Friday, March 25, 2011

“You Have Heard It Said, But I Say”

Often we as Christians get caught up in the same struggles and, dare I say sins, as everyone else in the world.  We, like others, are also good at rationalizing and justifying our sins and our actions.  I have even heard myself, and others, say, “well, that may be true, but at least I haven’t murdered anybody.”  This is, in fact, a good thing, BUT, Jesus calls us to a higher standard!  When I feel angry at others or jealous of others, I often turn back to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount” for Guidance.  Here is what Jesus calls us to in our relationships with others.
"You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, `You shall not murder'; and `whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, `You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21ff)
“First be reconciled to your brother or sister,” and then be reconciled with God.  This is one of the hard sayings of Jesus.  Sometimes those who are closest to us really get under our skin, and if we are honest, we get under theirs.”  We disagree about how to raise our children, or politics, or how we understand the Bible and whose understanding of God is better, and many other things.  It is important for us to know that Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbor as our selves does not require us to agree on everything, it simply requires that we love one another as God loves us. 
As members of the Body of Christ, the Church, God calls us to continually forgive and be forgiven.  Being forgiven may be the most difficult part of the equation because it requires us to first admit that we have hurt another human being.  Once we have forgiven a brother or sister, or been forgiven, it may still take time for reconciliation to take place and sometimes, we may never be reconciled to the other.  Even when reconciliation is not possible, the act of forgiveness liberates us to return to the “household of God,” and move forward into the future of God.  Jesus reminds us in the scriptures that He “came into the world that we might have abundant life.  The gift of forgiveness is an important part of this abundant life.
The writer of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy records God’s message to us this way. “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days." Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Blessings and Peace

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