Through the Bible in a Year – June 23

The scheme for May – June can be found here

1 Ki 7; Mat 7; Psalm 70-71

Perhaps it is in Matthew 7 that the sermon becomes its sharpest. Who for example even desires to avoid judging others? Jesus famous joke about the mote and the beam illustrates beautifully our human predicament. We are tuned to see the flaws in others whilst we are blind to our own faults and failings. We see someone choking on a gnat whilst we are trying to swallow the proverbial camel.

Jesus story tells us that we have far more work to do on our own hearts than any assistance we might usefully render to others. Truly it is a narrow gate, the gate of wholehearted obedience to the primary command of Jesus – follow me. Our lives are meant to bear fruit – to bear witness to the Life of Christ in us.

Jesus then closes out the sermon with the clearest expression of what we have been thinking on these past days. ‘Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of m father in heaven’. To Know Jesus is to be identified wholly with him – living as he lived purely for the Kingdom of God.

When we begin to grasp the fullness of that Kingdom, we will know that it is such a huge realm, that our lives are readily swallowed up in it. Perhaps our problem with disobedience is that we think so little of the Kingdom of God?

‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them . . .’

Through the Bible in a Year – March 5

The Scheme for March and April can be found here

Lev 8-9; Romans 14; Psalm 80

Christian faith can only be known in and through the community of faith, Christ’s body, the Church. Jesus tells us ‘when two or more are gathered in my name, there I am, in the midst of them’. This it must be said is at best a minor note in much contemporary Christian faith. Church, although we all know better, is still primarily related to in terms of place and the services – worship and pastoral – which it provides.

This community of faith reveals the Life of Christ in the world, but in order to do so, each of its members relate to one another only in and through Christ. Thus the emphasis on not judging one another – that we must consider that each member lives to the Lord.

Paul warns against our actions causing offence to ‘weaker’ brethren. Here the issue is eating foods which may have been offered in pagan sacrifice. Paul knows that this is not a matter which should concern the believers, but that not everyone is sufficiently grown in faith to have come to this realisation, thus the more mature should refrain from eating such food, for fear effectively that the eyes of the members of the community ‘younger in faith’ fall from looking to Christ and instead fall upon what they might yet consider to be unclean practices.

The clear teaching of Jesus, not to judge one another, is given clear commentary here by Paul. Of course it sounds hoplessly idealistic, unless we take the first commandment with complete seriousness. We are to Love God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our mind, and all our strength. In other words, our eyes are always to be fixed on Christ. This is in as far as it is possible a physical requirement, that we do not as it were stand beside our brethren, looking first at Christ, then at them, then at Christ and telling him what we have seen in our kindred, rather that we Only see our brothers and sisters in and through Christ – remembering ‘that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ That we who were guilty have been pronounced innocent in and through Christ, as have our brethren.

The Church as a body is one that should always be growing more and more into the fullness of Christ, as each individually plays his or her part and grows deeper into the reality of the new life we have been given in Him. This is what we are all called to – and our focus is not the behaviour of our brethren, but the Life revealed to un in Christ.

If our vision is not captivated by Christ – that we fail to see our brothers and sisters in Him, that we fail to see that they too are redeemed and are being sanctified, that we see rather their faults and judge them – then clearly we too have much growing to do.