first the Kingdom, the Beatitudes, Salt and Light, the Lord's Prayer, the wise and foolish man, etc. And some, no doubt, have heard a message on Matthew 5.21-26. But, how many of us have done it? How many, in the midst of worship have walked out because we knew others had a gripe against us? Not walking out without an intent to return. Rather walking out with an intent to reconcile in order that upon our return our worship might be pure.

In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus extends the Old Testament teachings. Again, think about the preceding verses. Jesus has just spoken to His listeners about the Beatitudes...has encouraged them to be salt and light...and said He has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. People might have been nodding their heads to this point, but then He makes the outrageous statement that if people want to know the Kingdom of heaven, then they need to be more righteous than the Pharisees. To you and I, we think of the Pharisees as bad people. And they were oppressive, but in a way to try to get people from sinning against their image of God. Let me give you a comparison (though an imperfect one). For someone to hear that they must be more righteous than the pharisees would be something like you or I needing to be a better basketball player than LeBron James. Or a better golfer than Tiger Woods – in his prime. It simply wasn't possible, or so the people thought.

So, Jesus is teaching of a need to be more righteous than the Pharisees. And in Matthew 5.21-26, He says it is better for us to first reconcile with others before we present our offerings to God. Is this really what Jesus wants? If so, is it even feasible in our day? Yes. because Jesus is concerned with our heart. And yes, with humility and courage. Why? Because just as Jesus came to reconcile us to God, he expects us to reconcile with others. In Part 2, we will unpack these verses (vv. 21-26) to better understand what Jesus was teaching - and why!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.