The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Month: March, 2017

Lent Devotional: Matthew 25:31-40

Matthew 25:31-40 (click here)
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40)

Reflection
The church is the body of Christ.

We make that statement fairly often… but do we play out all the implications? Matthew 25 holds forth one massive implication that is rarely considered.

Typically, we read this passage and believe that it is calling us to a general love and care for the poor, the hurting, and the outcasts of society. There are many, many Biblical passages that call us to that action… please don’t hear me as denying the truth that we are called to sacrificially love those that society marginalizes! However, this is not what Matthew 25:31-40 is about…

This is about the church… the body of Christ.

The final judgment is based solely on how one relates to Jesus Christ. Did you reject him or embrace him by faith? Is Jesus your greatest joy and treasure? Matthew 25 lays out the evidence of whether or not our heart has embraced Christ by faith… and what is the evidence?

It is whether or not we embrace the church in love.

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these MY BROTHERS, you did it to me.”

Jesus says that our treatment of his brothers and sisters, the church, is our treatment of him! After all… the church is the body of Christ! Do you clothe the body of Christ? Do you feed the body of Christ? Do you care for the body of Christ?

Our love for Christ is evidenced by our love for his body! Our rejection of Christ is evidenced by our rejection of his body!

I am by no means saying that our works toward the church save us, but that those works serve as evidence of whether or not I am saved! I can say I love Jesus all day long, but what is the evidence? It comes out in how I treat his body when it hurts, when it hungers, when it is exposed, when it is in need… it comes out in cruciform community!

1 John 4:20-21, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Do we love Jesus by loving his body… the church?

 
*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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Lent Devotional: Matthew 5:38-42

Matthew 5:38-42 
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

Reflection
His arm was bruised and hung limp at his side as tears rolled down his face. I asked him to stop, but he was stubborn and wouldn’t let up. He made a fist and struck my arm again as hard as he could… which wasn’t very hard at all.

I immediately returned the lick with ever-escalating force, deepening the purple color of his right bicep and making the tears flow faster.

I don’t remember how this particular fight started, but it had ended with my younger brother and I exchanging free blows to each other’s upper arm… first one to give up lost. What began as gentle taps had increased in force until his arm would be rendered useless for the next few days. This would be the last time we ever hit each other.

I don’t know if you’ve ever found yourself in the midst of a sibling battle like this one, but all of us know how exchanging blows escalates (physically or otherwise). All of us want the last and best hit… we have deep sinful urge for vengeance.

This is why God had instituted the eye for an eye principle in the Old Testament law. It was meant to mitigate personal revenge by having the governing authorities apply a punishment that fit the crime. An eye for an eye was meant to keep things from escalating from an eye to an arm… to a leg… to a life.

However, instead preventing personal revenge, this principle was twisted to justify it! If you take my eye, I’ll take yours (and maybe more).

Such attitudes and actions do not characterize the community of God’s people, for they do not need to seek personal vengeance, but leave it to the Lord who will make all things right (click here for more detail in a previous devotion concerning this theme).

When we a struck with an insulting blow, we don’t have to seek our own vengeance… and raise violence to the next level (*Side note: This is not a prohibition against self-defense. What is in view here is an insulting slap, not a life-threatening attack. Jesus is specifically discussing matters in which people normally sought personal vengeance). We can forgive, knowing God will make things right.

In fact, when it comes to how God’s people personally react when wronged… it looks a lot like how Christ reacted to his abusers and accusers on the way to the cross… it looks cruciform.

God’s people turn the other cheek, give freely to those who would take, serve those who would force, are generous with those who cannot repay them.

Just as…

Christ turned the other cheek to those who struck him, freely gave his life for those who would take it, served those who would force him to his death, and generously paid the debt of sinners who could never pay him back.

We are called to be a cruciform community.

 
*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Sermon Coming Next Week

Due to a nasty little stomach bug, Jonathan was out today and our community spent time in worship and prayer. Our Lenten sermon series will resume next Sunday. The daily devotionals will remain on schedule.

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