If we are really honest with ourselves, every disciple of Jesus subscribes to a smorgasbord theology of holy Scripture. That is, we pick and choose what we like, and leave behind that which we don’t. Both sides, if there is such a thing, accuse the other of this all the time. The right says that the left chooses to ignore Scripture’s moral code. The left says the right forgets about the love stuff. The truth of the matter is that both are true. None of us is perfect, and so all of us fall short of the ideal of living out God’s will in every facet of our lives. This is playing out with blatant obviousness when one reads Jesus’ difficult words in Sunday’s third installment of the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.
Compare these words with what you see on your social media news feed and it quickly becomes clear that there has been a whole lot of murdering by anger and insult of late. This is not me be all judgey either. This is something of a confession of my own behavior, even as I see many of my sisters and brothers doing the same thing. There is something all together too safe and too easy about hurling insults on social media. Yet, if we were taking Jesus’ words seriously, we would take pause.
Is what I’m about to say true? Is it up-building? Is it judgmental or angry or insulting? Because if it is, I probably shouldn’t say it. Is it something that I would say to my brother or sister’s face? Because if it isn’t, I probably shouldn’t post it. Maybe we should all take a breath, re-read this section of Matthew 5, and slow down a bit. The world is already a pretty angry and hate-filled place, perhaps we shouldn’t add to it. These words from Jesus are difficult to swallow, and I’m sure we’d all rather leave them on the buffet, but the truth of the matter is that we don’t get to choose what we want to leave behind. The commandment to love is a call to moral impeccability. We can’t accomplish it on our own, but through Christ, perhaps we have a chance to stop being murders on social media.