Today we wrap up this week's theme: Hard Sayings of Jesus.
We saw all of these sayings make sense when viewed with respect to profitability...God's metric for reward and salvation (remember these two are completely separate).
However, these sayings are initially tough to understand and look contradictory because we believe God values APPEARANCE. This may even make some people so uncomfortable they will try to change the meaning and/or words in the Bible to fit their perspective...to make a good APPEARANCE. When this happens it is proof we are following tradition in place of the Word of God.
Recently, a pastor stated publicly, "The Bible and God would never tell anyone to harm their own children."
This makes a good APPEARANCE of the Bible...however Genesis 22:1-2 says:
"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."
What was the result of God telling Abraham to offer Isaac for a burnt offering?
"And the angel of the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice." (Genesis 22:15-18)
Profitability was the result! Notice, God's focus was focused on if Abraham was willing to offer everything to God...and his son was the proof. This story also points us towards Jesus...because God DID offer up His Son unto death. So there are TWO incidents...
Remember, this as we look at today's topic: community. Jesus' words and intent are consistent with the Old Testament AND what was going to happen in His life.
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)
The objective and metric is profitability. Overall profitability is MORE important to God than one member...IF that member makes the whole body unprofitable.
Notice, having a part that makes the WHOLE body unprofitable is different than valuing uniqueness. Paul recognizes some parts have more need (are less profitable), but these parts are not making the whole body unprofitable:
“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” (I Corinthians 12:14-26)
Paul is saying the PURPOSE of the BODY is to make everyone MORE profitable than they could be by themselves. Paul celebrates uniqueness when he rhetorically asks if the whole body was the same part how would the body be able to be profitable.
The non-contradictory definition of "community" is "three or more people who can accomplish something more than they could separately".
The "something" determines the type of community. If the "something" is serving coffee...then the "community" is a coffeehouse.
Church is a type of community. Notice, there are churches that exist who are trying to create community. They have it backwards! They are a community and the "something" determines if they are a church and/or what type of church they are.
Yesterday, we looked at Matthew 18 from the beginning of the chapter up to the verses about dealing with a brother who won't hear...a member of the church that is unprofitable. You may want to read the rest of the chapter. In fact, there are three more verses that complete Jesus' answer to the question posed in verse 1. What is the last verse of Jesus' answer? What is His conclusion?
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)
Jesus will make up the third or fourth person when at least TWO are gathered in His name. Jesus will make it a community. Jesus will make it profitable. Jesus will make it CHURCH. Jesus explains the process to stop the church from being unprofitable...then He assures us He will do His part to make church profitable! He is PERFECT. This is an objective statement that can be PROVEN...there is NO way to be more profitable than what Jesus stated.
(Defining the "something" that results in church will have to wait until another time. However, if you have some time think to yourself what that "something" OUGHT to be that defines a community type as "church". Also, ask people who use the word "community" to define it...you may be shocked at the lack of answers you will get.)
Taking the two passages together, we see that there are three levels of profitability:
-Profitable is when a member creates more through exchanging value through its uniqueness with other members through their uniqueness.
-Need is when a member can't survive unless he or she creates more through exchanging value through its uniqueness with other members through their uniqueness.
-Unprofitable is when a member consumes more than they produce and is unable to create with others enough to exceed what they consume...eventually making the entire body unprofitable.
Yesterday, we saw how Jesus taught a process for dealing with an unprofitable member of the body. The process had a maximum of three steps with the last step being removing the member from the body. Taking everything we have looked it, this process is focused on DETERMINING if the member is profitable, in need, or unprofitable. The PROOF they are unprofitable is that they won't hear...they won't interact...they won't exchange. There is NO WAY to be profitable without an exchange according to uniqueness.
Now let's look at some hard sayings that have to do with Jesus determining who HE has community with.
“And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35)
Jesus is saying that His community isn't driven by APPEARANCE or tradition...it is driven by who is DOING the Will of God...who is profitable.
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
We covered this in the effects of love post...hate means "to love less". Anyone loving ANYONE else MORE than God cannot follow Jesus. This is the same mentality God had with Abraham over Isaac. Notice, this verse mentioned "wife". This explanation softens the APPEARANCE of this saying. Would Jesus REALLY say ANYTHING that would come between a husband and a wife? Actually, Jesus had a really HARD saying concerning wife and kids. It is Luke 18:29,30.
“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake,..."
What is the rest of the verse? Taking everything you have learned about LEADERSHIP and Jesus, what is the rest of this statement? What will it be focused on?
"...Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time,..."
Jesus offered a value! He is focused on profitability! In fact, Jesus says "manifold more". It sounds like it is A LOT more profitable. Notice Jesus is using quantitative language (manifold, more). Leaving something for the kingdom of God's sake results in a value...in this case a Reward.
But wait...there's MORE!
"...and in the world to come life everlasting.”
Jesus offers ANOTHER value! This time it is Salvation! Reward AND Salvation for leaving your wife and kids for the kingdom of God's sake!
Obviously, the ONLY way someone would do this is if God told them (GRACE)...and the PROOF that it was God would be profitability.
Most pastors and teachers don't teach these hard sayings of the Bible because they are afraid people will do them for the wrong reason. The way to make sure people don't do it for the wrong reason is to explain OBJECTIVELY what the RIGHT reason is...to be able to give a reason and a value that is non-contradictory. To be able to explain how God's objective measure (profitability).
However, it is better for these pastors and teachers NOT to teach the WHOLE Bible if they don't understand what they are talking about...if they don't have answers.
Jesus (and the Bible) have A LOT of HARD passages that appear contradictory. Most pastors and teachers won't teach on these verses...let alone mention them. And most that DO teach on these change the meaning or water down the impact. Their focus is on APPEARANCE...TRADITION...IS.
However, these passages are in the Bible to point us towards God's metric: PROFITABILITY. The ONLY way to interpret these passages in a non-contradictory manner is to view them from the perspective of profitability.
Bonus Jesus Saying: Tradition has defined "grace" (charis) as "unmerited favor". The Greek word for "unmerited favor" is not "charis". Charis is "the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life". One of my favorite passages for a preacher or teacher to explain is when JESUS says to Paul "My Grace is Sufficient". The ONLY way to explain the ENTIRE situation in a non-contradictory manner is to view it from profitability...from Reward. The ONLY way pastors and teachers can explain it with "unmerited favor" is to omit key portions of the situation. Click the link and see for yourself.
The choice is yours: tradition or the Word of God.