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Lent Week 5 - March 21, 2021

Matthew 7I’m not sure if it’s an age and stage thing, or a permanent condition, but it’s not uncommon in our house to hear, “I know, Mom!” I might be reminding my child of a chore that’s not been completed for 3 days running, or homework that’s been required for a week, or dogs that are dancing around so someone will feed them. It might be a very gentle nudge or reminder and still, I hear, “I know, Mom!”

I promise I’m not trying to rag on my kid, but rather I’m trying to highlight an attitude I think is relevant to today’s passage. And I imagine most of us have had this kind of interaction with a child or a student. We get it. If we’re honest, we can likely remember dishing out our own level of

snark or sass to a parent or teacher in this way. I know mom. You don’t have to tell me, dad.

For weeks, we’ve been listening to the sermon on the mount and we’ve heard lots of good wisdom and lessons about how we can live more fully as disciples, and by doing so, give rise to God’s kin-dom here on earth.

Many of the scriptures have been familiar to us. We know them, at least in part. And, in some ways, as we revisit and hear them again it might be easy to reply “we know, Jesus!” We know these things; we’ve heard them before. You don’t have to tell us again.

And yet, for some odd reason, we do need them repeated. Maybe because there’s a real difference between knowing and doing. Knowing the dogs are hungry, or there’s homework left to do, or there are chores left undone is different than actually feeding the dogs, finishing the homework, and completing the chores. And there’s also a difference between knowing we shouldn’t judge or that our faith practices aren’t meant to be a show and actually living that out by not judging and doing our faith practices for us and not to be seen.

And ultimately Jesus is less concerned with what we know and far more concerned with what we do. So, at the end of his teaching in the sermon on the mount, he says, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise person who built their house on the rock.”

BUT….

“Everyone who hears these words and does NOT put them into practice is like a foolish person who builds their house on sand.”

In other words, Jesus wants us to live what he teaches. Who cares if we “know”?! If we don’t also do….?!

I hope after 5 years of ministry together you know just how human I am….so this probably won’t come as a surprise. When my unnamed child says, “I know Mom!” It’s hard not to reply, “Then why isn’t it done child?!” Right? I know I’m not the only one in this! If you know the thing has to be done, then it should just be done, shouldn’t it? It seems pretty obvious. At least when we’re pointing fingers at the other person.

But we know things too, don’t we? We know we aren’t supposed to judge. We know we’re not supposed to store up treasures on earth. We know we aren’t supposed to stress about what we will eat or what we will wear. We know we can’t serve two masters—both God and stuff. We know these things. But it doesn’t mean we’re living them well. We know Jesus tells us to fast, and pray, and give to those in need. But it doesn’t mean we’re consistent with it.

Jesus has a lot to teach us, both with the sermon on the mount and throughout the gospels. And sometimes, if we’ve been in the church awhile, or we’re tired, or disconnected, or simply feeling pretty good about ourselves and convinced we don’t really need God right now, it can be easy to think he doesn’t have anything new or terribly relevant for us. We might be tempted to reply, “I know, Jesus!” But if we’re honest, he could probably bite back with “well, then why aren’t you doing it, child?”

We have a lot to learn. And sometimes we’re negligent, even of the things we know need our attention. And so Jesus cautions us, along with the disciples, and the crowd that’s surrounding him. Hearing these things, knowing these things, but not living these things is not going to serve you well. There’s nothing lasting there. But if you hear them and actually live them. If knowing what needs to happen means you just make it happen, then you’ll be on solid ground…that will sustain you. So, do what Jesus tells us to do. Honor his teachings. Practice the disciples. You aren’t expected to do it perfectly, but you are expected to do it.

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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...

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