May 13, 2015

Matthew 5.13-16

You are the salt of the Earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its salt be restored? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trodden under foot.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.

Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand; and thus it gives light to all in the house.

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Again, Jesus is addressing Israel, 'the people that wrestles with God', explaining what it means to be 'Israel' and live in a realm under God's jurisdiction. [This would likewise apply to any group who hopes to take that role and serve that function, various Christian denominations for example.]

Salt wasn't just a spice in his society; it came in little cakes that were essential for baking bread in dung-fuelled ovens, in a place where 'firewood' would have been a luxury. They worked as a catalyst to make the flame burn clean and not pollute the bread. They did in fact lose their salt over time, and what was left wouldn't make good seasoning either.

A people like Israel [or like the Quakers?] isn't set aside just to taste good to ourselves; there's a function we're meant to serve.

That city on the hill was Jerusalem. The Pharisees, who since then came to follow Hillel's humane and enlightened interpretations of Israelite law, were at the time dominated by their narrow and legalistic nationalist faction; there had been a theological discussion with clubs and spears in which many of Hillel's school had been massacred and his school purged from the leadership.
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillel_and_Shammai ) Many of Jesus' subsequent disputes against 'the Pharisees' were with that group, and this passage points to a significant divergence: he believes that Israel is to be 'a light to the nations', and not by merely being pious among themselves.

So far as Israel, and with it the rest of humanity, are becoming ready to live under God's jurisdiction, this can't really be done in hiding. No in-group can keep the Kingdom for themselves; it stretches out to include everyone, whether or not they think they belong. 

2 Comments:

At 6:48 p.m., Blogger olivia said...

Yes! This is a wonderful indictment of all of us.

"A people like Israel [or like the Quakers?] isn't set aside just to taste good to ourselves; there's a function we're meant to serve", etc.

My recent beef is with those of us who are more comfortable with the trappings of our faith than the call to minister to those who don't like what the trappings represent (what our society has shown "Christianity" to be -- frequently warmongering and the rest).

I wish our lives would more often be in this type of service that actually has that "flavor". I suspect that would confound us collectively and we wouldn't be able to agree on what the Salt even is or requires of us (would simply return to the trappings of our faith as "what is required of us").

 
At 7:43 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

It could be an 'indictment'; but I'd rather it be heard as a diagnosis, and treated!

'Comfortable with the trappings of our faith'... okay, various outward testimonies in the past, "Quaker Process" these days...

more than:
'the call to minister to those who don't like ...'

Um, don't like what? I'm quite lost in the verbiage here, sorry! They don't like 'ministering-to' or they don't like being the 'ministeringees'? Or both? --

I've had this beef, & been taking this flack for a long time in my own Meeting, between recognizing that they don't look or sound like people 'daily having their minds renewed by Christ' -- together with the fact that they're good and likeable people in their ways, that God is indeed working on them behind the scenes. As you know, I haven't quite sorted that out, myself!

 

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