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.
Do You Follow? – Mathew 5:1-16- The Kingdom of Blessing. There are so many opinions by amazing scholars on this passage. A few of us have heard the Beatitudes so many times that we are at risk of not hearing the message as good news to the original audience. So many principles for daily living have been gleaned from this deep and wise teaching that we are also at risk of moralizing it as a standard of behavior a posture to attempt to be in God’s favor.
We know Jesus taught many times “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom” and on that hill in Galilee probably said more to the crowd, than these words we have from Matthew. Matthew has collected Jesus’ words, as an eyewitness, and delivered them to us. He is not a dispassionate observer but as a disciple and a master story teller. So what does he want us to know about how Jesus addressed the crowds? Do we remember who these people were? What was the makeup of this group who were first to hear the euangelion, the good news of the kingdom of God? Take a moment to set the scene together and feel the surprise about with whom God is pleased (i.e. has his favor, blessed). Take a listen to “Do You Follow? The Kingdom of Blessing” here and tell me what you think!
Nothing shakes me up quite like the words of Jesus. I’ve embarked on a teaching series through the Gospel of Matthew (The first book in the New Testament) and invite you to join me.
Question for you: Is a Gospel the same as the Gospel? Consider the following from britannica.com: “The English word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell (“good story”). The classical Greek word euangelion means “a reward for bringing of good news” or the “good news” itself. In the emperor cult particularly, in which the Roman emperor was venerated as the spirit and protector of the empire, the term took on a religious meaning: the announcement of the appearance or accession to the throne of the ruler.”
Is a Gospel the same as the Gospel? We’ll see in the Gospel according to Matthew (formerly named Levi and one of Jesus’ apostles) that a Gospel is a biography and that within the story of Jesus we find meaning to our story. The Good News comes to us that the rule and reign of the Creator God on Earth has begun again in King Jesus’ “accession to the throne.” The Gospel is the announcement that God has done a reconciling work in Jesus (life, death, burial, resurrection) to bring us into the kingdom as heirs and partners in his work.
Sometimes Jesus is hard to understand and sometimes Jesus is hard to follow. The Gospel of Matthew has a theme running through it about Hearing and Responding and actually the Hebrew concept of hearing includes responding especially with the Great News that the Kingdom of God has arrived on earth again. Do You Follow?
Listen in on the first teaching “New Beginnings” on iTunes here or from the Issaquah Christian Church website here.