This is part 2 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:
Honor God’s Law — Matthew 5:17–20 — This command is certainly a good starting point for those who wish to condemn the sick of the world. All of the “evils” of society are certainly called out in the law. However, we must remember that Jesus when asked to distill God's law to the one most important part, chose “Love God Wholly.” Then of his own addition linked that with 'Love your neighbor.' We are reminded here that God's way is a law of love that is illustrated in how we practice preservation and illumination.
Be Reconciled — Matthew 5:21–25 — Jesus has a tricky way of raising the bar on spiritual wisdom high above the level of conventional wisdom. Jesus reminds his listeners that where the world stops the cycle of violence at murder, even the hate itself will burn us up from the inside. Jesus commands his followers to practice reconciliation. This is not a command merely to 'fess up and take responsibility' but instead to go beyond responsibility to the selfless sacrifice, the intentional emptiness, the counter cultural denial of self interest and personal fulfillment. Practicing reconciliation, like practicing resurrection takes on the whole responsibility for the brokenness and labors until new life and God's light fill them.
Control Your Thoughts — Matthew 5:29–30, Matthew 18:8-9, Mark 9:43-47 — Here once again Jesus raises the bar above conventional wisdom of his day. “Do not commit adultery” is bounded set thinking. Jesus commands us to be anchored in a “centered set” thought life. As Paul reminds “for freedom you were set free” and “all things are permissible” Kingdom thinking is not dictated by a checklist of in/out radio-buttons, but instead it centers us away from the selfish lust for fulfillment and redeems us from the consuming destruction that conventional self oriented thinking leads to..
Keep Your Word — Matthew 5:33-37 — Truthfulness is a commission to live transparently. There are actually two commands contained here in these verses. The first is to not take oaths, and the second is to live as you speak. Transparent living does not allow for personal agendas and scheming. The only means by which to accomplish this command is to live so openly in front of others that your motives are not questioned, and your answers are not suspected. Selflessness and humble service have nothing to hide.
Practice Non-Violent Resistance — Matthew 5:38–41, Luke 6:29 — Here are three distinct commands that I have at great debt to Walter Wink, John Howard Yoder, and Mark Moore combined into one summarized version of the three. Jesus teaches here that the human tendency to “Fight or Flight” is not the only option. Jesus instead using relevant examples to his immediate audience teaches creative resistance rooted in love and redemptive practice. In other words, when faced with opposition practice resurrection by finding means to expose injustice to create space for new life and God's light.
Continue Reading Part 3 of 14
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