The Superiority of Matthew 5 Thinking

I have been dumbfounded over the past few days to see the reaction of many to the tasteless video created that denigrates Islam. However, the reaction of passionate supporters of Islam has caused me to reflect on the superiority of Matthew 5 thinking. When I say superior thinking, let me clarify first what I do not mean. What I do not believe is that historically people in the West are smarter than Islamic people. What I do not mean is that my Western ancestors are genetically superior. What I do believe is that the values of Matthew 5 could easily be lost in a generation and my descendants could act just as barbaric as those we have been observing in the news the past few days.

Although much more than what follows is evident in Matthew 5 thinking, one of my favorite principles is highlighted in verses 38-48: acting in vengeance is not the path to spiritual maturity. You might remember that this familiar section of scripture begins with: “You have heard that it has been said, An eye for eye and tooth for tooth . . . .” What follows this Matthew 38a would have been recognized and is still recognized as a counter-intuitive reaction based on natural human emotion, namely that we should love our enemies. Verse 48 clarifies that spiritual maturity is to be measured against becoming perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.

Wow, what a high and holy calling we share as Christians, but there is also a good amount of practical reasoning inherent in this section of scripture. When I consistently act in a reactionary manner I empower others. My Spirit-led instinct as a believer is to say that I shouldn’t pay too much attention to art that degrades Christianity. Certainly, there are instances where moral outrage is warranted, but even then a reasoned response is most appropriate. The reaction of many Christian Scholars to Brown’s Davinci Code a few years ago would be a supreme example of a thoughtful response that did a lot of kingdom good.  Christians have not always responded in such a thoughtful manner, thus not following the advice of their leader.

Yes, I say boldly that Matthew 5 thinking is superior, but it’s not because we’re smarter (i.e., Christians in the US or a Western way of thinking). The reason Matthew 5 thinking is superior is because Jesus is God. He shows us ways to think that humans aren’t capable of inventing or sustaining on their own. Every believer who is serious about walking with Christ understands that recognizing the value of Matthew 5 thinking has barely accomplished half of the task. Living out Matthew 5 is extraordinarily more difficult. Again, the ability to do so does not come from a superior commitment to self-discipline. Loving your enemies in the manner Jesus described can only be accomplished by walking in the Spirit.

I do recognize that suggesting that God desires to share His divine nature with us to the extent Peter says He does (2 Peter 1:4) is very offensive to Muslims. That reality saddens me. I really do believe there could be peace among us. But only if all recognize that Jesus is Lord. Until then, may we boldly be martyred for Him, declaring His victory with every wound.

Disclaimer: This blog does not reflect my view on the sovereign right of a nation to protect itself but rather the appropriate response of the Church and individual Christians to attacks of various type.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cassidy on September 17, 2012 at 2:08 am

    These are great thoughts! Thanks for posting!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Chris on September 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Good word. As sharp and Smith put it in Holy Gatherings…”If what makes a difference to God’s people as they assemble, it will be reflected in what they think, say, and do as they go their way after the service. Worship as an event in the sanctuary has to transition into worship as a lifestyle.” (p.55) A lifestyle of loving your enemy and forgiving your enemy is easier said than done. It takes walking in the Spirit to worship outside the sanctuary.

    Reply

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