Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Standard of Christ

Repeat and or meditate on this verse until your thoughts are centered on God.
All people dwelling on the earth
in awe thy signs shall see.
Morning and evening with great mirth
they'll sing praise unto thee.
 —Psalm 65:8
Suggested tune: McKee (CM)

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.
—Luke 18:25
With this minute and rigid enforcement of the words of Scripture in passages where the ideas expressed in them either really or apparently agree with received opinions or institutions, there remains to be contrasted the neglect, or in some instances the misinterpretation of other words which are not equally in harmony with the spirit of the age. In many of our Lord’s discourses he speaks of the ‘blessedness of poverty’; of the hardness which they that have riches will experience ‘in attaining eternal life’. ‘It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye,’ etc.

Precepts like these do not appeal to our own experience of life; they are unlike anything that we see around us at the present day, even among good people; to some among us they will recall the remarkable saying of Lessing—‘that the Christian religion had been tried for eighteen centuries; the religion of Christ remained to be tried.’ To take them literally would be injurious to ourselves and to society (at least, so we think). Religious sects or orders who have seized this aspect of Christianity have come to no good, and have often ended in extravagance. It will not do to go into the world saying, ‘Woe unto you who are rich,’ or on entering a noble mansion to repeat the denunciations of the prophet about ‘cedar and vermilion.’ Times have altered, we say, since these denunciations were uttered; and what appeared to the prophet or apostle a violation of the appointment of Providence has now become a part of it.

It will not do to make a great supper, and mingle at the same board the two ends of society, as modern phraseology calls them, fetching in ‘the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind,’ to fill the vacant places of noble guests. That would be eccentric in modern times, and even hurtful. Neither is it suitable for us to wash one another’s feet, or to perform any other menial office, just because our Lord set us the example. The customs of society do not admit it; no good would be done by it.

Well, then, are the precepts of Christ not to be obeyed? Even if, in their fullest sense, they cannot be obeyed, they should not at any rate be explained away. The standard of Christ is not to be lowered to ordinary Christian life, because ordinary Christian life cannot rise, even in the best of humanity, to the standard of Christ.
—Benjamin Jowett (alt)
Help me, God, to embrace the poverty of my own nature, that I may be raised to the riches of the nature of your Son...
Allow the above to help guide your own confession, praise, thanksgiving, and/or petition.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
 —Matthew 6:9-13

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