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Until we can take the teachings of Christ and root them in our hearts, the life Christ has for us can’t be fulfilled.

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38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:38-48

 

In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes dramatic comments for those who choose to live the Christian life.  Earlier in Matthew 5:17, Jesus describes how he comes not to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law.  As we read his words today, we witness a movement from understanding the law towards experiencing grace.  The short but very transitional phrase Jesus says is, “But I say to you.”

We also witness a movement from the external to the internal within the text.  When reading the Old Testament laws, we naturally relate them to outward appearances.  However, here we find Jesus describing external appearances as something rooted – an internal, deep-set, heart-anchored reality. Over and over, we find Jesus demonstrating that what resides in our heart will present itself in our appearance.

Until we can take the teachings of Christ – the same teachings from the Old Testament – and root them in our hearts, the life Christ has for us can’t be fulfilled. As you reflect on Pastor Ryan’s message and how he described kingdoms in conflict, take up the challenge to read Matthew 5:38-48 everyday this week with a different lens. Today, read the passage noticing aspects of law verse grace. Then decide on one way to show this type of grace to someone today (this might need to be yourself).

 

Do you think that I have come
to abolish the Law and the Prophets:
I have not come to abolish them
but to fulfill them.
– Matthew 5:17

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By Rich Obrecht

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