Mt5v1-2 I enjoy such verses, the opportunity to think about the setting, the picture, the movements, the detail, the inbetween. The way we are with Jesus without words, the way Jesus is with us wihtout words. Allow yourself to be with Jesus without words, slowly, freely, for a while. The ordinary of sitting down and opening his mouth, which echo through Hb1v3 his sitting down at the right hand of the Father, after making purification for sins, and is brought back into this moment: Jesus, sat down on a rock, on the brink of a teaching truth, he himself the truth. His body's movement in space and time, he who is the Rv21v6 alpha, omega, beginning, end. This divine nonchalence, by which He comes close and makes us His own. What an absurd beauty.
Mt5v3-4 goo.gl/Ecjwa Hard to enrich these game changing verses. I am struck this morning by a reading of '..in spirit' rendered '..in your knower' – in your understanding and self-awareness, knowing yourself to be poor, knowing the truth of your own poverty in your knower. So, lucky are the undeluded, who participate in the Real. Likewise of mourning, they are false prophets who put on a brave face Jr6v14, Jeus, by contrast, wept Jn11v35, because the Real is hard and the world is broken. However, this reading is not yet strong enough, these are not platitudes, akin to 'the best things in life are free..' Jesus here turns any such notions of felicity, that aren't tied down, upside-down. That is, Mt5 is only true truth if anchored to Christ's resurrection, without which the beatitudes are folly, pointless stoic suffering grinding out a purification. The highest blessedness in the now must derive from eschatology of death defeated.
Mt5v5 A meditation on the difference between meekness & humility. Both are relational, but while humility's focus is on locating the self beneath the other, it is focussed on the self, a recognition of one's own status as not-all-that. Meekness is a desire not to invade or harm the other, to not-have so to prevent them from not-having. Meekness hedges itself in for the sake of the other. So humility tracks truth, perhaps, and meekness track love. Different focuses in the primary field of vision where given to the Kingdom truth that if you are to gain your life you must lose it, that love cannot be taken by force, and the only way to inherit anything of value is to give it up.
Mt5v6 Hunger and thirst, such that you are dizzy, dissatisfied and demanding where the glare of holiness is not present to consciousness. this ache in the mouth and belly is for both a presence to the righteousness of Christ already gifted to us and a striving towards the righteousness that is the working out of our salvation. The manifestation of these in many multiple magnificent multi-faceted ways, but each moment must contain this glory, otherwise starvation, dehydration, death.
Mt5v7 Are the beatitudes read best as observations or commands or promises? Where is mercy's guarantee? Is mercy an active saving force in itself? Is mercy its own reward? Must mercy wait for its compensation in heaven? .. Meditating on the true truth of mercy's multiplication. Where mercy is forgiveness, to not offer mercy is to harbour unforgiveness, which is a clenching of your palm over broken glass of past grievance – thus the mercy of forgiving is merciful to yourself? Where mercy is debt relief, consider what motivates your holding debitors to account, consider the chains of debt of x who owes to y who is in debt to z. If x pays y, then y can pay z. OR, if z had mercy on y, then y would be able to have mercy on x. BUT, consider your are z, and yo u see y's great joy at having mercy on x, how does that affect your debt collection dialogue with y. Mercy is paying-it-forward contrasted with gazumping?
Mt5v8 Purity is an absolute, purity is a binary state. You are either righteous or unrighteous, saved or damned, in or out, because sin is black-and-white. Does this 'purity' language help? Does this inspire contrition and gratitude to a slaughtered saviour, who gave it all, that we might all be all clean, spotless, totally? .. Purity is a process, a submitting the window of our heart to cleaning by Christ, and by his labour for our gradual sanctification we see God more and we see him more clearly (Mk8v24) through this window. Does this help? Does this inspire perseverance? Do I fully appreciate glimpses, moments of clarity? Do I savour and see out a seeing-of-God? Like a pearl of great price, it is a phenomenon to see, and it will cost everything. Everything: a binary absolute black-and-white.
Mt5v9-10 Peace & persecution seemingly in tension, as to be the persecuted is to assert that one's will, convictions, or experience cannot be bought or bent by the other, it is to refuse to keep the peace by refusing to be desired or expected. So. Peacemaking is not people-pleasing, it is not weak, it does not seek its own comfort, it has no interest in pandering. Not is to be persecuted to be controversial for controversial's sake – in this latter we do not seek first the Kingdom but our own gratification, a reaction against out own people-pleasing towards another deceiving-ourselves-and-the-truth-is-not-in-us, we tell ourselves that if we are being controversial then we must be doing it right, we must be faithful servants. But God is not deceived. Seek peace, integration, wholeness, seek it for the sake of others, seek it for the sake of Jesus. This is the way of the most blessed.
Mt5v11-12 Persecuted. I'm just too busy to be persecuted much. The million minor martydoms I could engage daily are frankly inconvenient, they would be to waste the potential of this important undercover culture-maker, don't you know. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of revival in a pre-ironic age of capital punishment when life was held cheaply. Where is the blessedness in being despised? How does it help me love London, to find myself reviled for theological convictions? You have to say some really offensive things to make people want to martyr you, how can that be loving, tolerant, Christ-like? .. But, when I manage to dis-comfort myself so, then there is v12. Rejoice and be glad! esv; Be happy about it! nlt; be exceedingly glad! kjv; rejoice and triumph! abpe; exult! dbt; be joyful! wnt. (Gk: leap for joy) This is the life we get to live. Are you up-side-down yet? 's cos we're dancing on the ceiling.
Mt5v13-14 There is an invitation to Ps34v8 taste & see that the Lord is good, a call that people find out for themselves, by sensory experience, the goodness of the divine reality. And I, you, us, we are the salt to their taste and the light to their seeing. We are another's holy medium, are always given over to the other, whether we like it or not, Jesus' provocation asks how we give, what environment we make for the other – bland or dull or flavour or colour? Your salt and light is for the whole world, all humans, we are told twice – so colour and flavour is made for the person's unique unsubstitutability, but also for the their universal humanity. // Oh these things for this morning.
Mt5v15-16 You, dear textee, are the light of the world. You are, you already are. You are the light and your light is for the world, you faith, your talent, your story, your goodworks, your love, your spirit-oxygenated god-fuelled Christ-ignited lumens blaze from you for the illumination of dark places. Am I committing a heresy of emphasis? *You* are the light of the world. You *are* the light of the world, and to put your lamp under a basket is to lie about who you are. Such an inversion will extinguish the light, or worse, it will burn down the house. I overstretch the metaphor, but I think that there is more power in considering your light as a fire, contagious, warming, and a little bit dangerous, that to consider yourself as a dull ecobulb of egocentric torpor. As Mournier's personalism is concerned to decentralise the individual and so unbasket oneself in ec-static radiation, ex-posing, comminicating love.
Mt5v17-18 Thinking of Paul in Acts 25 fighting by the letter of the law. Laws of all kinds are a language for values, which are expression of the universal human longing for truth goodness & beauty, found behind Jewish & Roman law, behind Socratic goodness, Buddhist interrelatedness, and even the relativist's self-defeating insistence of the truth & value of their doctrine. Jesus comes to fulfil each longing, each value, with himself, with mustard seed unlikeliness. But, make no mistake, for Jesus this does mean the breaking of some of the laws, a Sabbath's healing to draw hearts towards a deeper richer wellbeing, the fulfilment of the justice they long for. So, like Paul, work with systems that promote justice, that bring the accuser & accused face to face, knowing that only grace through Christ puts us where we should be, onlye grace unclenches fists, & so only grace fulfils the longing for justice.
Mt5v19-20 We're now in a terrifying two week crescendo towards v48's 'be perfect', so, upping the ante, raising the stakes, stick this in your wholly holey holiness clubs: unless you are greener than greenpeace, fairer than fairtrade, happier than gaypride, stronger than livestrong, fitter than slimfast, and more forbearing than tolerance ever was, you will not enter the Kingdom. You'll be left outside alone, at the gate peering through the bars, gazing across the chasm to the unattainable 'good' life.. The futility of moral striving compared to the need for perfection surfaces in Sustainability, as it does in sexual purity. Jesus' polemic is saving in these because it makes plain the impossibility of perfection without imputed righteousness. But also, it should save us from joyless arbitrary measures of how-far-is-too-far which falsely consider sexual restraint as a carbon-tax on our true satisfaction.
Mt5v21-22 There are all kinds of murderous angers in our hearts, unkind insecure jealous resentful hatreds. The death instrinct, the Freudians tell us, which goes deep through our being, our conscious & unconscious ways. We must recognise the ambivalence with which we love, we will not love well,we will not love with purity of heart when left to ourselves. but here's the truth to go with it: Christ the light of the world came to dispel the darkness of our hearts. Not superimposing himself onto us, not sticking his light over our darkness to hide it, but dispelling it, changing what we are, reconfiguring us. So it becomes possible, through Christ to be the pure of heart. to be free of the resentful fearful death drive. Jesus is the means by which agape eros philia storge triumph in our hearts. Come Lord Jesus.
Mt5v23-24 There is a certain self-evidence to these thought crime discourses, everyone knows one thing leads to another, and everyone understand that anger leads to hate leads to the darkside. Jesus adds to his an indictment of hypocritical displays of piety or unanger, as 1Sam15v22. Again, the world gets this, and perhaps too much, in condemning flowers bought as necessarily indicative of infidelity. .. I am particularly struck by 'the altar'. What is an altar? Today? For me? We can read this as instruction to have 1Ti2v8 'Holy hands' for church on Sunday, and draw this out to Rm12v1 'bodies as living sacrifices' in all of life all that I do for the Kingdom and for joy, at all times – a unity made fro constant worship and it I am an uncompartmentalised vessel for holding living water called to constant worship, I cannot hold water in Jer2v13's broken cisterns, and I cannot pour our to God water I owe to another?
Mt5v25-26 The legal imagery of the courtroom obviates all the elusive ways of our hearts each moment. We are always at all times, facing an accuser, self to other, other to self, or self to self. So, there is always the need to come to terms with our accusers, the need to move towards deeper reconciliation & shalom never leaves us. Struck this week by the need to acknowledge these accusations all about us, that Jesus might be allowed to work his work of reconcilliation. For without Jesus you will pay every penny before you get out, that is, you will pay every day of your life, these accusations will ensure you are never fre. You will be a slave to your habits, determined by your developmental formation, unless the way of reconcilliation lifts the train for the tracks.
Mt5v27-28 WWJD NSFW? SO hard to apply Jesus' thoughtcrime teaching on lust with nuance, rather I oscillate between a helpless snared flailing in the teeth of every tube advert and a conviction that the burqa would make the world a better place. .. Once you have got beyond a reductive definition of adultery being only that which breaches your prenup if caught as Clinton or Andrew Marr – which is our culture's you-have-heard-it-said-of-old, what then? What do you do with the sprawling venn diagram of all arousal being tantamount to unfaith? How can I be less lustful and yet remain authentically sexual? How, as an object of desire, can I make myself less lustable without obscuring my personhood altogether? Jesus, tomorrow, says make war, Peter 1Pt1v14 confronts lust as 'ignorance', so get wise to the motives behind our sexual revolution. But above all, know yourself beloved, which is the antidote to addiction.
Mt5v29-30 So Jesus preaches a doing of the lesser of two evils. Because moral philosophy is only good for something because we exist in a reality where demands on us come into conflict, runaway trains and that, Jesus gives us a blueprint for a certain kind of case. Namely, it is better to do violence to a condition, even a good condition to prevent the greater evil of falling into a habit, tendency or disposition that is sinful. Your habits trump your condition. If a friendship, circumstance or technology causes you to sin, habitually, compulsively, then cut it off. You will lose its goods, it is true. It is not good to be without eye or limb, but Jesus tells us this is no excuse, this is the lesser of two evils, and he pedagogy leads us thus, towards the emptiness of our excuses, towards the greater joy of himself.
Mt5v31-32 One man with one woman for one lifetime has always been controversial, difficult, impossible. Even when acknowledged as a narrow road, no one sets out on the journey planning to get divorced, so what happens? Hearts harden Mk10v5. So easily. So quickly. There lies a creeping calcification waiting to embrittle my veins, and when embrittled, my ossified hand in your would shatter and that hard glass held too tightly would puncture raw you flesh. So easily and so quickly. Oh God guard my heart from the brittleness of bitterness: the walls of porcelain defence I build round my shame; the barbs of greed; the suffocating egotism brought to bear on a fragile union. Lead me to Ez36v26's new heart, renewed without ceasing. In this confidence we humbly proceed. .. So consider also our marriage to Christ, 1. the necessary vulnerability imaged in circumcision; 2. the nullifying effect of spiritual 'porneia'.
Mt5v33-34 Jesus knows the ways we use &abuse words, holding them at a distance from our hearts & bodies, using them to conceal, manipulate & self-deceive. In love with the Mount's sermons' way, which uncovers what really goes on in our hearts, and lays before us a better way, let us take heed of v30's cutting-off as we weave our words today.
Mt5v35-36 I've got a world-wide warrantee, satisfaction guarantee, if you ain't happy, then just send it right back to me.. .. Oaths, guarantees, promises, are a curious phenomenon. And, at a certain level their 'evil' is unrelated to the truth value of that which is promised (v37). Anything trying to leverage more truth than truth into a “Yes” is trying too hard, is taking power-over, is necessarily introducing dishonesty? .. Of 'swearing by the city', does this apply to branding? Eg. Rimmel vs Rimmel London.. Reasons why we are in London include gaining the power to have our CV 'swear' by London? Beloved, know that you are sufficient, your portfolio can speak for itself, you don't need Babel's seal of approval. .. Of swearing by you head. Your are not your own to offer as collateral, risking your head to 'guarantee' your word, risking your family to show commitment to your job is dangerous and dishonest.
Mt5v38-39 Mercy justice, because Jesus reveals what real justice is like, & what real justice is not like, just as the sermon reveals real sinfulness beyond skindeep. Jesus casts off two-dimensional pictures of human reality, including flourishing & including punishment. There are surely practical applications for this week to be assimilated & embodied, but I am full of wondering what Jesus teaching here is can should apply to the doctrine of atonement. If Jesus' teaching brings us closer to God's heart & ways then these verses tell us something of how God responds to our sin, that is, our wronging him, hitting her across the right cheek. So the cross is not God repaying an eye for an eye (even if it were his own eye), but the cross is like God turning the other cheek? Is it? Absorbing injustice rather than repaying it, such that, identified with Christ we are made these new creations. Questions yeah..
Mt5v39-40 Remember that time when we were stronger than God Mt26v67 Mk14v65 Lk22v63 Jn18v22? We slapped him around. Lest anyone consider this a coward's creed, lest anyone think Jesus intended loopholes, he lived out the logical extension of this staggeringly bold philosophy of of non-violent resistance (in this he was 'resisting' us?). Esvsb at its most flailing on these. Walter Wink goes some good distance with the 'other cheek' as a device calculated to make an injustice visible in thoughtful protests. Are these verses comprehensible to those not of the 99%? And, if these verses are not to subtly become a license for embittered passive aggression, where can I find the love to protest well? If these are a pattern for protesting injustice, and if Jesus comported himself towards me in this way, how then should I love my enemy? With suffering intentionality, will their best self-awareness.
Mt5v41-42 Always give, always lend. Always. Always? On generosity. & on od showing me my own lack of generosity. On the ways that superficial generosity can mask and prevent a deeper realer generosity breaking out. Real generosity always extends itself. Can it be as simple as this verse suggests? What would happen if you gave everything that was asked of you for a week? what of people's asking for bad things? Of unsustainable boundaries? But we are being told that there is never not a time to extend oneself. You must always engage with the other's appeal. even if it is to discern the appeal behind the appeal. So there is always a demand on us, the Levinisian face to face, Jesus calls me to a harder generosity. Jesus, transform my ungenerous heart to be generous as God is generous, in thought word deed. Amen.
Mt5v43-44 Who is my neighbour, who is my enemy? Coincidings.. T prayed this yesterday, with characteristic innocent ebullience, praying over the future home of the Pawlett Jacksons, asking that God would lead us in emphatically heterogeneous hospitality, or welcoming those not possessed of an oxbridge lingo.. The division of the world into neighbour/enemy begins with such subtle cliquing, subtle hierarchies of value, subtle exclusivity of language, an identification of 'us' comforted by understanding itself against a 'them'. Once there is a hairline fracture of tribalism, it only takes minor competition for a scarce resource to become enemies. .. Jesus advice here is not a keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-closer, not even a Hope-of-the-States keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-won't-matter-in-the-end. But Rm5v7-8 Love, keep loving, because we can, because God loves us even as Others.
Mt5v45-46 Jesus responds to Ps97v11 with a new grace. I live in ridiculous grace, waves of mercy. I am always receiving the grace of sun's shine on my small dark unrighteousness, I receive it from others Mt13v43, who in loving me shows me God. So then ungenerosity will not do, giving to those you like 'cause they're like you isn't generosity. It isn't like the grace I have received, which is sunshine on unrighteousness, I pray to be grace given as received.
Mt5v47-48 (1) Comparative holiness, (2) unholy huddling and (3) being perfectly holy. (1) '..what..more..than..?' More. We are called to be more, to give more, to love more, because we know there is more and we have been given more. Christianity believes that reality is constantly more-than, that s why we hunger and thirst 5v6, Ps63v1, see Ponsonby's More: goo.gl/wNdev We are those to whom More is given Lk12v48 we are those who are forgiven More Lk7v47. So we sing, there must be a Hughesian More than this.. (2) Jesus' inclusivity of indiscriminate unhuddling here can be reconciled with the apparently sectarian preferential exclusive loves of Jn13v35 Jn17v9 Rm12v10 because love expressed for believers is motivated by mission. Love for believers is essential maintenance of a club which exists for the benefit of its non-members. Jesus relates this to wedding invites explicitly and at length in Lk14. (3) Be perfect. (Gk. Be teleioi.) That is, be your teleological seld, be more and more the person that God is refining you towards. I am struck this morning by a meditation on types of perfections: perfectio vs excellentia, perfect in substance vs perfect in purpose etc. Perhaps clarified by analogy to ways that we could make architecture more 'perfect' in this sense, more 'complete', less platonic, more exuberant, less abstract, more fully alive, less overwrought, more a redeemed and redemptive melange, less a cruelly reduced singularity, more perfectly situated, less generically reproducible, more Here and Now, less utopian perfections of nostalgic idylls.