Saturday, November 20, 2010
Four Gospels Seminary Course – Final Essay by Douglas Grant
Although I do not identify myself as a Christian, this course has given me much insight into the real message of Jesus, as a messenger of hope to a lost world.
I found what I feel to be a most cogent lesson on the proper actions of a Christian in the book of Matthew, chapter 18. This chapter deals most succinctly with the actions requisite to a follower of Christ to enter the Kingdom of Heaven – the actions of Fellowship.
Verses 1-4 present the Parable of the Child. The understanding I take form this is that only by being “like unto a child” can one enter, or even see, the Kingdom of Heaven . I believe that this means that only by having the delighted wonder, innocent trust and total acceptance of a child will Heaven reveal itself to us. Christ continues illustrating just how important this is with Verses 5-10 where he addresses what a terrible thing it is to lead astray one such as like unto that child. He also points out the hard discipline and self-control that is required to achieve that simple wisdom of a child. Verses 12-14 again reinforce this importance by tasking true followers to seek out “sheep” that are lost, and bring them back to the fold. It is only by maintaining a community that it can thereby sustain us through the trials and travails that we face.
Verses 15-17 present the foundation of a community, that of respect. There is no respect to be had in publicly airing a private dispute. But, to ensure the community is not damaged by such an issue, it should be privately witnessed, so that those can report to the community at large on the conduct and possible resolution of the issue. If the individuals cannot resolve the issue, it becomes the community’s responsibility to address such. If the individual will not accept the decision of the community, the best course for the survival of the whole unit is to withdraw itself from the individual. This may sound harsh, but to allow a poison to remain within a system is a danger to all. Additionally, it will teach the person the importance of community in developing meaning and fulfillment to life.
Verse 18 is the most succinct description of Heaven possible – Heaven is what you make it. Verses 19-20 describe the requirements for the manifestation of Christ – when the requirements of fellowship are present, and fellows meet, Christ appears, for all is Heaven.
Verses 21-35 presents the duty of forgiveness to one we call ‘brother’. It also encourages us to offer forgiveness to those that plead for it. Although forgiveness is good, if it is merely for selfish ends, we must show how hard the discipline of forgiveness is, by presenting the cost of failing to forgive.
Although I feel this chapter is worthy of much further and detailed discussion, this forum is not quite the most appropriate place for this. It is only through deep introspection and personal meditation that the wisdom Christ presents here can be fully understood. In hope and Faith, Be well.
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