Mt7v1-2 Hard to judge. The English language seems to carry exactly the difficulty of the practice of not-judgment within the range of the word itself: being judgmental vs displaying a lack of judgment; judicious use vs being prejudicial. A timely verse for the end of this season in journalism: have I learnt to not-judge well? When does art criticism become the export of a critical spirit? Where is the border of scoffing crossed? Perhaps these are the wrong questions. The 'judge-not' cri du couer of the individualist hopes in an I-am-an-island nothing-touches-me mode of immunity from judgment which is a hope for mere tolerance. And no one wants Darcy to speak a 'tolerable' over them. Let our art criticism be all Ph4v8, as, to 'judge' here is to speak the biggest ultimate reality over an individual, who is always one 'fearfully and wonderfully made' Ps139v14, 'very good' Gn1v31.. The scale of their flaws are as gnats to camels.
Mt7v3-4 It is brokenness that keeps us focussed on the other's speck & blind to our own log. A defence mechanism. A superiority complex, perhaps masking an inferiority complex. Such a defence locates a problem either inside or outside, denying the complexity and relationality of sin...perhaps to learn & remember that grace tells us that this is not so, grace never runs just inwards or outwards, but rather it expands, it spreads, it covers, it evacuates. Grace is like a tree, not a monetary exchange...Sometimes we fixate on the other's speck because, to stay with the sight metaphor, we are so afraid of how-we-are-seen by them, not trusting Christ for our identity but investing in our seen-ness for in that even a small distortion becomes overwhelming to a sense of who WE are. This takes up all our energy so that we stop caring about & evaluating how-we-see, where we are belogged, where we look at the world & the other in distorted & unjust ways... Logs & specks though, they can be removed, they can be righted, thank God. Jesus we pray for clear vision this day.
Mt7v5-6 Our aim for everyone is that they might gain an Mt13v44 'in his joy..' which comes of encountering the (pearl of the) kingdom (Mt13v46). How? How do you get your friends from spiritual planet tharg to an encounter with this pearl without their trampling it v6? Working backwards. If not pearls, what then? Crumbs for dogs Mt7v28? Perhaps milk before solid food 1Pt2v2 1Co3v2 Hb5v12. Pointedly Hb5v11 contrasts 'dull of hearing' milk-drinkers with Hb5v14 your 'trained powers of discernment' – we train so to see/discern incremental modes of appropriate nurture for them. So planks and v5's 'seeing': evangelism is dialogical with an emphasis on you listening, hearing, looking, discerning, truly seeing what it is that they need. An apply-your-own-oxygen-mask-first chronology, but also a recognition that private sin and hypocrisy impede your sight by affecting your sense of sin's scale: mote-beam, gnat-camel..
Mt7v7-8 So asking seeing & knocking for healing, joining in that prayer, because this came several times at the weekend, you shoul ask God, you should keep asking God, because I want the life and the change, because I want the stories to tell. Praying for healing of hearts, minds & bodies, my own & yours & theirs, the loved ones & the strangers, specific seasonal needs & underlying aches & terminal threats ask seek know, don't give up.. God rush upon us.
Mt7v9-10 O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear.. Why don't I pray more? At what cost? In this season more than ever we are too busy to *not* pray. Apt that this should follow MetTab wisdom on Jm4 this Sunday: not praying for things we want will necessarily lead to wanting things wrongly, worldlily, anaccountably, anxiously. .. Against my conservative/cessationist/inferiority-complex/British Keep-Calm-And-Carry-On tendancy to stoicly not-pray, Jesus here risks a prosperity gospel, but even that would helpfully challenge my understanding of the generosity of God's character, the goodness of the universe's materiality, and the efficacy of prayer. .. To make his point, Jesus uses objects which appear good at first, that on closer inspection, at the moment of need, turn out to be worthless and poisonous. But we pray to defy the claim that our loaf-looking faith is a dead-weight.
Mt7v11 I remember D, who likes to go to churches to start arguments, said that human beings are this extraordinary thing, that even the otherwise indifferent businessman rings for an ambulance if someone has a heart attack in front of him. The animals don't do that. Our capacity to be moved & to reach out is a beauty, a glory. & that glimpse of glory is God's, multiplied a million times in His reaching out to us. Ask. God aches to reach out.
Mt7v12 Way less straightforward than it may first look, 'cause others are other, & doing unto others as you would wish to be done unto thus does not mean literally doing to them things you like for yourself. They like different things, they need different things,they express truth beauty & goodness in different ways, they have different primary love languages. SO the golden rule invites us into dialogue & discovery, only here can we honour humanity.
Mt7v13-14 In Kingdom topology there is a discontinuity, a dividing partition, a not-open-plan eschatology, there is a threshold, there is a gate, and at all moments there is a not-yet into which we step into from this present now? My fear about erasing hell is that it not only undermines justice, but is addles time and a sense of eternity? What it takes from the emphatic motive force to urgently v12 do-for-others-as-yourself, a hell-less theology doesn't replace with any stronger myth structure? The moral consequentialism of Super Size Me and the wide gate to heart disease is all we are left with? If there is no final gate, even if 'final' is only in the sense of visible horizon, how does this render all intervening gates, choices and freedoms? And why does Jesus use this language? And by what 'fruit' are the 'trees' of these theologies of interpretting destruction to be assessed? How is my fertility and flavour?
Mt7v15-16 Grateful for T's word that a lack of fruit can often be traced to one's own lack of right attitude to & before God. To believe that God is so real, to acknowledge one's own falseness, false prophecy & wolfishness. Remind me, God, & show me new ways this is true. Right me, in all ways, because you are real, because it matters.
Mt7v17-18 If ever there was a picture of the natural overflow of the essence of an organism, fruit is it. Trees can't plan a marketing campaign, they can't exam cram, there's no voting amongst the leaves, can't hire substitutes, there's no mental striving in this fruitfulnes, they cannot but make like a tree. but. There are preconditions to fruitfulness ps1v3 being planted by living water, Mt13v8 in good soil, from good seed. Are you? Am I? Not naturally, we ate bad fruit from a bad tree and put bad seed into a heart of stone, and accordingly death reigned in us from Adam and how can a tree change its nature? 1Cor15v22 It can. And this makes Mt7v18 awesome. 'We are the firstfruits..' 'We are the light of the world..' 'He who began a good work in you will complete it..' 'He will give you the desires of your heart..' Ridiculous. Now, 'You are a good tree, you cannot bear bad fruit!' .. Love God, do what you want.
Mt7v19-20 What is this thing masking? These different contrasts between inner & outer, the move from v15 an inability to distinguish between a sheep-in-wolf's-clothing & a sheep, towards a v20 recognition of what is inside from the outside, the fruit. Prayers for uncloudy minds, for wisdom & revelation for this inner, more buried, more hidden. Unmask me. Repent receive rebuke replace, yes. v19, cut it down & burn it, oh God.
Mt7v21-22 What is the secret to defeating my terrifying ability to simulate faith, to imitate Christianity, even to manufacture mighty works in my own strength? First, what is the incentive to such self-deception? What is its reward? (1) There is an externally rewarded false-disciplehood: people-pleasing, motivated by the praise of man in rice-christian rituals of performing to Richborne Terrace's tenancy agreement. So, nip that in the bud and ensure that certain faith practices are ninja. For the sake of your own soul find ways to meet God in a secret secret place, don't close your curtains for your quiet time, go underground and leave no trace. (2) Is there also an entirely internal force for self-deception, so to avoid the reality of total-christianity and a holy God, I try to construct categories of 'semi-christian' as if it were valid to be half-married or half-pregnant.. Christianity is not a pick-n-mix moral code, nor merely a subjectively dependent experience of temperamental warm fuzzies, Christianity is not a static state, the image of a thing, a retrospectively projected veneer. Christianity is deeply and actively the difference between 'I never knew you' and Jn21v17 'you know that I love you' Know and Love, be Known and Beloved.
Mt7v23-24 Imagining what is would be like to hear Jesus say 'I never knew you'. Where would I go, what would I do? I have nothing outside of Jesus, all would be ashes in the mouth. Perhaps this could be a reminder of Christ's reality here & now, the immediacy, the seriousness of this God-relationship. & the relationship is constituted in prayer? To be known is 'to do what God wants you to do' – so it is active, but it is personal, not generic Christian things learned from a sermon. What does God want YOU to do, what is your specific calling to Kingdom inbreaking? So you have to hear God, the v24 wise woman hears & obeys. To hear is to be in prayer. So we must pray, if we are to be Jesus people.
Mt7v25-26 We cannot say what God is, except he is what he is, he is that he is: yahweh, is-ness itself. But we are given permission and precedent to say God-is-like. So smilies and metaphors are given to us and should be guarded, studiously interrogated, and reinforced. Everytime we build we have the opportunity to display God, that is, to revisit and refresh some God-is-like's for a new generation, every architectural moment is pregnant with the chance to live allusively conspicuously. At the risk of exhausting the analogy, three possible applications: 1. Sands of Galilee and site context: houses which wisely engage their context display an understanding of a universe whose God is not generic but personal, local and concerned for the specifics. Micro-climate engagement is a theological statement. 2. Owner occupier: Houses which are built owned and occupied by the one risk-taker display the risk of faith in a way that speculative housing will struggle to embody. 3. Found foundations and a display of the rock: Not everyone knows what is beneath the surface, but Christianity is concerned with the heart, which is beneath the surface, and we delight to show its working. This is less the Pompidou fetishisation of innards, but rather the joy of making legible that replicable testimony of the God who holds your house up. Ps127v1 + Rm10v14
Mt7v27-28 Without any self-important words, we pray because we v27 desperately literally need Jesus, or we will fail, fall & die. Let this teetering-on-edge be real to our minds, so that we practice the desperate need we have at all times, we know that the one who grounds us & makes kingdom come is not ourselves. & we pray to this astonishing Jesus, mysterious Christ, who cuts to the heart. Change what we have been, with wonder.
Mt7v29 Scribe here is pejorative. Scribes waste breath, mince words, split hairs and play language games. I waste breath, mince words, split hairs and play language games when I text unanchored from that bedrock of faith and epistemology who is God. You know.. Anchoring language requires an unbroken chain to an immovable object. Prayer is that chain, so make it constant. .. Authority. Jesus sends us out in that authority. Mt28v18, the centurion's faith is an understanding of authority. Mt8v9 The answer to 'what is church?' needs to deal with authority delegated and its abuses, growing in our prayer life will require a better grasping of a theology of our authority. You know..