Matthew Commentary 03

The funny thing about reading spiritual works such as the Bible, is that you interpret different meanings and see different significances at different times.

One of the most remarkable things that Jesus said was that people should not only not-seek-vengeance for wrongs committed against them, but they should help the transgressor transgress even more! In other words, if you’re slapped on one cheek, provide your other cheek for ease-of-slapping as well. If someone demands your shirt, well give him your coat too. The first time I read that, I thought wow, this guy really must be of a godly nature, that’s some next-level forgiveness right there. He then goes on to say I should not only help these people, but I should LOVE them!? What!?

I thought his standards were impossibly high at this point. I thought I could never reach that level of zen. I figured Christianity wasn’t for me since I just couldn’t maintain that level of committed selflessness. It didn’t help that I believed the world to be a dark place filled with cutthroats wanting nothing more than to lie, cheat, and steal. I’d be left with nothing, I’d be taken advantage of to no end! When reading Matthew, I’d often just stick to the Sermon on the Mount part and ignore the miracle-related magic-stuff — “that’s just old-timey nonsense that’s not relevant today”, I’d think, “just give me the humanistic stuff and leave out the spiritual mumbo-jumbo”.

Well, can you really separate the two? From a physical-world perspective, it kind of makes sense to put up barriers and defend what you have. Yet from a spiritual-world perspective, there’s literally nothing to defend — what we’re experiencing is more dreamlike than actuality. If you want the shirt I’m wearing, sure, it’s not mine to begin with, I didn’t make it, God did and He can simply provide another — here, might as well take my coat as I didn’t make that either. And it turns out, people aren’t waiting in line to slap me — but if they did, sure go-ahead bro, I’ve got two cheeks ya know! It’s not my body, I’m just borrowing it for the time being.

So from a spiritual perspective, I can see how much easier it is to follow the teachings of Jesus. Trying to fit infinite love, selflessness, and unyielding forgiveness within a physical framework is an uphill battle. “I have to survive and earn my way through this world, everything I obtain belongs to me, and I work hard for it.” But to see the world as God’s creation, and myself as an invited guest provided everything I require upon entering, then I’m not entitled to anything, I’m just a guest same as the next guy — I don’t own this seat I’m sitting on nor anything else for that matter, it’s all God’s stuff.

From a spiritual perspective, I’m off the hook, God provides for me — end of story. Anything I wish, I need faith but the size of a mustard seed for it to manifest. How can you not love such a giving host? And being that everything is a creation of this host, how can you not love thy fellow guests? When I interact with others, I’m interacting with God’s creations — therefore, the way in which I treat others is the way in which I treat God himself, so how could I be anything but patient and respectful? And as Jesus said, love for God and neighbor are the great commandments upon which all others depend.

Sure you can try to live a life sans-spirituality — but why, when it’s so much easier the other way? That’s why Jesus seemed to be so frustrated by the end, when he was rebuking that entire generation for their faithlessness. If they’d only believe in the goodness of life, everything would work out, people would experience fulfillment, they’d be without illness, and everyone would get along. But no, the people refused to cooperate, obstinate in their pessimism and dislike for each other. So devoted they were to the physical life, that they murdered the guy for simply offering a better way.

It’s like his dad threw this great party called Earth and there were all these special activities planned for everyone’s amusement — but people started wandering off doing their own thing, smokin’ in the bathroom, pourin’ whiskey in the punch, kickin’ over potted plants, vandalizin’ the house, startin’ fights — and Jesus is trying to tell everyone to chill out, that his dad went to a lot of trouble for them, and they’ll have a much better time if they behave respectfully and get along. Well the crowd wasn’t havin’ it, they dumped a bowl of dip all over his head and threw that Poindexter in the pool.

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