Dwelling on the Book of Matthew

Last week I shared some insights I had found in the Gospel of Matthew.  I intentionally wrote very broadly.  I suggested this gospel was a collection of ANCIENT words that could have some powerful insight for a MODERN church.  You may have read this as an essay that was reacting to a current event here at West Main. It was not meant to be read this way! It was written from a “proactive” stance. I was hoping that as we read Matthew together and interpreted it in our own individual stories, we could find ways that we could apply it in our communal story one day in the future, when tensions do arise. There are no specific and pressing issues of division today, but we would be naive to think they will not come! My article was penned in terms of generality, not specificity. 

Did you read Matthew? He surely challenged the church around him! In Chapter 9:14-17 we can clearly see one of Matthew’s purposes. Jesus contrasts the old with the new here. Just as new wine poured into old skins causes them to break open and be destroyed, the new spirit of the kingdom could not be contained within the old rituals of traditional Judaism. For Christianity to survive, Jesus was calling them to find renewal in Him, not in traditions! He called them to do this, even when it meant change.

But, Matthew was also concerned that the church not lose its heritage. We have taken very seriously the great commission given to us in 28:19. Yet today, we find ourselves in a different church, We are now almost 100% Gentile. Our issue today is whether we have fulfilled this intent to not totally divorce ourselves either from our Israelite heritage. Tradition did and does matter.  Therefore we are called to remember our ancestors as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob too. We are called to remember that the promises of the OT made to Israel are also God’s promises to us.  Jesus says that the teacher who is trained in the kingdom also discovers OLD treasures (13:52). 

We have a beautiful family here at West Main. It is life for many of us. I am eternally grateful to serve here. Yet, I know that in such a diverse body differences surely exist. We differ in how we live, how we read God’s word, and in what we desire.  Knowing this, I am grateful for the scriptural reminder of the need for growth in change as well as grounding in tradition.  Matthew speaks powerfully to me.  While we may be in a time of peace, this may not last forever. So, may we find comfort in the fact that God’s work will speak directly to us, even if such a challenge ever arises.