Believe and Obey

A Radical Christian Perspective on the World's News & Current Events

The Same as it Ever Was and Should Be

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Condemned Either Way

The text this week is Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30.  This has two somewhat disparate passages, yet they are rightfully connected.  The first part has Jesus seeking something to compare the current generation to.  He compares His current generation to children sitting in marketplaces and calling to one another.  What they are calling is a couple of no-win scenarios.  They call out that they played the flute and yet you did not dance, and then they wailed, and you did not mourn.  One gets the impression that if you had danced, they would have called you a libertine and if you had wailed, they would have called you mordant. 

This impression is strengthened by Jesus talking about those who criticized John the Baptist for not eating or drinking and claiming that because of this John had a demon.  Then they turn around and see Jesus eating and drinking and call Him a drunkard and a glutton, as well as a friend of tax-collectors and other assorted sinners.  In short, they damn Jesus if He does, and they damn Him if He doesn’t.

This type of attitude is the same today as it was then.  We see followers of Jesus condemned for doing or not doing one thing or another.  If you are acting as you should, you are called a self-righteous snob who thinks they are better than the rest.  If you act in ways you should not, you are a hypocrite or a liar.  Never is it granted that Christians never (or should never) claimed to be perfect, only forgiven.  It is easier to always find a way to condemn than to do nuance.  Jesus knew all too well about this sort of attitude, so it should not surprise us that it continues today.

The Way It Should Be, Then and Now

The second part, at first glance seems disconnected from the first.  Yet, if we think about it, it does indeed belong in this passage.  This shows Jesus thanking God for what He has given us.  He talks about how good it is that God hid these things from the wise and intelligent and let His gifts be known to infants.  It seems that Jesus is referring to the pure of heart, not literally infants.  Infants simply believe, which is what Jesus is pointing us toward.  He is thankful that God handed over to His Son all things and that in turn Jesus has chosen to reveal Himself to His followers.  If the text ended here, one might think that this was to be an exclusive club, but the text does not end here.

Jesus then makes an invitation to all who are weary, and isn’t that all of us.  Jesus offers us rest from our worries, true eternal worries that is.  Take Jesus’s yoke upon us and learn from Him.  He is gentle and humble, and our souls will find rest in Jesus.  This is an easy yoke to bear and is indeed a light burden.  How could learning from Jesus how to live a fully human life be a difficult burden?  We do all this because we believe that God’s word is true, the resurrection is real, and that Jesus is Lord.  Thanking God for all that He has done through His Son Jesus the Christ is connected to the world’s handing us no win scenarios because that is what humanity’s response should have always been.  So in the face of a hostile world simply believe and then obey.

Praise Be to God

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