Monday, August 17, 2009

The beatitudes and salt and light

So tonight we once again talked about how we are putting the beatitudes into practice in our lives. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourners, those that hunger and thirst for justice, the pure in heart, the merciful, the peacemakers, those that are persecuted for justice sake. Each of us shared about how we tried to live one of these out over the week previous. But we also talked about the very next set of verses in Jesus sermon on the mount (matthew chapters 5-7 in the bible)

These next few verses may be familiar to you. You are the salt of the earth, and you are the light of the world. See, in Jesus the kingdom of God has come, has begun. His disciples are called to walk in this kingdom community, and the beatitudes begin to show how radically different this is to what they see in the world, and even what they expect from the Messiah. It is not the powerful that are blessed by God, but the meek. It is not the rich that are blessed by God, but the poor. It is not those that have all the justice they could desire but those that are actually suffering injustice and longing for it. Jesus turns the world upside down. And then explains how this will effect the world.

Contrary to many of our Christian domination ideas, Jesus says that we will be a flavor and preservative for the world. We will not force them to live right, but we will give them a taste of something different, and we will keep the world from getting spoiled, just by our being in it.

And again, we are not to hide away and practice our kingdom outside of the world, or more currently, to create our own "Christian" version of culture that we hide out in. But instead, we become a light in darkness. Matthew calls us to not try and influence from the top, but instead to influence from the margins. To be a light in darkness.

So as we walk out these radical new ways of being, we become that which give the world a taste of heaven, that preserves the world for heaven, and that shines a light, that calls people out of darkness. This is how the kingdom is meant to influence, from a position of love, and service, not from a position of power


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Something I have been thinking about

If you look at the way Jesus starts his ministry in the three synoptic gospels this is what you find:

Matthew 4:23 (New International Version)

Jesus Heals the Sick
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Mark 1:14 (New International Version)

The Calling of the First Disciples
14After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.

Luke 4:14-20 (New International Version)

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."a]">[a]

20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,

So Jesus starts his ministry in all three of these gospels with a declaration of the kingdom of God, or what that means. Though each author is writing to a different group of people, this is what they see as the important part of Jesus ministry, and its beginning. He begins his ministry by explaining that a new way of life is begun in His life. That this new way of living is the rulership of God. That that this new empire of God, is begun in Him, (yet we know that it is also going to be completed in His return).


in John, the beginning of Jesus' signs (which John later tells us have special significance and will lead us to understand who Jesus is, and how we have life through him), is His actions at the Wedding at Cana. Here He turns water, set aside for ritual cleansing, into wine for the wedding party. Now there is so much in that. Jesus making huge amounts of high quality wine for a party where they already drank too much! The symbolism of taking ritual, and transforming it into a party! and much more.

However, if you look at things from an an end times or metaphorical way, you can see another interesting thing. Jesus starts his ministry by taking part in the celebration at a wedding feast. Now we often hear about the "great wedding feast" when Jesus and the church, finally get to be together, and the wonder of the fulfillment of history. But his first "sign" in John is becoming involved in a wedding ceremony and reception.

So lets put that with the other three gospels. Jesus starts his ministry in the three synoptic gospels talking about the beginning of something that we are to participate in, that will be fulfilled in its entirety, in the future. Now, and not yet. But in John, Jesus performs a sign at a wedding, that "begins" a party, that I believe symbolically, is the start of something that will be finished in the end times with the great marriage feast, the culmination of the kingdom.

This of course is just another layer of scripture, not more or less important from more literal truths, just something I have been thinking about. What is the application? I guess just the acknowledgment that all four gospels tell us of a way of living, initiated in Jesus, that we are invited to take part in, while waiting its fulfillment. I guess in Johns gospel we just see the celebration of it all, and are welcomed to the party