Saturday, May 19, 2012

Those Pesky Red Letters - Book of Matthew - Part 3

   Sorry it has been  couple days since I posted but I needed a little time to clear my thoughts and refocus.  Call it writer's block if you will.  Anyway, lets start where we left off, the parable of salt and light (Matthew 5:13).  This is one of those verses where context is huge.  In the age of Christ salt was very valuable.  In fact there were times that Roman soldiers were likely even paid in the mineral!  Therefore, first and foremost, people are the wealth of the earth.  But wait, there is more, isn't there?  Salt is essential for life and the people of Biblical times would have known that.  That is one the reasons it was valuable in the first place.  It also enhances food and makes it taste better.  It isn't hard to see that Jesus was telling the crowd in Matt 5:13 that mankind is important to the world and makes it a better and richer place.

   The other half of this parable is one of my personal favorite verses of the Bible, especially 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (NIV)  Doesn't that phrase read volumes to you?  As a people we aren't supposed to hide in a corner, we are supposed to get out and help people.  In fact, if it wasn't for that verse this blog probably wouldn't be here.  When another person looks at what you are doing they should be able to say, "wow, I wish I were that selfless and kind.  I wish I could do good things for people like that."  When you put the two together you get the big picture, don't you.  The first paragraph (5:13) lets us know how important what we do really is.  The second (5:14-16) tells us that people pay attention.  When we do things our actions are shown to the world.  It is important that we make the right choices and show how happy and healthy that lifestyle is.

   Verses 5:17-20 are a bit of a conundrum for me.  There is a commandment here that Jesus himself breaks.  The other issue is that there are parts of the Law of Moses that are hard to apply to society today.  Women aren't likely to sacrifice doves after they menstruate and we probably shouldn't stone a woman if she was raped.  As I understand it, church leaders commonly accept that we are no longer bound by Law.  Even Jesus talks about how the laws given to Moses were written as they were because the people were "hard-hearted".  This section is one of those areas that I think we should pray on.  It would be fun to get some discussion on it going as well.  It might not seem like much, but some of the arguments that are forefront in the media today are really tied to the concept that is written here.  Do we give the people around us grace, forgiveness and a little latitude or do we hold them fast to very strict Biblical Law.  Right now the church is in a grey area somewhere in the middle with different sects leaning more or less towards one extreme.  I think there is a lot of fear of change and that our faith can and will adapt.  Maybe we should quit fighting God and let him guide that change?  My personal feeling is that we should error on the side of hope and compassion and not condemnation.  The next two or three posts will still be in chapter five of Matthew.  As always, thank you for reading and God bless!

Part 2 <-Previous Next-> Part 4

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