This is the eighth in our
The Sermon On The Mount
Whether there is snow where we live or not,
these next two posting will mean
"heavy shedding" for all of us.
We will be working our way through
drifts of difficulty - understanding aright
and embracing fully what are for most
the most difficult dimensions of
Jesus's call to discipleship.
The realness and viability of
our spiritual lives depends on
making it through to clarity and embrace.
Happily we can count on The Holy Spirit
for stamina and perseverance.
Dear All of Us,
I don't know how it goes with you,
but for me The Bible can often be a
- Psalm 137:9
Smash the heads of your enemies' babies
against a rock -
So much for respect life!
- Book of Joshua
Turns out that the Promised Land
was already peopled and
God had them evicted so
the Israelites could move in -
The locals are still soar about it!
- Numbers 26 and Matthew 1
Mile long genealogies and head counts -
with all these ancient analytics and
- Exodus 25 - 40
Encyclopedic, repetitive ritual regulations -
makes the Methodist Book of Discipline
and the Roman Code of Canon Law
look like simple little manuals
on how to change a tire
- I Samuel 15:3
"Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy
all that they have; do not spare them,
but kill both men and women, child and infant, ..." -
Hey, that's genocide!
- Genesis 19: 30-38
Lot's two daughters get Daddy drunk
two nights in a row and take turns
having sex with their father -
Definitely not a go for The Hallmark Channel,
much less a children's religious education class .
Now in all fairness scripture needs to be read
in terms of its time, place, culture,
the consciousness level of its people and writers,
the customs current, the literary forms of then,
and a ton more elements that factor into
what is written, how it is written and
what the basic meaning was and is for all its form.
Scripture is nothing close to a pulp novel written
by someone in Peoria for pleasure reading.
For all of the above the read is often
The roughest of the
for me is right here where we are
in this series on
The Sermon On The Mount
That's Matthew 5:38-48.
Now, I'm all in for the rest of it.
The Golden Rule, well, OK, most days anyway.
I get it and go with it about
- anger, lust, divorce, judging,
- not grandstanding at public prayer,
almsgiving, or fasting,
- a simple yes or no
to truth telling,
- making sure both heart and treasure
are in the same right place,
- and all the wonderful rest.
In all conflicted honesty, though, I choke at
I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.
So, let's go over this together.
Let's be completely Soul Sensitive.
Let's be totally Soul Honest.
Right now and right here let's face Jesus.
Let's see Jesus looking us right in the eye
and saying to us:
"Here's another old saying
that deserves a second look:
'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.'
Is that going to get us anywhere?
Here's what I propose:
'Don't hit back at all.'
If someone strikes you,
stand there and take it.
If someone drags you
into court and sues for
the shirt off your back,
gift wrap your best coat
and make a present of it.
And if someone takes
unfair advantage of you,
use the occasion
to practice the servant life.
No more tit-for-tat stuff.
Hey, come on now, Jesus!!
You want us to be
human punching bags?
This is more than a bit much!!
Well, Jesus does "come on now"
and that with more, much more,
TOUGH STUFF !!
"You're familiar with the old written law,
'Love your friend,'
and its unwritten companion,
'Hate your enemy.'
I'm challenging that.
I'm telling you to love your enemies.
Let them bring out the best in you,
not the worst.
When someone gives you a hard time,
respond with the energies of prayer,
for then you are working out of your true selves,
your God-created selves.
This is what God does.
He gives his best - the sun to warm
and the rain to nourish - everyone, regardless:
the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty.
If all you do is love the lovable,
do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.
If you simply say hello to those who greet you,
do you expect a medal?
Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up.
You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it.
Live out your God-crated identity.
Live generously and graciously toward others,
the way God lives toward you.
Well, there you have it. And so do I. But do we?
Can we buy in? Our spiritual lives,
us being disciples, are at stake here.
It's simply a "no go" to be a
when it comes to what Jesus serves up:
"I'll have one of these,
but I'll take a pass on those."
Yet and Yes, this really is
So let's go back over all this very slowly
in the coming week. That will highlight
where/how we are with this
It will also prime us for next week
when we will dig deep to get
the real sense and scope
of what Jesus says about
retaliation and reaction to enemies,
those who hurt us one way or many.
So, let's apply each utterance of Jesus here
to the worst/hardest case scenarios
in our personal, church, national and international,
real life social/soul settings.
Let's "get it down on paper,' or if better for you,
on a spread sheet.
We need to one way or another
spell it out so we can get a real read
on where we are with Jesus and
his way of responding to the painful bastards
in our private and shared life.
Of course that is not gentile,
Church Ladies Aid Society talk.
It is tough talk about the
Jesus says about the
with which we have to deal,
for example, whatever
our political persuasions, indeed
our political passions, in these
divided, anxious, angry times.
Under each phrase of Jesus we catalogue
our questions, conflicts, resistance.
Given that kind of sheer, stark, encounter,
how do we do with this
TOUGH STUFF ?
Are we really ready to
actually, practically, living out
this section of
The Sermon On The Mount -
not resisting the evildoer,
loving our enemies?
Or is all this too high a "Mount" for our climb?
And what about our establishment churches?
What about our social circle?
What about our business and work settings?
What about our sports and entertainment choices?
What about our judicial/penal system?
What about our military stance?
What about politics just now?
Can we see people through the political smog choking us,
see children of God, see brothers and sisters
with the same divine presence and DNA
at their core as ours even if
we are offended/hurt by them?
What about social justice issues - racial strife,
income disparity, excessive incarceration, immigration?
What about environmental matters?
What about militarism and international concerns?
What about red and blue not allowing
a white of respect, civility, cooperative compromise
and making it a
Red, WHITE and Blue
The scripture scholars peg these words of Jesus as
"the very words"
They are not the work of later Gospel writers
ascribing words to Jesus based on their lived experience
and that of the early church -
perfectly proper literary form in those days.
This is Jesus verbatim. Are we listening?
Will we hear him? Let's be real about that
and not try to explain him away.
That would only separate us, distance us as disciples,
from following Jesus, from
on living out
The Sermon On The Mount
Let's be real in hearing what Jesus says
and about where we are with that so far.
And let's be sensitive to ourselves and our
It may indeed be that
we just can't hear it, much less start to live it.
God is patient with us as we grow.
We do well to share in that patience.
So, let's do our best to sense, to catch on
to what and why Jesus is after in all this
and where we come down with him
Hey, this sounds like a lot of homework
- rough sledding -
for the coming week. Sorry about that.
Actually, though, all this is more
Let's have at it, pray and ponder,
and then we'll pick up here again next week.
We need to first honestly face the
and our actual, operative response.
Then we can begin to hear anew
the hard truth and beauty of what Jesus invites.
Anything short of that is sadly spiritual self delusion.
Next week we will try to plow through
the drifts of difficulty, dig deep, chip through
granite of our confusion, fear, our "so far,"
and strike it rich, discovering the seam of gold
in what Jesus says, invites and offers
as we understand it anew and life it freely.
"Wanna Be But"
Greetings to all our first time visitors.
How wonderful this week to welcome
large groups of you from
France and Russia.
We appreciate your company
a whole lot!!
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roughing it out with the
with plowing through.
Next week's sharing
will build on it
and hopefully get us
to the heart of what
Jesus is reveling here.
We'll have to dig for it,
and dig we will!!