We are such fickle human beings it is no wonder we need, for our past, our present and our future, a Saviour, the Messiah, to lead and teach us how to act so that our God is held in the supreme regard.
Murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, an eye for an eye and love for enemies are topics of our Matthew reading. This part of the Sermon on the Mount sets the New Covenant standards much higher than the Law or Old Testament standard of “just don’t do this”. Jesus sets a higher general standard that specifies, in response to God’s love for us and our demonstration of His love to others, that we must exhibit love at this generous level to our Christian family and our enemies!
Our 2 Chronicles 11 passage tells of a previously joined kingdom split apart by the greed of the new King Rehoboam taking the advice of his less experienced advisers against that of his more experienced advisors. In today’s passage, following a failed attempt at mounting an attack on the towns of Israel, Judah’s towns are fortified in expectation of battles and skirmishes. Priestly leaders become part of the worship of man-made idols and people are led astray. While some remained faithful to God walking in the ways of David and Solomon.
The hardest hitting section of this Matthew passage is in the last couple of verses.
Two of these are; 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
Also 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
How do we meet the standards required of us? Only by the grace of God. Grace to act as Jesus instructs. Grace to be forgiven when we fail to act in the expected way. Grace to step away from our fickle selves again and enter into the way of life as demonstrated by Christ and seek to live according to His teachings.
I love the challenge of our communion service that appears in the Prayer Book just before the General Confession (The Australian Prayer Book, 1978, p121) that, in part says, “You, then, who earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God and walking in his holy ways, draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to strengthen and comfort you. But first, let us make a humble confession of our sins to Almighty God.”
However and whenever these words come to mind or are said I am reminded of the complete and all encompassing grace that flows from God that permits you and I to live a life before our God, by hour, by day and by week. A life in which I too am fickle.
A prayer – Lord and Father, while I in my own strength am unable to live as you require of me please accept, through the gift of your Son Jesus to me, my heartfelt confession of those things I have done that are sinful before you. Please bless me with your continuing grace and mercy. I turn to you for forgiveness, pardon, and delivery of me from my sins, and strengthen me in a new life before you. Amen