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Obsessive: The Good Life (3)

. 2 min read
2014/01/26
Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer,
Psalm 119.1-8
Children,
Luke 18.9-14
Message,
Matthew 5.17-48
But
when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one
another, they do not show good sense.
      2 Corinthians 10:12
Bookends
of this passage:
      Compare yourself with the scribes and Pharisees
(the righteous)
      Compare yourself with tax collectors and
Gentiles (the heathen)
The
engine of obsession – comparison and guilt
      Being a “good Christian”
Between
these two comparisons, these two benchmarks, Jesus lists all kinds of ethical
themes over which we can and do obsess and feel guilty.  Each one is introduced by the phrases, “You
have heard” (the conventional wisdom or the basic law in the Hebrew Scriptures)
and “but I say to you” (Jesus way of raising the bar, elevating the difficulty,
going deeper, and making perfectly clear that he is the “Author and Giver of
the law” (Bonhoeffer, 142-3)).
Murder/Anger
– it is not just murder, but the rage that drives it
      Even hurling insults: retard, idiot
      Mt
5.23 – the practice of reconciliation
– changed my life
Adultery/Lust
      We rarely talk about it, except when a
public leader has broken faith
      But we have no trouble objectifying one
another, even ourselves
      Pornography is acceptable and epidemic
      Adultery begins in the heart
Divorce
– we all agree that divorce is tragic, even when necessary
      (as Jesus and Moses both indicated)
Oaths
and Truth-telling, Princess Bride
      on my life as a Spaniard (I don’t trust
Spaniards); on the soul of my …

Obsessive
      Cut out eye, hand
      Obsessive … and impossible
And,
in all this obsessing, our righteousness as disciples of Jesus must EXCEED that
of the scribes and Pharisees!
      Jesus: they tithed mint, dill, and cumin
(Mt 23.23)
      Paul: “as to legalistic righteousness,
FAULTLESS” (Philippians 3.6)
Want
to be married to a guy like Paul, to “Mr [or Miss] Perfect”?
      Tennis ball and garage parking
      Love: My lady is more important than my
perfection
The
final ethical themes revolve around relationships with evildoers and
enemies.  “Do not resist an evildoer”
(5.39).  “Love your enemies and pray for
[them]” (5.44).  “The meek shall inherit
the earth” (5.5).
      The 2nd grade bully
      Friend who puts “enemies” on prayer list
And,
in all this obsessing, our righteousness as disciples of Jesus must EXCEED that
of tax collectors and Gentiles!  How
so?  They are not offered to us as
examples of people who observe the Jewish law. 
They are examples of people who “love those who love you” (5.46).  We discover through this saying that
exceptional, “extraordinary” (Bonhoeffer), righteousness, the righteousness of
Christ, the perfection of our heavenly Father (5.48) is in this: LOVE, even for
enemies.
Jesus
as the fulfillment of the law
      “not come to abolish but to fulfill”
(5.17)
      Fulfilled through obedience
      Fulfilled through love
      Shared with us, the salt of the earth and
light of the world (5.13-16)
      We, who were once his enemies
            (Bonhoeffer)
      Our righteousness is not our own, but his

Resources:
Dietrich
Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Frederick
Dale Bruner, Matthew, A Commentary, Vol
1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12