Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Easily Distractible

In the teachings of "The Sermon on the Mount", a couple of things have always stuck out to me. First: The whole thing ends with the admonition to do the things written in it and not just hear them. We sing the song about wise men, foolish men, building houses, and tell each other to "build our house on the Lord Jesus Christ" but the verse has narrower application than just being like Jesus. Specifically, we are told to DO the things just mentioned in chapters 5, 6, and the previous part of 7. We can't have a life with a firmly built foundation if we don't love our enemies, if we don't control our senses, if we constantly worry about everything. This Sermon isn't meant to be known, or merely heard, it's meant to be practiced.

The second big thing that has always stuck out to me has to do with how we handle the non-believer's favorite passage of scripture: Matthew 7:1-5.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
--Matthew 7:1-5, ESV.

We're not to judge, but the focus, instead of being externally non-judgmental, is placed on becoming internally holy. We are not to condemn others, because we know what to do, and we don't do it, so start doing what Jesus has commanded, then we might understand how sin has trapped people. We all have a problem. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has that plank Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:3-5. Believers, non-believers, back-slidden and "Saint", our sinfulness has distorted our perception to the point where we are ever seeing but never perceiving. Further, our lack of discernment in our own lives can influence how others receive our message. People refuse to believe that the grace of God saves us if we never show grace. People don't accept God's love, because they don't see God's love in us. Furthermore, if we ourselves don't take care of the sin in our lives, it cheapens the Gospel in the eyes of those still caught up in the world, the pigs and the dogs.

Because we are crippled in our ability to perceive our flaws, we are susceptible to casting our pearls before swine. That's why Jesus' command to not judge is immediate followed by a command to be very judging.
6 Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

--Matthew 7:6, ESV
The Gospel is for everybody, Jesus' love is for everybody, but there is a difference I think between the believer and non-believer. The great temptation of modern Christianity is to presume that since everyone wants to be "Good Boy" that everyone's way to God is equal, and able to save. It's a common human way of thinking. In the field of computer programming, we have an expression: TIMTOWTDI. Pronounced "Tim Toady", it means "There Is More Than One Way To Do It", and it encapsulates the idea that a problem can have more than one solution. This is true when we consider things to which we can equally relate. Our reality flattens our relationships, so there becomes more than one route to along the same plane. Our relationship to God isn't like that though. There is a limited interchange between our existence and His. This is where TIMTOWTDI breaks down. There is not more than one way to get to Him because he is transcendent. We do not exist There until such time as we die, are buried, and raise again. First in baptism (Romans 6 talks about this), then in the future, when we die physically, and are given a new body in the resurrection. Finally, as we die to ourselves each day, sanctification takes us a little bit there each day.(SEEMINGLY RANDOM SIDENOTE CONNECTION: What will happen to us in the future is given greater precedence to what's happening now, what is happening now is directly related to what God did in the past, and what happened in the past was the plan all along. This is essential to my worldview)  We live for a different purpose. This is precious knowledge, and our best efforts at sharing this with others can be met with opposition because let's face it, people can be pretty horrible. Out of the same mouth comes both blesses and curses.

Sometimes it's very frustrating to deal with people who have things "Figured out man," who have deemed themselves experts in the field of religion. They quote Matthew 7:1 without hearing Matthew 7:5, much less with any consideration that they may be the pig or dog of 7:6. As we're sharing the gospel, we need to know our audience. How do they hear us? Are they dogs? Are they pigs? Many times a dog is pleasant to be around, and pigs are smart. Dogs hear without understanding, pigs eat without being filled. When you tell a dog a thing they don't understand (something like "Jesus is the only way to God"), they bark and attack: MATTHEW 7:1 YOU HIPPOCRITE! Try and give a pig real food (Jesus, after all, did say "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."John 6:53-56), and they will turn on you "ZOMBIE/VAMPIRE JESUS IS A LIE! I FOLLOW SPAGHETTI MONSTER, HE IS THE YUM!" They mock us because they have to.
Don't give them what's sacred.
Their destruction awaits them. Until them, keep the faith you show simple: ask, seek, knock for the opportunities to share faith. Pigs and dogs are easily distractible, lead them toward God's goodness. Let them find the way, and they will remember they walk on 2 legs not 4.

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