Hogs and Dogs

The little parable of Jesus’ about the hogs and dogs, in Matthew 7:6, can be read as a context-less saying or a context-ual saying. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; do not throw your margaritas [Greek word for “pearls”] before the hogs.” But what might this saying mean? Which view below do [Read More…]

Sharp eyes, dulled awareness

Humans, Dale Allison observes, have an “inbred proclivity to mix ignorance of themselves with arrogance toward others.” Jesus spoke of this with the image of the “speck” and the “log.” Jesus intends to be funny and serious, to jab at the ribs and wound the heart all at the same time. And what Jesus sees [Read More…]

Are you judgmental?

Fewer texts have been used more than Matt 7:1: “do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Sometimes this text is used properly; other times it seems that Christian folks use the text to encourage all of us not to discern something good from bad, the beautiful from the ugly. The line is “I [Read More…]

Birdwatching Spirituality

What Jesus taught from watching birds has troubled me for some time. I wonder how you explain it. Before I say anything, let this question be asked because this is what troubles me: in what sense is it true that God provides for all those who trust in him by focusing on kingdom? What about [Read More…]

Master Mammon

It ought to be fairly easy to see that one cannot serve two masters, as Jesus states in Matthew 6:24. It ought to be, but it isn’t because the human worship-system contain an ever-ready capacity to steer off course. Parents find it hard to make good decisions on how much time to spend with children; [Read More…]

The Eye of Generosity

It is pretty easy for Christians to skip along reading “the eye is the lamp of the body” and not give one ounce of consideration to what is being said: How, we should be asking, can an eye be seen as a “lamp”? And, if an eye is good, how does that make the “body [Read More…]

Treasures: Here or There?

Jesus is both pragmatic and utopian in Matt 6:19-21. In a day when wealth and riches meant oppression of the poor and a day when poverty, if handled properly, meant piety, Jesus summons people to follow him who will trans-evaluate possessions. Possessions then and now were and are a source of pleasure and a focus [Read More…]

Hastening the Kingdom

Fasting at the time of Jesus had nothing to do with health, and everything to do with hastening the Kingdom of God by physically embodying one’s intense yearning for God to establish his will. Fasting also had to do with consecration for the High Holidays, like Yom Kippur. Overall, though, fasting is the physical expression [Read More…]

Short Prayers

Contextually, in the Sermon on the Mount the Lord’s Prayer illustrates “short prayer” in contrast to Gentile verbosity. In this sense, Matt 6:7-15 interrupts the flow of the principle established in 6:1: doing things to be seen by others shifts to manipulating God by long-windedness. And instead of hypocrites being the foil, we now have [Read More…]

Conspicuous Prayer

Matt 6:5-6 is the second example of the principle of “no footprints” found in 6:1. It concerns prayer and its central idea is simple and profound: let not our prayer lives be “conspicuous prayer.” We all know what “conspicuous consumerism” is: wear Nikes, wear Uggs, wear Tiger Wood golf hats … wear things that get [Read More…]