December 7

Text: Matthew 5:14-16

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  (NASB)

Matthew saw Jesus as a man who taught people to follow God differently.  The reality: in Israel belonging to God was primarily based on a combination of ancestry, traditions, and external acts.  If one came from the correct ancestors, did the proper things, and did them in the correct ways, then that person belonged to God.  This emphasis and confidence is seen in Matthew 3:9; 12:1, 2; and 15:1, 2.

Jesus said two things.  (1) Following God is not dependent on who your past family was, but on who you areónot lineage but being light and salt.  (2)  It is more than what you know that makes people want to know God; it is what you are (for Godís interest in people who were not Jews, see 1 Kings 8:41-43).

While the tribal concept seems strange to most Americans, the tribal concept is the common, daily way of life for many people today.  What one is, what one is obligated to do, and how one lives life are determined by tribal connections, not individual desires.  Separating oneself from tribal connections was and is a major undertaking!

Jesus said it was not belonging to one of Israelís tribes that made you Godís follower.  Jesus substituted the concept of tribal connections with the concept of family connections (see Matthew 12:46-50).  Belonging to God was a matter of how you glorified God, not who your ancestors were.

To this day, spirituality is not a matter of where you came from but what you are.

Suggestion for reflection: Do you trust where you go and who you know or your relationship with Jesus?  Why?  (Read John 6:66-69.)

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