This is one of those texts that can make us cringe when we hear it. It seems so harsh and judgmental when it comes to divorce. I know in my own family the way this text has been used has left a lot of pain.
But here it is. Usually all we hear is the judgment and apparent shame in Jesus’ words. But I don’t believe Jesus intends this the way we too often hear it.
Rather than a judgment on divorce and divorced people, Jesus instead is impressing upon his disciples the power of relationships. Some Pharisees are testing Jesus with a trick question, and instead of being baited into a trap, Jesus turns it into an opportunity to put the Pharisees in their place and teach his disciples. Relationship matter. They are life-giving and ought not be taken for granted. The closer the relationship, the more power there is to give life. And more power to take life away. Ask anyone who’s ended a marriage–there is no fun way to do it. Because the relationship matters. The language Jesus uses is strong in order to make that point.
Jesus just finished telling his disciples to cut off their offending hands or feet and tear out their offending eyes. Obviously this isn’t to be taken literally, any more than this text is about remarrying and adultery. Of course that’s not actually the case and more than you should actually cut off parts of your body.
But he gets your attention with these over-the-top sayings like these, doesn’t he? Is there any doubt that Jesus takes close relationships like marriage seriously?
And immediately after impressing on his disciples the depth and power of a marriage relationship, Jesus teaches them that a relationship with children shows us what the kingdom of God is like.
Marriage is an even partnership, but a relationship with children is much more one-sided. Adults have the power and children don’t. In a relationship where one has more power and influence, you need even more care with these relationships. And again Jesus stresses the importance by saying only those who receive the kingdom like a child can enter it. Not literally, but it makes the point. Relationships matter. They are important. They sustain us and have the power to give life.
Lutheran Church of the Master is a community of relationships. Everything we value as church, e.g., love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, etc., is directly tied to the relationships we have with one another.
As Jesus makes evident, relationships matter. Without relationships there is no church. Without relationships built on love and compassion and care, there is no LCM.
I want to invite you to consider that you are investing i relationships here. All our ministries, our programs, our staffing, our goals are a result of the relationships we have as a community.
Investing in the ministries of LCM is investing in our relationships together as a congregation.
Let me share with you what that looks like…
Relationships matter. As you consider your giving for 2016, recognize that about two-thirds of your offerings go toward deepening our relationships together as a congregation. We are investing in each other.
Next week we’ll look at the other third, that which strengthens our relationships outside of the congregation.
Relationships matter, says Jesus. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.