Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:43-6:34
My oldest two darlings are already taller than I am, and, in all likelihood, the youngest two will soon be able to say the same. It’s weird to have them not just look me in the eye, but actually look down on me—especially when I can’t (and don’t want) to erase the memory of their chubby little faces gazing up at me and saying, “Momma, up!”
During the stage when they were closer to the ground this was one of their most frequent requests. “Momma, up.” They wanted me to lift them up so they could get at things which were beyond their reach.
Lift me higher so I can reach the shelf where you keep the crackers. Lift me higher so I can put my fingers in the fish tank. Lift me higher so I can turn the ceiling fan off and on. Endlessly.
Without me, what they wanted, and sometimes needed, was out of reach. They needed me to take them in my arms and lift them up to make what was beyond them, accessible.
We saw in our reading yesterday that the standard Jesus held up to enter into kingdom life was hard. Today’s passage doesn’t lower the entrance bar. In fact, at one point, Jesus says, ‘You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48)
Okay, what?! PERFECT?!
Jesus says that no part of the law will be done away with—it’ll all be accomplished down to the last dot. You think murder is bad, Jesus says? I think anger is bad! You set adultery as the bar, I say don’t even think impure thoughts. You’re trying to figure out how far you can bend your words and get away with it. My answer? Not at all. You feel good about loving those who love you back? I’ll ask you to love and pray for people who deliberately want to hurt you.
What do we do with this impossible entrance standard?
We turn to Jesus and say, “Lift me up.”
We can’t do it. But Jesus knows what we need before we ask and what we need most is for Him to meet the impossible standard for us.
He wants us to turn to Him and admit that He’s what we need most. He wants to grow our affections to become the One who we want the most. He wants to still our fears until He’s the One who we trust the most.
Jesus knows that entrance into His kingdom is impossible for us. He doesn’t respond by lowering the bar to let us in. Instead, He knows that what we need most is for Him to lift us up into the arms He stretched out wide on the cross.
Your Heavenly Father knows what you need. Seek Him and His kingdom first.
He’ll take care of the rest. You don’t need to worry.
Your Heavenly Father knows what you need. Seek Him and His kingdom first. He’ll take care of the rest. You don’t need to worry.