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Just me and another millstone

March 28, 2017

We’ve been teaching through the Gospel of Matthew for about six months now to a class of young men (high school) who are eager to learn more as they develop discernment and begin to understand context. Both are absolutely necessary as we are called to make disciples, and they are as well.

Several weeks ago we were in Matthew 18, and had a great discussion on verses 1 through 6. Jesus’s disciples are having a pride-filled argument over greatness (having missed almost every clue about humility and meekness) and now come to Him seeking the answer to the question they all were asking. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus, lovingly gives them an unexpected (to them, and even to some of us today) answer. Bringing a child into their midst he tells them they must turn and become like children. Humble themselves like the child. Whoever humbles themselves like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child, receives me.” (v.5)

Verse 6, in context, isn’t just about evilally tempting children. It’s directed (foreshadowing) to ALL His followers (the Church). Think of a child in this case as a new Christian. Someone who still believes they need a checklist of “good” things to do in order to be saved. Someone who would twist scripture around, or add man-made rules, or even take verses out of context is every bit as guilty in leading “little ones to sin” by adding to their checklist. (Don’t drink the wrong drink, don’t eat the wrong food, don’t wear clothing of mixed textiles, don’t eat shellfish, don’t neglect refugees, widows or orphans…vote the same way I do…it’s an exhaustive, back-breaking list). We all have had a millstone around our necks at some time or another, and it’s probably a safe bet to say we make habits of adding more millstones daily. To say otherwise would make us liars. Thank God for the Gospel. The Law sets the bar, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is our good news that not just attains it, but absolutely PROCLAIMS IT!. We’re made righteous through it, not from a single thing we did. Our checklists may as well be bloody rags.

Christ said in Matthew 15:10, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (ESV)

Go ahead, eat the shellfish, grab some bacon, have a glass of wine or pour a beer (the last two, if you’re over 21) .

As Christians, we’re still “Simul justus est peccator”. Simultaneously righteous and sinner. We can all put on some really awesome appearances, but if it’s just a show, then the world will (does) see right through them. The Christian life is one of repentance. Daily.

So, when I’m not feeling particularly “Christian” I remember that the One who both created me and loved me calls me His own, and that I’m only righteous because of Him, not because of me.

That’s a big burden off my back too, thank God.

Amen

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