Friday Fruit from the Vine: Get Real

Have you ever really read Matthew 5? I know I have before, and was really paying attention. But for some reason, this time it was like looking into Lake Tahoe- I felt like I could see the bottom, the waters were so crystal clear!

In the past, I have noticed the different themes Jesus is touching on: Anger, Divorce, Lust, Oaths, Retaliation, Loving your enemies. But when you read it without creating sections and themes, when you read it as Jesus spoke it to His disciples with the backdrop of the Pharisees, you see that Jesus is really just talking about one thing. STOP THE RELIGIOSITY. STOP THE OUTWARD MORALITY. GET REAL!

We think, or at least I do sometimes, that we’re doing pretty good. We don’t do this or that. And we DO this good thing and that great thing. However, if we will allow this text to lead us to repentance, we will see that Jesus ups the ante enough to condemn each one of us. And then he tops it of with a demand of perfection: “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” and “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

With these raised standards, who can attain? Who can be that perfect? Not me. Obviously not even the scribes and Pharisees, to which he referred. So who? NO ONE. NO ONE is justified in His sight.

I do lust sometimes. I certainly get angry. And I seldom can justify it as being “righteous anger.” I haven’t ever been divorced, but I’ve certainly wanted to. Lusted after it, in moments. Woahhh, killed two birds with one stone, there. I have taken oaths and broken oaths. I have retaliated. And I don’t love my enemies. I have a hard enough time loving my family and friends.

So how can I come before God?

Go from Matthew 5 to Romans 5.

“Therefore, since we have been JUSTIFIED by faith, we have peace with God THROUGH our Lord JESUS Christ.”

The only way I can stand perfect before a perfect Father is Jesus.

And today, I sing,

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His word…

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!”

He who justified us, who we trust to present us as perfect before a holy God, is trustworthy for all things. So get real with others and get real with Him today. Not real good, or real moral, or real religious or real presentable. Just get real with Jesus! He presents you before the Father BLAMELESS!

Book Review: The Reason For God

The Reason for God by Tim Keller is truly an incredible book. Written primarily to the skeptic, it acknowledges and gives answers to some of the most common objections to Christianity, to Jesus, in an anything-but-dry manner.

The book is for believers, too.  In the introduction, he speaks of  two camps: liberalism and conservatism, progressives and fundamentalists, unbelievers and believers, skeptics and those of faith. But he says there is a third camp, “Christians who [have] a concern for justice in the world but who [ground] it in the nature of God rather than in their own subjective feelings.” He calls believers to wrestle with their doubts, to confront them instead of ignoring them. “A faith without some doubts is like a human body with any antibodies in it.” People who don’t “ask hard questions about why the believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.”

This book is intellectually challenging but still manages to reach the heart of the matter and to touch your own heart in the process, bringing you closer to God’s heart and the object of our faith: Jesus!

Verdict: Excellent. (Quality on literally every page!)