The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Epiphany 7 :: God’s Kin-dom come!

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Matthew 5.38-48

I don’t like these tough sayings of Jesus. Can’t he just tell me what I want to hear? Can’t he just once tell me that it’s okay to exact revenge on those who want to hurt me? And I mean those who want to hurt me, not just those who have already hurt me! And why should I go the extra mile for anyone who forces me to do anything? What about free will? Aren’t I free to do just whatever I want? Loving my sisters and brothers is hard enough. Do I have to love my enemies, too? How about if I continue hating my enemies and do everything to stop them so that my brothers and sisters and I can live in peace and quiet!

Well, obviously, Jesus is trying to tell me — to tell us — that God’s Kin-dom [that’s not a typo!] doesn’t work that way. The reign of God — God’s Realm — is a place where the values of God trump the values of humans. Or, rather, in God’s reign, our values must be replaced by those of God. We simply cannot continue to take our enemies and place them in categories of “other” or “alien” or “not-like-me-and-therefore-not-human” [got that Ted Nugent?] By doing so, we refuse them the very grace of God that we ourselves so desperately need.

Epiphany 6 :: Divorce?

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Matthew 5.21-37

Okay, let’s talk about divorce. Just to get the conversation started for those of you who have either been through it or know someone who has. Let’s be honest. Divorce is a rupture of a relationship. This rupture takes many forms: as many as there are people involved [which is just about everyone]. Infidelity oftentimes does not even enter picture. Over time relationships can suffer greatly if the couple involved does nothing to try and heal the rift. At other times, one or even both persons really try to make the relationship work, but nothing seems to help. Of course, many relationships end because of abuse or fear.

Divorce is a fact of life and people ought not be penalized if a marriage ends. Reconciliation and wholeness and restoration can occur, even if the relationship is over. And such is necessary if further relationships are to be strong. It is a tricky, even a messy, thing this business of relationship-living. They are difficult to maintain. They should be difficult to end.

Epiphany 5 :: Salt of the earth?

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Matthew 5.13-20

There’s an interesting thing about salt: just a little bit goes a long way. What wonderful properties this mineral has! Salt is both a food preservative and flavor enhancer. Throw some in the ice of a hand-cranked ice cream maker and it acts as an aid to freezing. Throw it on an icy sidewalk and it acts as an aid to thawing. It’s great on popcorn with a little bit of butter. It’s horrible on Rice Krispies® [how like sugar it appears!]. A little bit of salt is necessary for life. Too much salt can bring death.

Jesus tells his disciples [read: us] that they are salt of the earth. Wow! Think about that for a moment. Disciples can help preserve life and enhance it! This is what power is.

Power is not about wielding some kind of force so that others come under your will. It is not about being able to get what you want at the expense of others. It is not about who has the most money or who is the most beautiful or who won the most votes in the last election. Power is about preserving and enhancing life. And to the extent that we follow Jesus’ message and take up our cross daily, our “saltiness” is a powerful force for good. But the moment this power goes to our head, the moment we begin to use our “saltiness” for our own purposes? Well, let’s just say that too much salt can ruin a good meal.

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