We had a great dialogue around Matthew 5 last night in our Austin Mustard Seed gathering. Some of these thoughts came out of that…
For some, the Sermon on the Mount can be troubling because it might seem that Jesus is setting the bar even higher than the Law. One perspective is that Jesus point is to prove that we need grace, because we can never attain to the standards God has for us. I certainly won’t argue the fact that we need grace…I need it as much as anyone. But I don’t think that was Jesus’ point here.
Jesus is not drawing a bigger circle around things that are considered bad, or sinful. Jesus is calling humanity to reorient, to repent, and begin to move toward the goodness and the beauty of life as God intended. Through Judeo-Christian history, there is a tendency to try to name what God considers to be sin, and then try to avoid that. But as the one who authored life, I have to hope that God has called us to more than that. The author of life calls us to life. The point of the Law was not to keep us away from what is bad, but to push us toward what is good. Likewise, Jesus’ reframing of the Law in Matthew 5 is not to make the bad “bigger”, but to push us further toward the abundant the Jesus is continually inviting us to.
May your life, and mine, not be marked just by how well we back away from evil, but may we turn around and chase after the full, good, and beautiful way of life that God created us to live.