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Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on Aug 31, 2014 | Comments (0)


Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Click here to go to the Bottom Line Meditations for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Godly Abiding Spiritually in Jesus Changes the Meaning of What we See Worldly When Not Abiding in Jesus.

Spirituality is our innate ability to feel the difference worldly or godly thinking makes to the way scripture translates to our daily life and relationships.

All Scripture is a testimony to Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. He is the complete revelation of God’s will of grace for salvation. Grace is the only unfailing rule of faith and practice for the Christian life.

The Gospel of grace is: rather than trying to be more faithful to become faithful, we become faithful by feeling the Faith God already has for and in us.

The Strength of Christianity is Grace

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Another name for Jesus is "Grace". Another name for God is "Grace". We are saved by GRACE. "Love" is not Love if it is not grace. This is true for "Faith", "Hope", "Joy" and all other theological words of significance in the scripture.

Until someone experiences the grace gift in their lives, all other theological words have no real meaning. Why not begin to use the word "grace" in place of "Jesus", "God", "the Spirit", "Love" and so on? It might seem inappropriate to do so. However, until it is actually experienced it will make no sense at all.

That is what this year is all about. Grace, did you get it?

 

Grace refreshes the parts others cannot reach.

When we find it difficult to accept others, we need remember times when grace reached out to refresh us when we might have been found difficult to accept.

Pray this prayer from the Collect for this Sunday:

”Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Now quietly move into God's Presence and pray the prayer again:

“Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Did you feel the difference?

 

Matthew 18:15-20 “Let them be as a Gentile”

Do you read this scripture literally as to what to do with unrepentant church members or do you read this scripture spiritually using the story to compare and contrast the difference in how you handle an unrepentant church member? The story seems to be one of those “THAT DOES IT” moments. We have done all we could and finally, that does it!

If a member of the church sins against you, point out their fault. If they do not listen to you, take witnesses. If they refuse to listen to them, tell it to the church. If the offender refuses to listen to the church, let them be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

One way of looking at this story would be from the judgmental side as to what Jesus said to do. These procedures are to act on the authority of heaven.

The greatest sin is an unrepentant member who is unrepentant about their sins against the community or its members. The Christian community must publicly dissociate itself from them. One should treat such a person as a tax collector or a Gentile: unclean and to be avoided. We do not want them to contaminate other members. They need to be made to feel ashamed of their condition. We have the right to abandon unrepentant offenders and treat them like social outcasts as the heathen and the publican are treated by the Jew.

By removing an unrepentant sinner from the Christian community, believers merely ratify the heavenly court's decree removing branches already dead on the vine. The unrepentant person has already left God's way and cannot be restored without repentance. This is how you remove an unrepentant sinner from the Christian community.

A woman left her Church to come to ours. This scripture happened to be the first one she heard. She was rather shaken. In her past church her husband had been unfaithful to her. She could not take it and chose to divorce him. He tried to become reconciled but she could not do it because of his past history. He brought two witnesses to talk with her. She still refused not to divorce him. He was a member of the Church Council. She was brought before the Counsel. They told her to repent and not get divorced. Because her husband was on the council, the Church did not want to lose him. She was condemned and rather than be shamed and humiliated, she left the Church.

Another way of looking at this scripture is to compare and contrast the different way the Jews and Jesus treated gentiles and tax collectors. He did not judge them. He loved them, ate with them and hung out with them. Jesus said to the self-righteous, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you [self-righteous, religious leaders].”

I like to call this “The Sandwich Effect” in Scripture. It is not just one slice. It is a many tiered sandwich. We need to realize the Bible was not written in Chapter and verse. It is an artificial convenience. Traditionally the Hebrew Scriptures never had these separations. The Bible is a novel and it builds on its pieces and refers to what has already been written.

Check out the scripture before and after this lesson. The scripture before is the story of the lost sheep. A man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away. He leaves the ninety-nine and goes after the lost one. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. God pursues the lost sheep. We need to purse the lost, unrepentant person as that shepherd did.

We forgive a person for our sake not theirs. It does not mean what they did was alright because we forgive them. I heard a preacher say if we forgive a person but still do not trust them we have not forgiven them. What nonsense! We do not trust all gentiles, tax collectors or church members. Trust is to be earned. The result of the court is to warn the community to take care.

I had a situation in the parish that a person was acting in an inappropriate way. I talked to them. I also talked to the church to be wary of any person acting in a certain manner. I did not mention names, but the word was out. I believe Jesus is giving us the permission on how to deal lovingly with church members but not a judgmental command as to what to do. I believe He expects us to do the loving thing and to use the Wisdom and common sense that comes from abiding in Him. You will know.

“Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


THE DISCIPLE-SHIFT: The Virtual Small Group: Members share once a week with their group through the internet when a shift from being out to being in the Presence made a difference.


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