“you…but i…”

matthew…
this gospel is about change,
stories rooted in truth,
new understanding of the way things are,
an end to business as usual when it comes to religion.

the words that began the sermon on sunday. and as i heard the words, i couldn’t help but make connections with my own life…
recent conversations–“southern theology” (as one friend put it), dichotomistic views, dogmatic beliefs.
recent talk at work–business not being as usual during an economic downturn, focusing not on what has been but what is NOW, thinking and acting outside the box–outside the typical, the norm, the expected.

these words followed by those of jesus,

Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look:…Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose…
You’re familiar with the old written law….I’m challenging that.
~jesus’ words in matthew 5.38-39and43.

others promoting one thing, jesus promoting something altogether different.
jesus re-evaluating what others say…the voice of the world, the voice of the surrounding culture, the voice of even the religious leaders–or what we, today, would call the church.
calling it into question.
challenging commonly held assumptions.
proposing a new thing.

and what is this new thing?
what does jesus actually propose?
jesus’ words, it seems, in a separate gospel propose a similar exchange,

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?
~jesus, again, as recorded in luke 9.23-25.

an exchange, a denial, a giving up.
what do we give up?
what are we called to exchange?

usually, among christians, we propose that belonging to this group should embrace this way of life…
a way of life prescribed by who knows–some ultimate authority whose words and lists i fail to see set forth by jesus.
a way of life that excludes certain means of behavior, while applauding others.
a way of life sometimes focuses on the petty things of life, things that don’t ultimately matter.

instead, maybe jesus is calling us to give up something else, to exchange not just our way of life but more…a mindset, to deny who we are rather than what we do.

challenges emanating from the sermon:
maybe we are called to give up worldly expectations–worldly expectations of religion.
and ruminations in my own mind:
what the world says about religion.
a list of do’s and don’ts.
simply beliefs and behavior…no more.

maybe we are called to give up self preservation.
maybe we are called to exchange our speaking out on god’s behalf for god’s actual words, exemplified by jesus’ behavior.
maybe we are called to deny much more than worldly behavior.
maybe…

1 thought on ““you…but i…”

  1. good word. i like the last bit especially. i’m catching myself when i find myself putting words in God’s mouth – like He’s called me to do this or that – and i have equal lack of tolerance to self or others speaking their words as His own. what a scewed perspective all that turns into……self-idolatry.

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