Jesus was born into a world where the faith of his ancestors, Judaism, was in full religious bloom. Judaism had become a relationship with a set of religious rules—thousands of them. This is not a failure specific to Jews. It has happened inside Christianity too. Instead of being a funnel that helps people connect to God, religion becomes a way to control God (I keep the rules and God blesses me) and for the religious leaders to control society (The people in power define the rules and I keep them in order to fit in).
The rules many churches set forth today include some subset of: vote for the right political party, have the right theology, don’t be gay or different, and do the right set of good works like reading your Bible daily or giving a tenth of your income to the church. In more extreme cases, drinking, dancing, and hanging out with people who do are on the list.
As this blog unfolds in 2021, I hope you’ll agree that Jesus wasn’t teaching a list of rules to follow, a detailed theology to believe, or even a set of required deeds to do. He was doing something much larger. He was outlining a new world order: the Reign of God. And since God is love, the Reign of Love.
He was teaching us how to live in love for each other. Weekly, we will dive into one of Jesus’ teachings from Matthew 7-9.
This week’s (optional) Spiritual Practice is to take some time to meditate (spend some intentional time thinking) on what a society whose core value is love would look like.
What role would you want in that society?