Sunday we're going to be kicking off a sermon series on The Sermon on the Mount: "... but I say unto you ..." This, perhaps the most quotable sermon Jesus gives what John Wesley called, 'The sum of true religion.'
It's Jesus at his most systematic.
It's Jesus at his most clear.
It's Jesus at, perhaps, his most challenging.
He tells us, in The Gospel of Matthew 5-7 what a follower of Jesus looks like. Followers of Jesus go the extra mile. "You have heard it said ... but I say unto you..."
Yet, the passage that I've been given to preach from, Matthew 5:21-26, is not one that I've heard from a lot in Christian worship or in Christian culture.
Perhaps it's because the church that I've grown up in loves it some anger.
Perhaps it's because the church that I've grown up in has no chill.
Perhaps it's because the church I've grown up in justifies it's anger as righteous and doesn't know who it is if it doesn't know who its excluding.
Jesus is saying, here, that a follower of Jesus desires reconciliation with fellow humans above all things. It could be an impossible task. We'd rather parse through the language here and ask, "Who is my brother? Who is my sister?" We'd rather fill in that blank with people like 'us', people that Christian like 'us', people that live like 'us.'
This is the way of the world, though, not the Kingdom of God that Jesus ushers us into.
He says, "Blessed are the peacemakers."
He's not saying this to a few people that are gifted at peace-making. He's saying that's what a follower of Jesus does.
In a no -chill world, the hardest thing we can do is be less angry. Jesus calls us to find our chill and he's got plenty to spare, along with abundant grace to cover our mistakes.
But, hey, what if there actually are consequences to Christian anger? Not just in this life, but in our very relationship with our Creator?
We better be taking some deep breaths these days. It's a no-chill world and it needs for us to be more like Jesus would have us be.