The teachings in my church have been from Matthew’s Gospel during this long season of Pentecost; and while the messages are couched in Parables, I have to admit they are fairly direct. When taken as a whole Matthew is telling us what Jesus was trying to convey in His life and teaching; that the leaders of the church of the time were saying one thing and doing another; and the good church (temple) going folk were acting the same way. They were more interested in how religious they appeared than how they responded to what God wanted.
What God wanted, and had told the people a good number of times, was that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves. The prophets, one after another, heard God and told us that same thing; and the people just kept going along doing what they were comfortable with, instead of what God had asked of them in his covenant.
“I will be your God,” he said, “and you will be my people.” That was His covenant, His bargain. Make your choices freely, keeping within the simple rules I give you, and it will work to your benefit.
Of course we have a hard time keeping the rules, and as a result, we have missed some of the benefits. We have created problems for ourselves by making choices that might seem like fun at the time, but were really inconsiderate of God, or our neighbors. You see, the Law is a set, an inseparable combination of points that always have to be considered together, not one at a time.
If you don’t love your neighbor, you are not really, loving God. You may think you are loving God, but if you ignore or judge your neighbor you put yourself in the place of God, and that doesn’t work at all.
We hear these lessons and parables over and over again; and while they were offered for learning 2000 years ago, they would guide us to a better life today, if we would observe them a bit more carefully.
The Rev. George O. Martin is an Ordained Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 17th and Adams, Great Bend. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.