Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pharisees, Lawyers and Believers.

Buckle up folks, we're getting Biblical for this one.
I had a conversation the other day that sat in my mind like a pebble in your shoe.  The context was resisting an evil man and the text is as follows:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

-Matthew 5

I brought this up to a brother in the church I was attending as the subject matter was lawsuits. What is the righteous measure? When I read this passage, I believed that the emphasis was laying down ones own life for awareness to God. Another idea was posed. Two brothers were sitting at a table discussing this with me and they gave me a broader context of the passage that I was previously unaware of. They stated that they saw the context of this passage to mean the Romans as an evil man, and that submission to them was merely a self preservation of life. I thought long and hard on this. The subject refused to leave my mind. So do I only" not resist an evil man" if my life is in danger as my brothers suggested? This seemed dismissive of the greater thrust of the Heart that I believed that the Savior was pointing out.

No offense to my brothers in this discussion, but I felt to minimize the thrust of the heart issue for the sake of a technicality was to in essence, take away from scripture. In my opinion to  intellectualize the passage is to be guilty of the same mindset that I think the pharisees were getting rebuked for.
Let me give an example:


Who is defined as a neighbor?

And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”  But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.  And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,  and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”  And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Luke 10


... seeking to justify himself. Do we take this to mean our neighbor is only Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon? Why would we do that same thing with the context of an Evil man in regards to the Romans. Does not resisting an evil man mean only being nice to North Koreans or Russians as it would be?

It doesn't seem to add up. To try and make that case would either be a mistake in understanding, or an action of  a lawyer seeking to be justified. ( I'd like to remind my readers that my focus is the idea here and not the individuals I was having the conversation with)

What I do see in the Messianic movement as a whole, as I have written several times, is this looming imperialistic intellectualism that is opposite of the heart focus that is becoming prevalent.
 This intellectualism is a breeding ground for pride in one of its most dangerous elements... looking almost right. A person looks at a scripture or a set of scriptures, then they intellectualize the passage to their understanding. Now, based on their understanding, they begin to justify certain actions and thoughts based on their interpretation of a passage. They may then teach their interpretations of a passage or surround themselves with people who will only agree with their interpretation of a passage. Then they being to criticize or rebuke others that do not adhere to their interpretations of a passage.   When in inevitable criticism arises and actions are called into question that is when one of two things will happen, the first being  repentance in humility which is derived from transparency.

Let's look at an example:



 But when Cephas( the Rock, Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.  The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.  But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
Galations 2

and God says the same thing to Peter in Acts 10

 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.  But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.”  As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled.  And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.”


Peter owns it and states that he was doing damage with his whole "Us, Them" Mentality. Peter's issue was choosing traditions and imperial intellectualism over people and what we should be doing


"“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,  but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him."

But more often we see the second outcome when ones is question or criticized about  their intellectual interpretation/ vanity/ pride


And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’  you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
 -Mark 7

Right from the mouth of the Savoir is the EXACT thing that I am discussing. Lawyering. Intellectualizing. Redefining the discussion to a frame that distances from the heart of an issue into one that is more preferably justifiable. Using the commands of God to one's own interpretation to keep from doing the heart of what God calls us to do.


He doesn't stop there. To further emphasize the point I am reiterating look to this passage

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;  therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.  They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.  But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,  and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8 But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.  But the greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Matthew 23



And this passage


 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:  “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18



But lets get back to that "not resisting and evil man"


 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12


Bless those who persecute you.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

I just cut my own heart out with a broken bottle on that passage.
I don't think I can even finish this blog. The rest of the passages are at the bottom



 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

1 cor 13'

4 [a]What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [b]Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask [c]with wrong motives, so that you may spend it [d]on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “[e]He [f]jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

James 4



 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.

John 15

7 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

John 10- The example is that we lay down our lives.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Note From The Editor

Thank you to all my loyal readers.... Both of you.
Also thank you to the everyone who took the time to read my last post, even though it upset many people. I don't think that the sum of all of my blog hits this year are equal to the hits that last post received. Some left anonymous angry comments about how I didn't  give the names of the people in many of the scenarios that I mentioned. First, The irony of posting about not naming names anonymously was not lost on me, I laughed about it later. I'm still having a chuckle about it now. Secondly, The main post that I didn't post names was because this wasn't about them. If I have something to say to someone, I generally say it to that someone. What I was writing about was concepts and things that I see in regards to people, not the people in of themselves.

When it comes to writing, one of the rules is to write what you know. As this is; a private blog, a place as advertised where I write my thoughts on God, man, sin, death, failure, triumph and all the laughter and anguish that they produce... I write my thoughts on various things that I know. I know frustrations at times through the wide reaching aspects of those who call them selves believers in God. Sometimes those frustrations are small aspects that I see that I find curious as to why things were done a certain way. I write doctrine as I understand it. I write transparent shortcomings when I do not meet my own expectations of what I value and hold to be true and right. Sometimes my thoughts echo a call to a higher standard for myself, and even my readers in the body of believers. That's right, both of you.

Now to clarify something that many people took issue with ( allegedly, as nobody strictly came right to me to discuss the issues they felt that were talking about them... but instead talked to a friend and a friend of a friend who talked to a family member who had a meeting and phone calls were made, but I digress)


"What good is it to discuss word pictures, arrangements of Hebrew letters, place values, star positions,  iconography ... when you haven't the essentials of love?
"hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."

Some of you read this passage and felt that I was speaking against such things as Hebrew letter pictures, or Number commentaries or star positioning. I was not speaking against such things but attempting to draw the conclusion that these are extracurricular academic ventures in regards ministry. The thrust must be interpersonal relationships and the aspects of heart improvement, life improvement, love improvement. These are intellectual candy. Candy is good. Everyone loves candy. If you eat candy every day all day your teeth will rot and you'll have other minor side effects such as death.

Another conclusion that was drawn from the italicized passage was the suggestion that I was chastising  a specific group of people as not loving. I fully admit that I could have done a better job clarifying my points and I understand how some people got that conclusion even though that was not my intent.  It wasn't to say why are we doing A, B, and C when we don't have love at all, and we're failures and hypocrites who don't have relationships with anyone. I can see how that could be interpreted, and again, not my intention.  In one conversation I had with a gentleman ( heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another he was bothered by my post) He explained that he was hurt because He's a numbers guy and felt that I was saying that he doesn't love. In reality, my writing my post, I wasn't even thinking of him specifically. I assured the man that He is one of the most gracious and loving examples of righteousness that I have be fortunate enough to have met. I hold him in high regard because in his communication with me he has always been gentle and humble. I apologized for offense that I may have caused him even though it wasn't intentional, and I felt that the relationship grew a little deeper with better understanding from the exchange.


 "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
                                                 -Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry


Last Sukkot, I good friend of mine did a brief teaching titled "The Why". In it he discussed the importance of not just giving orders but explaining the Why we do the things that we do. We have customs and we have traditions, and many times we do them because.... well, it's what we do.  Intellectualism and knowledgeable study is an asset. It is a strength. I acknowledge that.
But why? What are we gathering wood for?  Occasionally we drift far from the Why. The Why is a Crucified Messiah for the sin of man. My sin. Your sin. Both of you.
"Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies" This caution isn't to say that by searching knowledge one forsakes love. This is the concept that I was trying to convey, the warning that knowledge and intellectualism can and does often distance a person from the very real and humanizing truth that we're all called to Love foremost. I quoted the passage about the pharisees as an illustration of a rebuke that the Savior gave to the scholars,The intellectuals, the learned men who know the Torah through and through, but have let that Knowledge case them to drift from the anchor of love.
The why.

I'm sure some would ask if I was implying that they aren't loving enough. I'd answer, are any of us? Can we ever?
... shouldn't we try?
....  Can't we do better?


With love and apologies from all of us here,
( Me, I count as two)


- Jay M. Muratore-