Recently my house group decided to add a component to our discussions. Beyond discussing the prior Sunday’s sermon, we would also go through Matthew’s Gospel and personalize Jesus’ words to us: his promises, his commands…anything really that stood out to us. We’ve been working our way through Matthew 5 and I realized that beyond personalizing what Jesus says, I needed to paraphrase his words so that my soul “gets it” and can take them in more deeply. Below are a few of the things I’ve written in my journal from Matthew 5, from Jesus’ point of view.
Lisa, you are the salt of the earth. Be yourself! Season the world with your presence and you’ll season it with mine. If you can’t be your salty self, you’re not salt, not even a good salt substitute. You’re just dirt, only good for being walked on. Stay salty!
Lisa, you are the light of the world. It’s ridiculous to turn on a lamp and then stick it in a closet. Let your light shine in the world. Let the good things you do be out there and apparent to other people. Other people will see it, recognize it and give my Father the glory for it. Be light!
Lisa, the law still stands. There is still good and bad. I didn’t wipe the law out, instead I kept it perfectly (so you wouldn’t have to) and took all the punishment for breaking it (so you wouldn’t have to). That doesn’t mean you can do what you want–I want you to honor the law and the prophets, and then my Father will honor you in heaven. “Righteousness” is still important–just get it from me and not from your own smug self-satisfaction.
Lisa, if you are trying to get into worship and remember a quarrel with another person, go apologize, be reconciled and then offer your praise and thanksgiving.
Lisa, if looking at a man causes you to sin, poke your eye out. This rule also applies to the things around you that might cause you to lust, be prideful, greedy, be a glutton, be lazy, act with out of control anger or envy others. Unplug your cable, ditch unwholesome books, stop subscriptions to beautifully decorated house magazines or catalogs. After all, it’s better to have one eye and be in the kingdom of God than hand yourself over to your desires and burn in hell.
Lisa, don’t take oaths or swear by my name or any other name for that matter. A simple “yes” or “no” is all you need. Trying to make your own word permanent or eternal through swearing is trying to be like our Father! It’s a blatant temptation from the evil one.
Lisa, be meek and humble when faced with people who are openly hostile to you. If they slap you, don’t fight back: offer them the other cheek. If they try and sue you, settle with them generously. Go to lengths for them that are twice as far as they ask.
Lisa, give generously to those who ask for help. If someone wants to borrow something from you, give it to them.
Lisa, love your enemies and pray for people who make your life miserable. God loves them as much as he loves you. Loving those who love you is easy, but loving those who hate you is a mark of the heart of Father God.
Lisa, be perfect. I won’t stop at “fixing” your little problem you’re praying for–I want you to be completely and utterly changed so that when people look at you, then see me! I want you to be a holy and righteous woman. Cooperate with me in this transformation.