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The Table Connection – Week 4

9/21/2018

What Jesus Would Do

by Shannon Laning

Scripture Reading – Matthew 5:21-48 NASB

I feel like I am in a safe space here. We really get each other, and this is a judgment-free zone, right? Confession, I collected WWJD bracelets. Yep, the woven colorful bracelets popular in the late 90’s with the ever-pithy WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) soon became a fashion statement. It was the precursor to modern day LOLs and SMHs. In fact, I remember seeing Jonathon Taylor Thomas (swoon) wearing one on an episode of “Home Improvement,” and I was certain that our future as Christian husband and wife was set. Unfortunately, he stopped growing at 5’6” and just a touch short for my 5’11” frame. That’s a saga for another day.

The bracelet was to remind its wearer to approach life with that question in the forefront of his or her mind. It soon became just what I had turned it into, a fashion statement, and as with all fashion statements it fell out of popularity. But let’s revisit it for the sake of nostalgia and the fact that it is really a great question to ask yourself, even if you have a knee-jerk reaction to the abbreviation because you too are a child of the 90’s.

The message of Matthew 5:21-48 is best described in verse 48 which reads, “Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” To be honest, that is daunting and Jesus spends verses 21-48 giving a glimpse of what perfection actually looks like.  He starts off with a bang talking about murder. What atrocity seems greater than taking another person’s life? According to Jesus, hatred without cause is just as damning. And this is just the first in a plethora of examples depicting what the heart of the righteous actually looks like.This passage is loaded. From murder to adultery to divorce to loving the unlovable, Matthew 5:21-48 is convicting to say the least. As I have pondered this passage and combed through commentaries, it hit me that these are all matters of the heart. Every single scenario calls into question your heart’s motive. In a society that buries authenticity in order to display perfection, examining and being honest with your heart’s condition is scary. Because if I am being honest, and I think I should, my heart is wicked.

I feel like Paul who said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7:15) How can I change that to align more with Christ? I am sure the disciples were thinking the same thing as they sat at Jesus’ feet. I struggle to even begin to answer that because I know this… without Jesus righteousness it is impossible. He was showing us in Matthew 5 how to be like Him, and that comes from knowing Him. We cannot answer the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” if we don’t know what He did. So buckle up buttercup, it’s about to get even more real as dive further into Matthew. Be asking yourself: Who is Jesus? How can I be like Him? Why should that be important to me? Dear friend, be encouraged by this, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

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