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Friday, June 05, 2009

Trinity Sunday: Righteousness and Jesus


"Promise me you won't tell Dad?" I would ask plaintively to my mom when I did something wrong. Why? Because she was the "softy" in the family. If we could get Mom to advocate for us, whatever punishment would be softened. As a senior pastor for many years, I have seen the same thing in the church and among the staff. Members approach different staff persons for different things, sometimes getting access to me over a previous decision. Psychologists call it "triangulation" pitting one side against another on behalf of a third party.
The Trinity will not be triangulated. Jesus is not the good guy taking the heat for us from the angry and unapproachable father. The Holy Spirit is not the freewheeling force that lets us do whatever we want to make us feel good. They work together to accomplish one thing...righteousness.
The text for Sunday (not assigned, but part of our summer series) is Matthew 5:17-20 where Jesus answers his accusers' complain that he is "abolishing the Law" by his behavior. They see Jesus as acting contrary to the righteous character of God from the Law and the Prophets. Jesus answers them that he is not annulling the Law, but instead, fulfilling it (a favorite word of Matthew). Jesus becomes, on the Mount of Beatitudes, the "new Moses" for God's people, freshly interpreting the righteous demands of the Law.
The parallels for us today is that while we do not have Pharisees and Scribes who orally interpret the Law into a "Mishnah." We do have our own types of "mishnahs" that filter our behavior and views on everything from illegal/undocumented aliens to environmental issues to health care to abortion. We consistently line up with those who support and validate our views and don't listen to those who see life with a different lens. The question is this: does my lens line up with Jesus' lens? It's the only lens that really matters.

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