knuckle cracking smackdown (part three)

So there I was in a room full of divorced Christians looking at the pastor and the pastor was looking at me with only Matthew 5:32 to divide us.  I braced myself.  I realized I was trying not to cry.  What happened next surprised me.  He said, “Well if I was at Alpha I’d say that that was a very good question D.  Does anyone at the table have any ideas?”.  He was being funny!  I laughed.   I didn’t expect that.  What he said next surprised me more.

“We in the church haven’t done a very good job at dealing with divorce.  We came from a place where divorce was wrong and you didn’t want to be seen to condone it. We haven’t bridged the gap  from rejecting it to helping those who are going through it and we end up just being uncomfortable.  I know for you D. that the church kind of let you down.”  I couldn’t move.  What I hadn’t mentioned in my other two posts was that this Divorce Care class was happening at my old church, the place I’d left because I felt unwanted. Inside I shifted. I started to materialize and not feel so condemned to be a ghost. I waited to hear what was next.

He said (paraphrase),”In this part in Matthew Jesus is talking to the Pharisees.  One of the practices of the time was that if your wife so much as burnt your toast you could divorce her and move on to the next one.  Some of these religious leaders had had as many as 15 wives.  These women were put through the mill of having to be married off to yet another man.  Jesus was pointing out the hollowness of these “godly” men.  He was really defending the women and saying that what was being done to them was using them, discarding them and handing them over to be used by someone else and that this was foul in God’s eyes.  They may have technically felt absolved but at the heart of it was sin.”

Lightbulb moment!  I realized it was in line with Matthew 5:21,22

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.”

I knew that I wasn’t one day going to be entering the Heavenly Gates and get a, “Whoa there girl.  It looks like your record here shows your heart wanted to issue 34 smackdowns on knuckle crackers and gum snappers, 213 on loud cell talkers, line budgers, ooh and a definite smiting on people with rude hand signals.  We have us a mass murderer. See you and stay warm.”

I realized that like so much of what Jesus was trying to drum into the thick skulls of the Pharisees (and us)  was the attitude of the heart rather than the letter of the law is what matters. 1 Chronicles 28:9 ” … for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.”

Proverbs 20:27, Romans 8:27, Rev. 2:23.

This made sense. This was the love of Jesus and the heart of my Father.

I know that not everyone will know the context of this verse and so some will make their judgements.  While I don’t like it I can live with being loved and cared for by God.  I was so grateful for the words the pastor shared, personal and scriptural.  I have a peace with Matthew 5:32 and I’m grateful that Jesus stood up for those women and stood up for the truth and I’d like to think that maybe one or two of the men hearing him gave a thought to what they were doing, just as all of us, men and women, need to consider what we do today.

Thanks for letting me share my story.

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