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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Becoming Truly Human – Matthew 5.13 – 16

It is Sunday, November 5th and I’ve been listening to news reports about a gunman who walked into a church in Sutherland Springs, TX and killed 26 people, half of them children, and injured 20. People do not wake up one morning and decide to kill people they may not even know. People come to this point in stages. In Matthew 5.21,22 Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” A disparaging comment here or there dehumanizes the one against whom we speak. Continuing that practice can lead to nastier comments and further dehumanization. Of course, not everyone is going to make the leap from insulting another to murdering them, but look at what Jesus says about anger, insult and disparagement. There are real consequences for those who do so. And this behavior conflicts with what Jesus calls us to be a few verses earlier—light and salt.

What does being light and salt have to do with being truly human? God is light (1 John 1.5); we are called to be light-bearers. Remember, who we are as human beings is not told in its entirety in the creation account. We have to look at Jesus, who he was, how he lived and what he commanded us to do. We are called to be light in a world that is dark and getting darker every day.

In the parable in Luke 19.11 – 27, Jesus tells of a nobleman who is leaving to receive a kingdom. Before he goes, he gives each of his ten servants a pound and instructs them, “Do business with this until I comeback.” That is the message we have been given as well; we are to use the gifts and abilities the Lord has given us through the Holy Spirit to act on his behalf until he returns. 1 John 4.17 says “because as he is, so are we in the world.” The context here is love, love that has been perfected. The evidence of Jesus’ love was his obedience to the will of the Father; the evidence of our love is obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14.15). Obedience to Christ humanizes us because we do what Jesus did, we live as Jesus lived; we become like him. In John 8.12, Jesus declares himself to be the light of the world. Paul says in Ephesians 5.1, 2 that we are to be imitators of God. We can only imitate God by imitating Jesus who reveals him. And we can only be truly human by imitating Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There is more to be said later today.

Thank you heavenly Father that in Christ, not only are we made alive, we are finally the human beings you created us to be. Help us to live out this reality each day and ask for your grace when we fail. And when we fail, may each of us ask, “Lord, fix me.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.