Pastor Beau of Emmaus Road Church (facebook) drove home the words of Jesus today in regards to “Reconciliation Before Worship”.
He opened up the Sunday morning message with this question, “When was the last time you were angry and why?” The church family shared some humorous stories. We laughed. And then Pastor Beau quoted Yoda: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. . . . Fear is the path to the dark side.” But then things became real serious, real fast as Pastor Beau delved into Genesis 4:1-10, followed by the 6th commandment in Deuteronomy 5, a reiteration of the 10 words of Torah, and then Beau jumped into Jesus’ direct words in Matthew. His harsh words.
Beau pressed upon the church family three points from the text: (1) Jesus’ Messianic Interpretation of “You Shall Not Murder”, (2) Reconciliation Before Worship, and (3) The Danger of not Reconciling.
- As Jesus references the Torah from the Hebrew Bible, he is attacking an incomplete interpretation of what was originally written. And who better can explain what is written than the original author, the King? Jesus explains how we murder. Calling your neighbor a “moron” is to steal his name, rip away his reputation, and to attack the very value and dignity of how God has made him in His image.
- Imagine worshipers travelling from Galilee to Jerusalem in order to offer their sacrifices in worship to Yahweh. They walk all that distance. They finally make it to the Temple in the capital city. They are in line to offer their sacrifices, but then they begin to think of ruptures in some of their own relationships. Jesus says, “Leave your gift at the altar. Go back home. Make peace and then come worship me.”
- We are to mend friendships quickly. We need to reconcile now before it becomes an impossibility later.
My questions related to the ESV text . . .
Observation (questions for the head)
- What did Jesus say that you have heard of old (v. 21)?
- Because of anger, you can be liable for three things. List them (v. 22).
- If your brother has something against you, what are you to do (v. 24)?
- What might your accuser do to you (v. 25)?
- You will never get out of prison till what happens (v. 26)?
Interpretation (questions for the head and heart)
- Aristotle once wrote, “He that is angry for what he ought, and moreover as he ought, and when and as long as he ought, is commended.” Is it ever ok to be angry with your brother (v. 22)?
- When does anger become sinful?
- What is the Greek expression for “insults” (v. 22)?
- What does it mean to call someone a “fool” (v. 22)?
- How is Gehenna (hell) associated with fire? Gehenna is connected to the Valley of Hinnom. What was this place in Israel?
- What is a gift for the altar? Where is the altar?
- How do you explain reconciliation?
- Why must there be horizontal relationship before there is vertical worship?
- How can one pay his debt when in prison?
Application (questions for the heart and hands)
- In the Peanuts comic strip, Lucy would shout at Charlie Brown, “You Blockhead!” Have you ever been tempted to bully someone else in the same way? Have you ever been called derogatory names? How did you feel?
- I don’t remember all the bullying that I did to my younger sisters when we were kids growing up. But one of my sisters has reminded me in detail of some of the things I did. There could be several responses given back: (1) “I didn’t do that!” (2) “That’s exaggerated!” Or (3) “I apologize sister. That was not love. Please forgive me.” We all know that answer #3 is the path of family reconciliation. Do you have a story of family forgiveness to share?
- Some of our deepest wounds are received in churches. Have you ever experienced a church split? As a result, do you have past Christian friends who are now not talking to you?
- What is the process for solving church conflict? One of the best books that I have read on the biblical process for dealing with conflict is The Peacemaker by Ken Sande. Peacemaker Ministries is an excellent nonprofit located here in the Northwest for specifically dealing with Christian conflict and hurt.
- Would you like to give praise to God and share a story of reconciliation involving courage, humility, and love?
- If we brought all the local churches together for worship at a park on the river, do you think there would need to be reconciliation before worship?
- Do you think we should be willing to be reconciled only if we are approached by the one who has hurt us or should we initiate reconciliation?
- How did God help you in your being angry toward a family member or friend?