In Matthew 6:1-18, we are looking at kingdom spirituality. It is so different than some of the normal ways that we do things. There is apparent contradiction because God wants his church to do good works (our corporate spirituality) that let people see the light of the kingdom. At the same time it is very clear that some of our spirituality needs to be done in secret. Jesus teaches that giving, prayer, and fasting are best done in secret before God alone. He is not contradicting himself, but it reminds us that we must explore the teaching.
It is not a stretch to say that much of our personal spirituality is done to impress the wrong audience. This seems like an accusation and it hurts. In reality, it is a correction that is much needed for our own spiritual health. Pleasing other people is a rat race that leaves us exhausted. We don’t have to please other people or even ourselves with our spirituality. The truth is some of us take personal pride in our spirituality that is also way off course. Our only responsibility is before God. That personal responsibility happens to have a corporate effect among Jesus followers and the world around us. Ultimately no one knows our soul and loves us like Our Father in Heaven and our worship is toward him. Our bodies are to be offered like living sacrifices (see Romans 12) to please a Father who is already pleased with us. Take a listen to “Secret Kingdom Spirituality” here and let me know how you think we should live out this apparent contradiction.
Do You Follow? Matthew 5:17-48 is so rich and so deep and so powerful. Jesus wants to shine the light on God’s will for human completion. He desires that we become complete and mature (Be perfect as God is perfect) and nothing less is acceptable. Jesus’ standard of the new humanity is remarkably pristine and no amount of rationalization will stand up to his scrutiny. At the same time we see Jesus moving toward broken people like us with love and mercy and forgiveness and in his loving atonement we find he is covering for our sin while his kindness leads us to repentance. We are worse off than we imagined and more loved than we dared dream.
How do we live in this kind of kingdom with this kind of King? Well, we live in the light as he is in the light. We live in love from the Father and bask in the same light that reveals our broken parts. This is the Gospel and we must revel in it. As Jesus moved forward to the broken and marginalized they knew his high standards and they marveled at his amazing love. Take time to explore the complexity and simplicity of this radical and scandalous love both taught and shown by Jesus. Take a listen to the message entitled Kingdom of Light from February 11 here. One of my big takeaways was that Kingdom spirituality moves from checking the box (not doing the big sins) to allowing Jesus to open the box and shine a light in. We know why we wouldn’t want to have him shine the light, but do you have a story of how he has brought healing through that process? Share it here.
At Issaquah Christian Church we have a roadside sign on which we can display text to the traffic on Issy-Hobart. Pondering this responsibility and opportunity, I often wonder what we are trying to accomplish. Are we advertising to consumers? Are we like a kiosk at the fair or a for truck at a market with just a little sumpin’ to spice up your weekend? Add a little bit of church to your Sunday! Isn’t it weird to think that the point of going to church services is to add some flavor to your life?
First of all, we are the church (or we aren’t). That means that we do not go to church (the called out assembly of God in Christ). We are members of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12). We do not attend the body of Christ. That is nonsensical on the face of it.
Second, our identity is in Christ. The church is not an additional part of our lives, it is the core of our new identity. We are in Christ . We are the church, it is the most real thing about us. Jesus said that family relationships have no claim like the body of Christ does on its members.
Third, when the church gathers for prayer, praise, and proclamation, it is to rehearse this central truth in our lives. We receive from God and we pour into each other.
There are lots of wonderful aspects of life that add flavor and spice. Church, being the church, however is not one of them. Christ is your life and he has called his people in his name to live out that life together. #BeTheChurch