Leave it to Jesus to mess up your comfortable life. He’s only supposed to get you into paradise when you die. That’s all, folks! No to hell; yes to heaven. He died on the cross to pay for your sins and give you a home in heaven. Everything else he did or said, you can ignore, right? What He teaches doesn’t matter as long as you’re headed for the streets of gold and your (10,000 sq. ft.) mansion in the sky.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
So, just ignore what He said:
1. Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it (Matthew 19.15, Mark 10.15, Luke 18.17).
This is a regular theme of Jesus – it’s children who enter the kingdom. Unruly, curious, simple, and unlearned children are the example of those who enter the kingdom of heaven. Young children are the standard of faith by which adults receive the kingdom of heaven not the other way around.
2. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (John 6.35)…and this bread, which I give for the life of the world is my flesh (John 6.62).
Even some of Jesus’ disciples rejected him and this “hard saying” and “walked with him no more.” The same is happening today. Many try to rationally explain the nature of this mystery or explain it away. These disciples didn’t walk away from Jesus over a metaphor or symbol. Jesus meant literally what he said here (as always!).
3. Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also (Mathew 5.39).
We often do not know what is good for us or harmful (evil). We think we know what’s harmful, label it as such, and resist it. But, God may have other reasons for us to experience this “evil” of which we are unaware, thus, making it “good.” Real evil is to be overcome with good (Romans 12.21). Learn to resist nothing since all things are for our good.
4. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom God (Luke 6.20).
In Hebrew, the “poor” means both a) the materially poor and b) the faithful among God’s people. These folks are totally dependent on God for their existence and life. Total dependence on God is a foreign reality to most modern, Western Christians, you and me included.
5. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God (Matthew 5.9).
Don’t you become a child of God by faith alone? To be given the title “child of God” you must be a peacemaker, that is, you participate in God’s peace by grace through faith (but not faith alone). Participating in the peace of the Father, Jesus the Prince of Peace, and Holy Spirit (giver of peace), enables you to share God’s peace with others; become a peacemaker.
6. Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” while there is still a beam in your eye? You hypocrite. first take the beam out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7.1-5).
You won’t have time to remove the tiny fault in someone else when you really see the huge mess that you are. Truth is, you’ll never see clearly. So, give up trying to correct the faults of others and deal with your own crap.
7. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you (Matthew 6.33).
Do you see God, HIs kingdom and righteousness, as the most important reality in your life? A starving person craves food. A drowning person gasps for air. A true Christian is intense and unstoppable in his/her desire to know God. All else – food, clothing, shelter – find their rightful place only as one craves after God.
8. Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body what you will wear (Matthew 6.34).
How much time, money, thought, and effort is put into providing for our physical needs? We can easily worry about these things indicating a lack of trust in God’s ability to provide. Are you consumed by earthly things or God?
10. Be careful not to practice your charitable deeds in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven (Matthew 6.1).
Giving of ourselves or our possessions is always good unless our motive is to look good to others. No one has pure motives. Have you ever congratulated yourself or looked for the “Thank you” from others for doing something charitable? This is a subtle attitude we need to struggle with because it affects our relationship with God.
11. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6.6).
Prayer is primarily an intimate, communion with the Triune God. This kind of meeting with God is it’s own reward. Unfortunately, prayer has become a way to display one’s “piety” before others whether in a small group or a larger church meeting. Use of right-sounding words, voice inflection, and remembering the requests become priority. All that disappears when you’re in solitude, honest and open with God. He becomes your reward.
**Some of the comments on Jesus’ teachings were informed by the study notes in the Orthodox Study Bible, 2008, Thomas Nelson Publishers.