I’m almost done with Matthew, and I might have a couple thoughts about all these questions I’ve been pondering.
What I’m seeing so far is God’s desire for purity, overshadowed with His burning love for us. Something I’m starting to realize is that God knows who we are, He knows how darkened the world is and so He knows the weaknesses in our hearts. How could He expect us never to fall? We are already fallen. But I see Him asking us for pure motives (I wrote an entry about that, actually, but I haven’t posted it yet). He wants to free us from our duplistic [I know that's not a word, but shouldn't it be?] bondage to please both Him and humankind.
The other thing I’m beginning to understand more and more about God is that although He desires us to show our love for Him by way of our obedience to Him, our Father doesn’t issue commands because He’s on a power trip. He kindly tells us what we should and should not involve ourselves in because He knows the consequences to us and to the souls around us.
I’ll give some examples because I’m trying to speak the truth, and:
WHOEVER SPEAKS THE TRUTH GIVES HONEST EVIDENCE… PROVERBS 12: 17A
This verse sounded really harsh to me for a long time, but I see it differently now.
YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH, BUT IF SALT HAS LOST ITS TASTE, HOW SHALL ITS SALTINESS BE RESTORED? IT IS NO LONGER GOOD FOR ANYTHING EXCEPT TO BE THROWN OUT AND TRAMPLED UNDER PEOPLE’S FEET.
By harsh, I mean that Christ appeared to be addressing the crowd with disdain or disgust, saying “Ok, people, get it together, because if you don’t you’re not good enough and obviously deserve to be completely discarded and abused.” As if our Lord Jesus ever had an air of superiority about him - he came to DIE for us! And meanwhile he served many, many humans just like us; people who were dirt poor, very rich, in the deepest pits of sin and ignorance or overly righteous. How could I think that Jesus Christ would tell me that if I “lost my saltiness” I was scum? His tone, I believe, is a loving admonition: be careful, sister, your saltiness is of great value, but if you lose your salty flavor – if you lose that which gives you your identity as the salt of the earth, something valuable, healing, and delicious – you get trampled. People will throw you out and use you to de-ice their driveways because they won’t see what is different about you.
I don’t know how accurate I am in saying all of this, but all I’m trying to convey is that Jesus isn’t telling us that we’re not good enough or that if we do such and such we will start to fall short. We didn’t earn what he did for us in the first place, so how can we ever earn it by being really good (Romans 5:6-11)? Or how can we UNearn it?
So that was the part about unconditional love communicated through the possibly mean-sounding things Christ says.
This is the part about the purity of heart that God desires from us.
If there were no other example, we could just look at what Jesus’ life looked like to see that God wants us to be devoted to Him through and through rather than only appearing dutiful to Him. Jesus never took more credit than was fair for him, a man. He would not even call himself good – the Son of our Heavenly Father, the only perfect being to ever walk God’s green earth. He did things that would cause most of us to cringe and run, and he did them out of unpolluted compassion and obedience. Letting a strange woman pour oil all over him; touching lepers and all kinds of diseased, smelly outcasts; healing the ear of a soldier come to take him to his torture and horrible death when his own disciple chopped it off trying to defend him… I could go on and on.
I have a little more clarity regarding some of my zillions of questions, and I can’t wait for more. Will I ever find the answers to some of them?? It doesn’t feel like it yet, but I’ll try not to be a me of little faith :)