Thursday, October 19, 2017

Complexity part 8: Challenged

Matthew 5-7 is what is known as the sermon on the mount. Jesus' only documented sermon, and arguably one of the most powerful passages in all the Bible. Jesus speaks on many subjects, but the overall theme is one of challenge. Specifically, he challenges our understanding of God, his word, and what it means to be holy.

With the beatitudes, he challenges our notion of what it means to be blessed. It's not simply a warm and fuzzy picture of prosperity, comfort, and ease that we want to be true. Then, he goes on to address many familiar subjects to the people of the time, many of which he starts with the phrase "You have heard. . . " Then proceeds to tell them how what they have heard is not entirely right. Yet, there is the implication that we need to be more active in our own understanding, to not simply follow what we have heard, but to seek truth for ourselves. As complex a task as that may seem to those who just want it explained to them, I know you are out there. It does not stop there either; he goes on to challenge our motivations in following the truth. Do we truly do it to honor God, or merely to impress people, or avoid their judgement.

Which begs the question, are we simply taking the easy way in and accepting the word of others on what people tell us about the truth, and risking incomplete and inaccurate information? Or are we taking the complex path and confirming it for ourselves? How might Jesus challenge us today? What subjects would he address when challenging our understanding of God and his word? Where might he indicate that we are applying truth wrong? In what areas would he address when challenging our motivations?

They are all valid questions in any age, but especially now in the age of social media. Where everyone is adding their two cents on every issue imaginable in rather impatient, unkind, rude, critical, unloving, and ultimately questionable ways. Where we can display our actions before everyone. In the midst of this information overload can we sort out the unfavorable facts from the desirable fiction, sincere actions from posturing, reality from mere feelings? Can we ask ourselves objectively, why am I sharing this? Are we sharing it in true humility or mere pride? Are we trying to do what is right, or just be right?

Are you up for a challenge, or is Jesus’ challenge too complex for you?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

a person jumping over a mountain
click to enlarge

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