Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Matt. 5 -- Lawyers step in ...

when community fails.

An American who spent several years in China reported a bad case of reverse cultural shock upon returning to the States. "I'm lonely!" he exclaimed. In China, a high-context society, people paid attention to one another all the time. If it was time to move, a dozen neighbors showed up to help out, without even being asked.

The Chinese people take community seriously. If a young couple quarrel on a bus, all the passengers feel that their own peace is disturbed, and intervene in an attempt to make peace. They'll even conscript the obviously foreign blond guy for his advice!

In a fallen world, frictions and offenses are inevitable. That does not mean that such breakdowns in community are acceptable, or tolerable. Let's sit at the Master's feet again:
Mat 5:21 "Atalarımıza, 'Adam öldürmeyeceksin. Öldüren yargılanacak' dendiğini duydunuz.
Mat 5:22 Ama ben size diyorum ki, kardeşine öfkelenen herkes yargılanacaktır. Kim kardeşine aşağılayıcı bir söz söylerse, Yüksek Kurul'da* yargılanacaktır. Kim kardeşine ahmak derse, cehennem ateşini hak edecektir.
Mat 5:23, 24 Bu yüzden, sunakta adak sunarken kardeşinin sana karşı bir şikâyeti olduğunu anımsarsan, adağını orada, sunağın önünde bırak, git önce kardeşinle barış; sonra gelip adağını sun.
Mat 5:25 Senden davacı olanla daha yoldayken çabucak anlaş. Yoksa o seni yargıca, yargıç da gardiyana teslim edebilir; sonunda da hapse atılabilirsin.
Mat 5:26 Sana doğrusunu söyleyeyim, borcunun son kuruşunu ödemeden oradan asla çıkamazsın."
And, a few words:
  • Bu yüzden -- for this reason
  • sunakta adak sunarken -- upon the altar / a sacrifice / while you are offering
  • kardeşinin sana karşı -- your neighbor / to you / against
  • bir şikâyeti olduğunu anımsarsan -- an offense / there is / you happen to remember
In the "big picture" "scheme of things," (OK, so that's two consecutive American idioms!) disentangling our standing with God and our standing with our neighbor is an "exercise in futility." In one of his letters, Peter warns husbands that unresolved quarrels with their wives will hinder their prayers.

In this passage, though, İsa warns us that petty irritations can grow into major breaches. It is foolish to think that we can callously use our neighbor, then expect God to hear our prayers. Afte all, as Yuhanna and Yacup argued elsewhere, how can we claim to love the invisible God, if we despise our visible neighbor, who is made in the image of God?

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