You are not reading this, I’m not writing this, and it doesn’t exist… you ain’t see me, and this is not the blog you’re looking for.
Retreating from the world just isn’t what it used to be. I’m sitting on a boat somewhere north of Newcastle (UK), where I expected to be out of communication with the world and to find some peace. Wrong on both counts- I’ve had mobile signal all the time since arrival, and I’m sitting here merrily online thanks to a borrowed laptop.
Anyway, thought I’d put a few thoughts on yesterday’s Essential Jesus passage, which was Matthew chapter 23. Its one of those passages that destroys the myth that Jesus was permanently mild-mannered, and never showed emotion. As he lays into the teachers of the law its pretty hard hitting stuff. And what’s he so cross about? Integrity, or their lack of it. He starts out by saying that his listeners should listen to the pharisees and the teachers, doing as they say… following this praise by the indictment ‘but don’t do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach’. Ouch. Thats got to be one of the worst things for someone who’s promoting a certain set of ethics to hear- ‘your ideas are ok, but you’re not demonstrating them’.
Usually when we turn to Scripture its for help or support, for wisdom or for teaching, but this chapter is as much a warning and a strong challenge as any Old Testament prophet, full of imagery. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t help us, but it needs to be approached with caution- remembering who Jesus was talking to on the one hand, and yet recognising that these things can be true of us all on the other.
So help others, be humble, don’t elevate yourself, open the doorway to God’s grace and allow others in, recognise that its God who is sacred rather than the ways we worship Him, work towards justice, be pure inwardly as well as clean outwardly, and more… its all contained within this chapter. These aren’t the kind of things we look for, or we want to hear, but actually, maybe they’re what we need to be reminded of.
Oh, and the peace? Well, lets just say sailing with family is great fun, but not really peaceful!