February 19, 2016
Thus says the Lord GOD: If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Ez_18:21-28
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” Mt_5:20-26
It seems, as we go through life, that we find ourselves constantly judged by others. From that very first breath we take, they’re asking “What’s our height” and “What’s our weight”, so they can place us on some chart of normalcy. And that was followed by the timing of our first tooth, our first word, and our first step. When we finally got to school age, it was all about how smart or how pretty we were, in comparison to our classmates and teachers. And if we didn’t quite fit their mold, it seemed there were a thousand other ways we could be labeled a failure or an outcast.
And the working world was no different; where the cost of being too unique, or a little too creative, or a little slower than all the others was much greater than just a label.
Then on the flip-side of all that, there was our faith life. And they told us that “God loves us no matter what.” That was until we got to Lent. And all of a sudden we start hearing about Sodom and Gomorrah, about Jonah and the great fish, about the Prophets and the Pharisees, and about Life and Death. And it was judgment all over again.
Only this time, the price, the cost, was even greater than losing our job. It was life itself. And we’d wonder if there was ever any end to it all!
And yet, there really IS something extraordinarily different between God’s judgment and the world’s. Because God truly is on OUR side. And when we actually think about Lent, we might even ask ourselves, “Just WHO is the Judge?”
And when it really gets down to it, what we find, is that – it is WE who are the worst judges of ourselves. It’s all the “I shouldn’t haves” and “I should haves” that wear us down. And in the end, we can literally guilt ourselves to Death.
Thus we get to exactly what the Prophet Ezekiel and Jesus were talking about today. You see, God really does love us no matter what. The problem is: DO WE? And if we don’t, how do we fix it?
Well, that too, is exactly what God wants for us. He wants for us to fix ourselves, so that we DON’T die of Guilt. And in order to do that, God gave us a whole bunch of Should’s and Shouldn’ts that can totally eliminate our Guilt. And maybe thinking it was just a little much for us, God then sent Jesus to show us precisely how it is done.
And Jesus condensed all those Shoulds and Shouldn’ts into one simple word – LOVE!
IF in whatever we do and in everything we do, we can find the purpose, the goal, the reason for that thought or action to be Love, then, BAM, we just got rid of some guilt.
Can we love those who judge us? (Well maybe, just not hate them.) Bam, there goes some more guilt.
Can we love those who hurt us? (Well maybe, just not hate them.) Bam, there goes even more guilt.
And can we even love our enemies? (Well maybe, just not hate them.) Bam, here comes the Kingdom of Heaven.
You see, brothers and sisters, God really does love us, and He wants nothing greater than to see us all reach that Goal, that heavenly reward – forever.
And Jesus calls it LIFE!
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