Ryan & Jordan

with Pioneer Bible Translators

Tag: The Gospel according to Matthew

Time for Faithfulness

by ryan

There are a lot of things we don’t have time for, and that is part of what it means to be a creature, a non-god.

We people are little; we are weak and quick to become frail.  Life is short they say.  And they are right.  In all this shortness, there is a whole lot of busyness we try to cram in.  Why?

People are little who yearn for big.

We were created this way, and I will mention two ways  we can respond.  The first extreme is to try to become a god, to transcend our littleness on our own.  Perhaps we try doing more than is humanly possible, cramming our schedules, skipping out on sleep, or neglecting the Sabbath.  Or maybe we go so far as trying to earn people’s worship.

An alternative to this is embracing our creatureliness, along with its limitations, while at the same time reaching out for God in faithful worship.  What does that look like?

I think of Jesus as he taught his students to feed the multitudes.  If they had tried to provide food for thousands on their own, they would have failed miserably.  But because they were with Jesus and they obeyed him, everyone was fed.

There is a big peace and rest that comes from realizing we are just people, while at the same time realizing that God is God.  And God is here, now.

Now, we have time for faithfulness.

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Have Mercy: second part

by ryan

This is an extension of the July 25 post Have Mercy.  We reflect more on what our friend Matthew is teaching us (in a sense two friends named Matthew if you count the one who wrote the book almost 2000 years ago).

And on the mountain Jesus also taught:

μακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήμονες,

ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται.

In English:

The merciful are blessed

because they will be shown mercy.

God is the source of mercy; we are to be conduits of mercy.  We must first receive from God.  If we receive mercy, we must also extend mercy. To better understand this, let’s look at an analogy from the geography of the Jordan River.

The Jordan (which means ‘Descender’) flows out of the Sea of Galilee down into the Dead Sea.  The moving water is God’s life-giving mercy.   The Sea of Galilee was a great spot to fish in Jesus’ time.  The fish are people.  You might have guessed this, but there are no fish in the Dead Sea, because it has no outlet and so mineral concentrations are too high.

So in the Jordan River valley, fish live where water flows.  People live where mercy flows.  The Jordan used to be large and teaming with fish, but now the fish aren’t doing so well because the flow has been diminished by dams.

People don’t do so well when they block the flow of God’s mercy. So let’s stop building dams and start passing on the mercy we receive. Let’s be like the Jordan, receiving water from on high and then passing it on to the people downstream.  That’s where life happens.

Jordan my wife is a good reminder and her name is fitting, because she passes God’s mercy along to me every day.

Have Mercy

by ryan

One day Jesus went up a hill with his disciples and taught them.  As it is written:

Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι,

ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.

Or, in English:

The Spiritually Bankrupt are blessed,

because the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Spiritually what?

Let me tell you a story inspired by a story Jesus told (Luke, chapter 18).

One day two very different men happened to be praying side by side at an important spiritual place.  One man was a religious expert, an authority on the Scriptures.  The other was a business man who cheated people, embezzled funds and was a traitor against his people.

The Religious Man stands and prays, “God I thank you that I am not like other men: blackmailers, unjust people, people who have sex outside of marriage, or this bad business man next to me.  I fast twice a week and I offer ten percent of what I get to you.”

The Business Man didn’t even look up. “God, be merciful to me, a man who has wronged you.”

Then Jesus says, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who realize they could never be good enough to earn God’s forgiveness and favor–the Spiritually Bankrupt.

We are all Spiritually Bankrupt.  The thing is, only some people ask for mercy.

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We’d like to thank our friend Matthew for teaching what inspired this reflection .