Thursday, December 5, 2013

Why am I so tired? (Part 1)

The Sermon on the Mount is the Law fulfilled in Christ.  Jesus perfectly practiced both the letter of the Law and the purpose/meaning the letter of the Law points to.  The purpose/meaning behind the Law is like the flesh covering the bones; it is love filling and energizing holiness and being energized by holiness.  It is God's righteousness.

What we must understand is unless we conform to this fulfilled Law--this righteousness of God--we absolutely will not stand in God's Kingdom.  Jesus teaches us very clearly,

"For I say to you (plural), unless your righteousness far exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you (plural) will absolutely not enter into the kingdom of the heavens." (Matt. 5:20)

If we understand righteousness as obeying the Law according to any standard outside of Love, we are neither standing with Christ in God's kingdom, nor will we ever so stand with Him in God's glory.  The Law of which Jesus speaks is the ten commandments; because the ten commandments are the necessary but not sufficient measure of the Law of God's righteousness that is love. For the Holy Spirit teaches us through the Apostle John,

"The one claiming, 'I have known Him,' and is not obeying His commandments, is a liar, and the Truth is not in him or her.  But whoever obeys His word, truly the love of God has been perfected in him or her, by this we know that we are in Him." (I John 2:4-5)

Therefore, Jesus unpacks Holy-Love (my concise term for the compass of fulfilled Law) for us through His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).  The latter serves to illustrate for us who dwell with Him in His kingdom (i.e., His disciples) what the Holy-Love looks like.  Because Jesus perfectly conformed to Holy-Love, we too can conform to Holy-Love if we live in Christ.  Not only can we conform to Holy-Love in Christ, we absolutely must do so; otherwise, we are not truly walking with Christ in His kingdom, TODAY--that is, we are not true Christians.

Immediately upon hearing this, our first reaction is God has given us an even harder set of rules than before to try to follow, and we become exhausted before we even start; we quickly feel defeated.  A fellow parishioner approached me recently explaining he understands the mandate of Holy-Love but is worn out by what it requires in practice.  "Why am I so tired?" he asked me.

I can relate.  But I also know this fatigue my friend is experiencing doesn't seem to jibe with what Jesus would later teach,

"Come to Me everyone who is toiling and has been loaded down, and I will give you (plural) rest.  Take up my yoke upon you (plural) and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you (plural) will find rest for your souls;  For My yoke is good--kindly--not pressing, and My burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)

Does Jesus contradict Himself?  By no means, and this is good news for us.

The yoke of a Rabbi was his example for how to fulfill God's righteousness; and a Rabbi's disciples would do absolutely everything their Rabbi did, to the letter--that is, they would be yoked to their Rabbi.  Jesus' yoke is the final word on fulfilling God's righteousness (above).  And even though Holy-Love appears daunting--and it is, because it runs counter to everything this world holds dear--Holy-Love is nevertheless the only way to the peace of God that is Shalom--the perfect rest of God's kingdom; Jesus promises us this is true.  And we can go to the bank on Jesus' promises.

The reason He promises His yoke is light lies at the heart of the Gospel of Christ--the Good News for all who are believing in Him. Next week, I will answer my friend's impassioned question by explaining what I mean by this.  For now, I think I have given us quite enough to chaw on.

See you next week.