Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

Matthew 5

Posted: August 3, 2009 in Matthew
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The Beatitudes, or as a pastor once referred to as “The Beautiful Attitudes”, should go fist to fist with the Ten Commandments and take them down.  If people really want God to stay in schools, this list of dos and don’ts in chapter 5 should be the list cross-stitched and hung in school hallways.

Reason 1—They are more recent, thus maybe, more pertinent.

Reason 2—There are two different Ten Commandments. One found in Exodus Chapter 20. Moses breaks those, then God tells him He will write them again, and gives Moses a whole different list in Chapter 34.

Reason 3—Fourth graders rarely need to be told not to covet their classmate’s wife.Fields of the Wood

My school years were ideal. My elementary school was attached to my church through a maze of open-air hallways and resource buildings. The school and the church shared the same building. On weekdays they housed the upper grades and some art classrooms and on the Sundays they were for Single’s Sunday school and Adult 1 and Adult 2.  Adult 3 was at the cemetery.

I could roam around the place as if it were a neighborhood.  After school on Wednesdays, before church would begin, my friend and I would eat a snack in the cafeteria, run through the parking lot, put lip gloss on in the ladies’ bathroom, pretty much making our own kingdom on earth.

My principal was a woman of about 5 feet tall with a humpback and the surname of an British University. She was a kind woman, but just her presence and name were enough to keep everyone in line…which could be hard because many church schools have two types of students:1) the Christian kids whose parents want them to grow up with knowledge of the Lord and 2) wayward kids whose parents want them to be disciplined into an inch of them crying out, “Oh Lord.”

The playground is where it all happened. Away from the strong gaze of the teachers, kids snuck behind a big tree to practice curse words or gang up on an innocent victim. I remember getting hit over the head by Trip Willington with the board of the teeter totter. Life was tough for a gangsta. I heard that some kids actually had their first kisses behind that tree—a literal Tree of Knowledge.

The teacher’s aides who watched us had to sit in a kiddy seat in the Florida sun. Some were quiet and let the kids run around like red ants while others couldn’t wait for authorization to pull out the Old Testament rod and let the kids have a whack.

The playground was gated on three sides, sharing the fourth side with the wall of the church’s Sunday School building. It was three stories tall and made of red brick. With a stroke of 1970s genius, someone had built it with some bricks protruding further out than the others to make the design of a three story cross. No matter what time of day, the sun would cause a shaded pattern against the wall so that even from the busy street, drivers would get the message.

And the message was this: God is love.bumperlovekill

That is what I am going to keep a farsighted eye out for in the New Testament. Starting with Jesus’ first sermon—the sermon that should be the one plastered in front of courthouses and student water fountains.

Posting “Blessed at the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God,” instead of “make no graven images” might cut down on the bootlegged selling of golden idols being sold on school grounds.

Kids would learn to “Simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. We can eliminate those essay questions at the end of tests that make students expound and save paper by moving everything to scan trons.

Fights would be predictable and short—how long does it take to get hit and turn the other cheek?

“If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” This is  sound reason for uniforms in public schools. At least both thieves and victims will come home in something similar to what they went to school in.

Then there is the section about cutting off limbs and gouging out your eyes if they lead you to sin. Middle schools alone could pull America’s education system out of debt by selling dirty-minded kids’ organs on the black market.

“The meek shall inherit the earth.”  For those who don’t know what is happening to the earth, the rumor is that after Jesus returns and the Rapture occurs (that is when all the people driving the SUVs with fish stickers on the trunks disappear and the ones who are driving Volvos and Subarus have to turn down NPR and attend to the chaos) well, then the saved in Heaven get to return to earth. There are a thousand variations on this, but that is the most common. So, does that mean the meek will then be the rulers of the planet? Will they be the richest? Will they get the whole place to themselves while all the others live on some other planet?

meek shirt

"The Meek Are Getting Ready"

If kids aren’t willing to save the earth for the sake of the future generations they will never see, perhaps they can be persuaded to save it for the cute, meek girl in Social Studies.

Kids won’t go hungry or without school supplies because they will read, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not run away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Until, of course, someone calls it socialism.

Though these new commands are universally good ideas, Jesus doesn’t let up with saying that having a good attitude is going to get people anywhere. His first words about getting into heaven are: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees (pious little church men) and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Um, heaven seems to be pretty empty to me now. UNLESS, he was digging at jimbakerthe Pharisees, saying that “if you can’t stay more moral than Tony Alamo, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard (pious little church men) then don’t think you are getting in these pearly gates.” That I can understand.

Of course, the best line is “love your enemies.” Though everyone seems to be going to hell in this chapter, speaking of love always stands out. Does it overshadow all the doom? No. But it gives a little hope. However, how do we do this? How do we love Saddam Hussein and the man who killed a child? How can we l.o.v.e. them? And, should we? Should we reward those people with our love? I find that difficult to reconcile.loveyourenemy-2

But, that is the least of my troubles, because Jesus ends his sermon by asking us to do the impossible triple Lutz, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I guess these shouldn’t be posted to school walls. How can anyone, especially a kid, abide by these? Live up to these? They aren’t suggestions; it clearly states you won’t get into heaven if you don’t do them.  When I read these when I was young I always reminded myself about grace. But, reading now, I haven’t gotten to the part about grace yet. In fact, I am sort-of depressed.

Some people are just not going to make the cut, me included. They might need to find creative ways to get to heaven. Maybe they can be like the kid at my elementary. He climbed up the brick cross like it was a step ladder. Getting about half-way up, the lady watching us made even the kids smooching behind the tree freeze by yelling, “One more step and I’ll nail you to it.”brickwall