May 29, 2007

On Matthew 5:27-30

Jesus is obviously talking about lust in this short passage and He uses some harsh words to talk about this particular sin. For right now, I'm not going to comment on the lust part of this passage partly because I think Jesus makes the point pretty clear but mostly because I want to focus on verses 29 & 30. Now, if you are like me, the first time I read this I was thinking how unfortunate it would be to gouge out my eye or cut off my hand. We have to be careful not to take things we read in Scripture literally that aren't meant to be taken literally. Jesus is talking figuratively but using very strong images to convey the ugliness of sin and in this particular case, lust.

So before you go and gouge your eyes out or cut off your hands, think about this... 1) Jesus is making the point that we need to cut ourselves off from things that cause us to sin, even if it hurts at first. I think a great example of this could be a relationship we find ourselves in that causes us to sin in some way. Not necessarily lust but maybe this friend or whoever is causing you or pressuring you to drink, do drugs, lie, cheat, steal, etc etc. This would be where we need to "cut" ourselves off even though it may hurt at first. The point Jesus is trying to make is that nothing is worth falling into sin which then leads to death, not even our "eye" or "hand". What is it in your life that you need to cut yourself away from in order to avoid a particular sin? 2) If this was to be taken literally, we would all be running around bloodied and blind, which wouldn't get us much of anywhere at all. And the last reason why I don't think Jesus is talking literally here is 3) Blind people can still lust.

May 8, 2007


I want to talk for a second about "a personal relationship with Christ" if I may. Too often people think that being a Christian has nothing to do with anyone else and is solely based upon the individual's own journey of faith. It focuses on what eternity has in store for me with little to no consideration of others because really, "that is a personal decision that they will have to make because I certainly can't make it for them."

Now I don't disagree that each individual needs to make a personal decision whether or not to follow Jesus but to turn Christianity into a religion that focuses and is based on the individual is, in my opinion, going against the very foundation of what Christianity is all about. In order to truly be a disciple of Jesus, you and I need community. We need people! How can you be a Christian solo? Jesus doesn't tell us to love ourselves as our self...NO, He tells us to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Lk 10:27) because He assumes that we already have a sense of love for ourselves. Who are you to be the salt and light to if your relationship with Christ only matters to you? Paul says that we are part of a body and that we need each other, we can't do it alone.

The whole point of Jesus' ministry (and ours with Him) is to bring the Good News of His love, forgiveness and grace to the world. One's relationship with Christ starts inwardly but is made evident outwardly; it may begin individually but has to become communal or it is not the Christianity of Jesus. I think it is exciting to see how the individual and the community go hand-in-hand. The growth of the one can't happen without the growth of the other. The moment we privatize Christianity is the moment it ceases to be Christianity at all.