In the dark of load shedding I have a different experience of my time with the Lord – no electronic helps, songs, et cetera.
“I have invited you to spend time with me, which does not depend on any outside help. I am here I am your light, I light not only what you can see but into the depths of your heart. Look up and away and see My glory filling the sky– Glorious light, multiple colours, power and beauty pouring forth from Me. But I am not only out there I am in the depths of your soul – there is no place there that is dark enough to hide from me. I seek to bring you light and hope – my light is not a cold white light but I warm glow bringing you the warmth of my love. Yes I am here with you, just as I am with everyone of my children when they draw aside to focus on me and their relationship with and dependence on me”.
We move on to Ch 6 of Matthew. There is much teaching here, but I will lay out a framework to bring the different strands together.
The theme continues to be God’s Kingdom, as Jesus is interpreting it in the light of His coming connecting up with the Old Testament. (cf 6:10,33). Chapter 6 is about “practicing righteousness” (cf 6:1, 33), in other words the practical application of practicing ‘religion’ or we would say expressing our relationship with Jesus.
The opening section deals with the motive behind the religious practices. He condemns the open showy practice, instead repeats the need for secrecy, not desiring to be seen giving alms, praying, fasting etc. Now this almost seems a contradiction to 5:14 ff where He has said the people of the kingdom must be seen, demonstrating their relationship with Him. Underlying this then is the question, “What is our motive in our religious practice? Are we doing it to get attention for ourselves or focusing on His kingdom and His righteousness?”
So the underlying principle, which defines the people of the kingdom? It is buried in two places. Our lives and everything we do must be for His glory (6:9). Secondly we are to be single minded, focusing on Him and His righteousness. So in vs 21 He states the age-old conflict for all men (and women). The conflict of self. Self interest and self enrichment. When He says in v 22, “When your eyes are good,…..”, the Greek word for good could be better translated as “single”. Meaning focused on one thing somewhat like James warns us in James 1:6-8.
Running through this whole section is the thread of prayer which is the connection point between the citizens of the Kingdom and Jesus (or God). There is much there which each of you can unpack, from the warning not to babble a lot of words, to the reassurance that He already knows what we need and the beautifully laid out Lord’s prayer. Once again there is a warning that unforgiveness is a hinderance, a great hinderance to our prayers.
Then finally he deals with our relationship with our possessions, with the subtle and often repeated in this gospel, motivation to have faith, rather than fear. I read recently the suggestion that our fears are an indication of where we are trusting God the least.
And fasting? Well whether you actually fast or deny yourself in other ways, that is meant as a demonstration of the kingdom life which expresses itself in self-denial. Jesus says later in the gospel that if His disciples wished to follow Him the should take up their cross, daily.
So I must ask myself and maybe you should as well. “How is your practice of righteousness doing?”
How is your prayer-life? What are you focusing on? Why not keep a diary of how much time you spend on prayer for yourself and how much on other needs and kingdom issues.