Tagged: strength

Matthew 10:24-39

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on June 18, 2017.

Those who think of Jesus as a kind of religious wallflower will be surprised by Matthew 10:24-39. Upon careful consideration of the passage, they will find that their wallflower image of Jesus says more about them than the Jesus Matthew portrays here and elsewhere. A wallflower Jesus allows for a wallflower Christianity. In this passage, Jesus brings the hammer to that kind of Christianity.

There are several threads running through this passage, and depending on which one wants to pull, one can go in several directions. Overall, the picture Jesus seems to be portraying goes like this:

(1) I, Jesus, do things that will get one in trouble.

(2) Inasmuch as you, disciples, do what I do, you’ll get in trouble too.

(3) But don’t worry too much about that as you’ll be taken care of.

(4) If you find yourself overly worried about getting into trouble that means you are confused in one of four ways:

(4a) that the things I do are not so significant that they should cause trouble;

(4b) that who I am is not so significant that what I do should matter very much;

(4c) that the significance of what I do and who I am do not bear on your long-term welfare;

(4d) or, all the above.

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Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on March 12th, 2017.

When the apostle Paul wrote the Book of Romans he had never been to Rome. In spite of that unusual fact, he knew the Romans. The Romans included a unique mix of Roman citizens, non-citizens, Greeks, Jews, barbarians, educated and non-educated persons. Rome appeared to many as the center of the world.  Roman power, government, law, oppression, and the Roman penchant for keeping Romans happy with a supply of bread and entertainment known as the circuses kept the Romans in order and believing in the Roman ideal. “When in Rome do as the Romans do,” while a cute phrase for today’s culture, became a way of life for Romans. Put simply, you did not want to violate Roman law and protocol because to do so involved harsh consequences.

The church started, more than likely, near the Jewish synagogue. Church planters taught the Christian basics of Jesus’s death, burial, resurrection, and how to live as a Christian. The whole realm of Christianity appeared foreign to Roman officials and to next door neighbors. What was Christianity? Was it a form of Judaism with its special practices of feast days, Sabbath rites, and dietary restrictions (Romans 14)? Or was it a religion altogether different from Judaism? And, if the church started near the synagogue and many of the first Christians in Rome were Jews, who and what kind of person should the church welcome (Romans 14:1; 15:7). Whom to welcome into the church and how to relate to others who had become Christians created questions and even problems in the church. Never mind that the answer to such a question and problem should be simply solved both then and now, the reality of “other” people different than them stirred controversy and conflict in the church.

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