Following Jesus and living hopefully in communities of faith remains the biggest challenge for Christian people today. In the next four weeks, we will look at how Matthew called his increasingly affluent house churches to return to the core values of Jesus' gospel.
Matthew says some hard things. He knows how difficult it is to live radically, for the sake of God's kingdom. But he also realizes that if you tell people things too straight they don't hear. So, he seeks to confront some hard truths the churches need to face by referring to the struggle of Jesus.
Few of us who have sought to be radical in our discipleship have escaped the tensions of conflict, disillusionment, weariness, betrayal, and division. In the weeks leading to Advent, we are invited to "reorder our household," and Matthew, who speaks a great deal about the "household of God," could not be better at helping us.
Be Great...Be A Servant
Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Abuse of power is one of the greatest temptations for Christian leaders. It is at the heart of more scandals in the church than anything else.
Matthew's churches faced this problem. There were leaders, teachers, and pastors who set themselves above others. Jesus reveals the pernicious misuse of power in his ongoing conflict with the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-7). Recounting this conflict, Matthew exposed the abuse in the churches he knew (23:8-11). Then he reminded people that in the household of God authority means "you have only one Master, and you are all brothers [and sisters!]" (23:8).