April 7 - Matthew 5:23-26

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 7 - Matthew 5:23-26

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

The importance of community in Judaism and the early Christian church is something that is difficult for us to comprehend in Western Christianity today.  Lives were lived out within the communities, much as they are in many cultures outside of Europe and North America.  In reading about the spread of Christianity in the global South (Africa, Central & South America, Asia); one thing that has been found is that the nature of many different cultures allows them to dig in and understand Scripture much differently than we do in the West.

They live much more communally than we do.  People take care of each other’s children, homes are open and people spend a great deal of time with each other rather than by themselves.  When there is disruption between a few people, the entire community is disturbed.

In our churches we have no issue allowing feelings of anger and hurt to follow us into the sanctuary.  There is plenty of space in that room for everyone to sit and listen to the music and the words of the pastor and feel as if each person is in the right and has been wounded by the other.  There is no need for reconciliation.  Church goes on, everyone goes to their own homes and pretty soon, it’s just the way we live.

Jesus challenges us to be better than the world.  Our gifts and sacrifices that we offer to God mean so much less when our hearts are filled with fury and bitterness.