This update is from the February 7th meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.
All relationships have standards. These standards are either met and produce healthy relationships, or are abandoned, forgotten and produce chaos. When we enter into a relationship, there are things we inherently expect from the other person involved. When our expectations are met we feel fulfilled and satisfied, but when the person fails to meet our unspoken yet implied expectations we feel hurt and betrayed.
If we approach our relationships with people this way, why would our approach to God be any different?
While many people, after reading a chapter like Matthew 7, turn to God and demand an explanation for why His standards are so high, this response highlights the default of the human heart: to resist holiness as a result of sin and to find someone besides ourselves to blame. We are quick to blame God for creating impossibly high standards when the real question is, why are our standards so low? And why are we so intimidated by a challenge to be better than what we think we could ever be? Why are we so quick to write off holiness and so quick to welcome that which provides momentary satisfaction but ultimately destroys and weakens what was meant to be everlasting? Upon reading a commandment not to judge another person, why do we so quickly say, “I can’t do that. That’s impossible,” when, if we view chapter 7 through the lens of how we view our relationships with the people in our lives, we would be lying if we said that we would not impose the same standard on the people around us. We expect the people in our lives not to judge us, to answer us when we call, to bear fruit of love and peace and to be our solid foundation when our condition is less stable.
We are afraid of holiness because holiness wars against the sinfulness in all of us, and the grip of sin is strong. Sin deceives by convincing us all that although neglecting these impossible standards of God does seem to provide “freedom” and “joy,” the truth is that apart from God’s holiness as represented in Matthew 7, we are all harboring a faux sense of righteousness and goodness, that will neither satisfy nor last.
Jesus never hid anything from His disciples and through the Word remains as up front with us as he was with them. Jesus diagnoses our sinful hearts. Because he loves us, he tells us plainly that only by His power, only by following His holiness and making it our own, will we ever find the relationship with Him that will naturally extend into all of our worldly relationships, reproducing the shalom of creation and the kingdom of heaven here on earth.