The danger we have as faithful people reading and hearing the Gospels is that we can often dismiss the Pharisees and others as simply being enemies of Christ, and therefore, they are of no concern for us who are Christian. Yet, the Pharisees are a cautionary tale for the “religious” Christians: we can get so caught up in our own purity and righteousness, we forget that we are sinners like everyone else, and we demand people be like us, instead of being with them wherever they are — we demand sacrifice and ignore mercy. We become spiritual tax-collectors — abusing, extorting, threatening, coercing in the name of God.
I always think how disappointed the paralyzed man must have been when Jesus declared his sins forgiven. I know we are all religious, so the sin part seems to be obvious, but the man is not brought to Jesus to be forgiven, but to be healed.
Matthew’s Gospel begins and ends with the statement, or the promise, that God is “with” us. The word “with” does not only mean company, as in God is in our presence. The word “with” also is used as “for” and “solidarity.” We tells someone, “I am with you,” meaning: “I am for what you are doing,” or “I am in solidarity with you.” The word “with” also is used to mean “understand.” When someone who is listening to someone says: “I am with you,” they mean: “I understand what you are saying.” So Jesus as God With Us is a declaration that God is in our presence, God understands us, and God is for us and in solidarity with us. As Karl Barth says: Jesus is God’s “Yes!” to humanity.
Being a Christian is not about not doing things that are wrong, but it is about doing things that are right. It is about adopting a certain attitude that fuels those right behaviors that are positive and proactive and which transforms us as well as the world.
Fundamentalist at my door: Are you saved? Me: (Smiling broadly) That’s a very interesting question. I guess I would have to answer: Yes, I am ALREADY saved, as the Bible says in Romans 8:24 and Ephesians 2:5-8. But, I would also have to say that I am BEING saved as it says in 1 Corinthians […]
One of the problems I have always had is that I tend to believe what I believe. I take what I believe seriously. This is one of the reasons why I left the Reformed Tradition. (This is in no way an attempt to bad-mouth the Reformed Tradition, only to explain a point of view that […]
Jesus said to pray for your enemies, so you better start praying for yourself! When you start talking torture, when you withhold justice, when you withhold food for the hungry, drink to the thirsty, money for the poor, medicine and medical care to the sick, when you hate, when you spend billions on a jet […]