Tuesday, July 8, 2014

And He opened His mouth and taught them

Aborrezco a los hipócritas, empero amo tu ley. Salmo 119,113

I hate those who have a divided heart, but Your law do I love. Psalm 119:113

Jesus taught us, saying: ‘It is not anyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. John 7:21

And Jesus describes a divided heart: one who practices his righteousness before other men, when giving alms, when praying and when fasting. A divided heart stores up treasures on earth. A divided heart is anxious.

And all of the Law and the Prophets are summarized by Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. This is the will of the Father in heaven, who knows how to give good gifts.

And this is the narrow gate, a singular eye, and this is the good fruit that we bear.

And John Stott introduces his book on the Sermon on the Mount as being the best known of Jesus’ teaching, but arguably the least understood, and certainly the least obeyed. “It is the nearest thing to being a manifesto that he ever uttered, for it is his own description of what he wanted his followers to be and to do.”  And even though this is an old book, written to the previous generation, Stott’s call for a Christian Counter-Culture remains true today, for insofar as the Church is conformed to the world, it is contradicting its own identity.

And then Stott quotes from Leo Tolstoy’s Resurrection, when Prince Nekhlyudov first read the gospel, the Good News:
Nekhlyudov sat staring at the light of the lamp that burned low and his heart stopped beating. Recalling all the monstrous confusion of the life we lead, he pictured to himself what this life might be like if people were taught to obey these commandments, and his soul was swept by an ecstasy such as he had not felt in many a day. It was as though, after long pining and suffering, he had suddenly felt peace and liberation…And everything he read seemed familiar to him, confirming and making real what he had long known but had never fully understood nor really believed. But now he understood and believed: Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you…That night an entirely new life began for Nekhlyudov, not so much because he had entered new conditions of life, but because everything that happened to him from that time on was endowed with an entirely new meaning for him.

And it is only through God’s grace and new life can this fruit be borne. A new birth is essential.

And I can only remember Antonio bounding out of his car on that high mountain in Spain, celebrating his birthday and his gift from God, the Father of Lights who knows how to give good gifts, a new life. And the light that filled his face with joy.

Repent. A complete change of mind. For His kingdom is at hand.