Good morning, Y’all!
As we continue our conversation about Jesus’ sermon as given to us in chapters 5-7 of Matthew’s telling of the good news story, Jesus has framed the purpose of God’s law as a means of compassionate and loving relationships for the greater good of everyone and now he offers some specific examples with a series of statements that begin “you have heard that it was said.” Matthew 5:21-48
Jesus doesn’t say, “you know,” or “as you’ve been taught,” or even that “it is written,” but gives this vague, three times removed, indirect and non-confirmable source of information. And you thought we invented this method of “knowing” in the 20th century with the advent of the internet and social media!
And to set appropriate accountability for our own behavior, he then follows each of these statements with “but I tell you.” Jesus offers us first-hand, direct from the source information for living as Kingdom people. How we live and how we treat others matters AND our motivation for doing what we do matters.
Just because I can say I’ve never physically taken another person’s life, doesn’t mean I haven’t caused damage to both my own soul and their’s by treating them as if they weren’t a living, breathing, worthy of love child of God. When I even think of another human being as a means to my own satisfaction, I have failed to see them as a living, breathing, worthy of love child of God. Just because I can do something legally doesn’t mean I should. Legal and moral are two different things and I must not use the law to justify my own immoral behavior even if I can.
It is better to give up what we want in order to seek the greater good of all people than it is to get our way. Life isn’t meant to be lived individualistically but communally; we are the body of Christ. What we do impacts others; we are bound to each other in God’s love for each of us.
Life in God’s Kingdom isn’t a competition or combat for the best seat won by a cycle of violence that leaves no winners in the end. Life in God’s Kingdom is a companionable journey in which there is always enough love and compassion for everyone, even those we don’t like. We can’t blame our own behavior on some meme our neighbor’s brother’s co-worker posted on social media. We have to be accountable not only for our behavior but for the sources we choose to shape our behavior.
Jesus tells us directly the being Kingdom People is about managing our own behavior, with God’s loving help and direction, so that we are best equipped to participate in bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth.
KNOW that you are a worthy of love child of God and everyone you encounter today is as well. Treat yourself and others accordingly.