This is part 8 of a 14 part piece. Start here to read it through:
Get Up, Do Not Be Afraid! — Matthew 17:5-8 — As the apostle John points out, Jesus is the way and the word of God. As the way and word of God, Jesus will be revealed in his glory in the midst of our lives. Jesus instructs his followers not to fear, diminish, or dismiss the divine vision of God's work, but instead to embrace the mystery and revelation, and live on not in fear, but in realization of the revelation of God.
Become Like A Child – Matthew 18:1-4, Luke 9:48, Luke 18:16-17 – A friend recently told my 5 yr old that the reason why she was beautiful and he and I (also mid-thirties) were ugly was because she had come from more recently. I thought it was very cute, despite the implications of following it through to the end. However, challenging I find the idea being seriously considered in term of physical beauty, not that my friend intended it to be taken seriously, it must be very seriously considered in terms of the ugliness of our Spirit. Jesus commands us to not follow the pattern of the conventional wisdom of this kingdom, that darkens and ages the spirit through the constant ebb and flow of life's pain. Instead we are commanded to stay near the Spirit of God, our divine light constantly flowing out of spiritual proximity to his Spirit of justice and mercy.
Protect Children — Matthew 18:6-7, Mark 9:36-37,42 , Luke 17:1-2 — Continuing the thought from the previous segment, Jesus commands his followers to not only remain childlike themselves, but also to be diligent to protect the virtue and innocence of children. Jesus is not ignorant to the reality that devastation and pain will come into an individuals life, but he reminds that one's own spirit is destroyed by their participation in the damaging of the child's innocence.
Go to Offenders — Matthew 18:15-17, Luke 17:3-4 — Bitterness destroys the spirit of the one who holds onto it. Slander and gossip do not work to dispel the bitterness but rather to strengthen the position of the who feels their rights were violated in an encounter as the offender is further demonized in the assurances support by the hearers of the gossip. Alternately, when one humbles themselves and seeks the path of selfless sacrifice that requires listening to the other's understanding, baggage, and perspective on a conflict, the encounter becomes a bulwark against bitterness and instead builds bridges of trust and justice between the parties involved.
Forgive Offenders — Matthew 18:21–22 — Forgiveness is nearly impossible without the intentional decision to empty ourselves of our rights and instead take personally take on the consequences of our offenders actions. Forgiveness is rooted in the justice and mercy of God. It grows up, as testimony to the power of practicing resurrection in the new creation of life that is built in the space where the brokenness of the original offense started.
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