Sermon on the (Pol)Mount
Matthew 5: 21 – 26
It is peculiar how language can translate well at times. For instance, I am certain that every nation has a particular expression which conveys the meaning, ‘I am not responsible for what has happened so please look elsewhere for someone to blame’. In England, this expression is, ‘I didn’t do nuffink’; in the US, it is, ‘I didn’t do it’; in Zimbabwe: ‘I am not the one’, and in Scotland, it translates to, ‘It wissne me’!
I say that I am certain this phrase is international because experience teaches me that it is the default mode with the vast majority of people when it comes to accepting responsibility for something that is not as it should be.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about a person making an offering to God in the Temple and whilst doing so, remembers that someone has something against him. In other words, there is a problem with a relationship. It does not matter what the relationship is, and, significantly, it does not matter whose fault it is or what the cause is. Something is not as it should be.
What does Jesus say we must do in this situation? Two things:
- He said that we are to stop making that offering. It does not matter that we are engaged in a holy and God-relating task which should take priority. It seems clear to me that putting things right with another takes priorty, and is the holier task in Jesus’ eyes.
- And we are to take the initiative. Jesus said that I must go to that person quickly and seek to put things right whilst there is time, whilst there is oppertunity, before it is too late. Oh yes, the other may not welcome such advances, the other may despise and ridicule for them, but that is not a reason not to make the effort.
Who knows, perhaps the Spirit of God has been working in both of you. Perhaps now is the time. Perhaps it is not too late.