My Life as a Mennonite

When I was young, I can’t say how old, really, I found a door. This door was at street level without a porch or anything. It went in to a Mennonite church. I began to go to this church. My parents did not question me on this. I remember that on your birthday, you would put pennies into a pail as a donation and the other children would count off your age as they clinked in.

I was told that I had won a prize one Sunday. This was a weekend trip to a farm, a Mennonite farm. I didn’t know that Mennonites were well known for being farmers. I had a small leather suitcase and was dropped off by my parents at this farm some distance from the city.

I was a city boy though and through. I had never been to a farm. There were a number of children who welcomed me. I remember they offered me a drawer to put my things in. I kept them in my suitcase under the bed because I thought if I became too connected here, I would become part of this farm.

The kids were all barefoot as they showed me the animals and how they fed them. I did not join in this barefootedness. I was not having a bad time but I began to think that I would never leave. I would be forgotten by my family and become a Mennonite farm child. My parents would give me up and let me become a Mennonite. I was not in despair but thought that my parents might even forget how to get to this farm having been only once.

I sat on the porch with my suitcase at the appropriate time to be picked up. I never voiced my concern of being abandoned. I did imagine myself, a bit sadly, going back into the farmhouse to join in the dinner. What would life be like? Did they go to school out here?

My parents did arrive and I bid the family goodbye, thanking them. I was silent during the ride home. It was so funny that my parents never questioned me about attending this church. The Mennonites were trustworthy in their eyes. I felt I had escaped a new lifestyle which was foreign to me.

I have never warmed up to farms and have always kept an eye on our car whenever we went to visit an obscure aunt who lived on a farm. Animals should only be in a zoo, I felt. I don’t think I ever wondered where food came from.

Later, as a teen, my dad took me to a turkey farm. He had ordered a fresh turkey and while he was inside, I examined the turkey farm through the fence. What a hellscape, I thought. Hundreds of turkeys wandering around not knowing that Thanksgiving was looming closer and closer.

I have always felt that a farm should only be viewed from a speeding car as you past it.

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Explain God to Me

It seems the longer you know God, the less able you are to explain him. John wants us to be sure of three things about Jesus: That he existed since the beginning. He is co-equal with God. That he was a real flesh and blood human being. That’s clear enough. Much later, he says “God is Light”. This is not that helpful since we hardly know what light is.

What is Light?

When John writes about our behavior, he is much clearer. But just as we are beginning to understand that our faith in God must result in better behavior, he hits us with “God is Love.” John proves that the more we know God, the less able we are to explain him. The reason is that God is unknowable. But that does mean we can’t know him. Huh? Imagine yourself standing knee deep in the Pacific Ocean. You are in the ocean. You are off the shore. But what do you know of the ocean? You know something. Can you know more?

But God being unknowable is no reason not to pursue him. Paul says, we know in part. Wouldn’t Paul know God pretty well? Yet, he writes of a strange limitation. We see in a mirror, darkly. A mirror? What do we see in a mirror? Ourselves. Is he saying that we are limited by ourselves as humans in knowing God? Darkly? And we do not even see ourselves clearly.

Does anyone explain heaven? Why not? Jesus says he came from there and that he was going back. I’m not sure why we would want to go there when we have no idea what it is like. It’s good. I’m sure it is good. God’s will is done there unlike here on earth. But can we pray “thy will be done” and not do it?

How can we do the will of God? Do we even want to? Why would we? There is only one motivation according to Jesus. “If you love me, do as I have told you”. This is an echo of the first commandment to love God with all. But it is now personalized by Jesus. “If you love me…”

What did Jesus make a particular point of? “A new commandment, I give you…” A new one? Love God. Love our neighbor. Doesn’t that cover it? “Love one another as I have loved you.” Once again, it is personalized. “…as I have loved you.”

How much does Jesus love you? People tell us that Jesus loves us. There are signs with it written. I’m not going to answer it for you because it’s too personal. I have to answer it for me. Then I have to love him that first loved us. Have to? If I don’t, I can’t begin. Unless I am reacting to his love for me, I can’t begin.

How does all this relate to our title” “Explain God”? Jesus said his life explained God. “If you have seen me, you have seen The Father.” Jesus explained God for three years, by living. He said, “You believe in God. Believe, also, in me.” Such a simple statement. Yet, it also says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be rescued.” Believing becomes loving. Loving leads us to do what he said. Doing what Jesus said changes us. Not just a little. A lot.

Take My Yoke

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Your Destiny

What is your final destiny? Have you thought of this? Let’s start slow. What if you lived a thousand years? Leave out aging. What would you be like in 900 years.

Would you be disillusioned? Would you be bored? Let’s say money was available to you to do as you pleased. Really think about it, not just, “Oh, I would happy.”

A friend told me he wanted to be rich. I asked why. “So I could do so much good.” He was serious.

You know people were meant to keep living. Why don’t they? Let’s take the worst example: a evil dictator continues to live. He gains more power as he goes along. He does not die of ‘natural causes’. He eludes those who want him dead. His control grows and he wants more. He takes over another country. Then another. Yes, it’s been done before but what if he just keeps living? All those who have done this have eventually died.

Take another example: a person has ‘done it all’. He has made money. He has invented things. He has travelled the world. He has hob-knobbed with the rich and famous. He has lived in obscurity, off the grid for 100 years. He has built things. He owns an island with access to everything now.

In his power, he has lost track of good and evil. Why? He tried to do good and found it surprisingly difficult. His good intentions went wrong somehow. He tried over and over. Giving money went to greedy people not those he intended to help. He started a charity but found he had to watch everything closely so that people were really helped in material ways. But he concluded that treating people good does not make them good. He had to be satisfied with ungratefulness. He began another agency that helped people without them knowing it. He lived hundreds of years, remember. He thought that if they were ungrateful, at least they didn’t know who they were ungrateful to.

He was completely disillusioned with people finally. He became disillusioned with himself. Why aren’t I wise? I’ve lived hundreds of years! I’ve done good but have not become good. I don’t care about anything anymore. He despaired of life. He contemplated suicide.

Is this fiction? Yes, but the end of life can easily be despair.

Why? Because although we can do good, we cannot become good. Someone knew this from the beginning. The creator has limited life to about 120 years these days. It used to be longer. That was thousands of years ago.

You and I get so many years to discover the meaning of life. You know, when Jesus was here, some guys said, ‘Why don’t you do something unmistakable that would prove your claim to be the one sent from God?’ I don’t know, put a message on the moon that would appear in the language of the reader, or something. But he refused to give an unmistakable sign.

Why not? Why would he heal people one at a time. Why didn’t he travel around the world? Why remain in a small country? If we were his press agents, we would have such ideas.

He made a constant point of what was required of people, faith. Not general faith, but specific faith in God. You know, the very thing that keeps us from God is what leads us to despair in the end. Our focus on ourself. And if we dig deep into our self, we find no answer to the meaning of life.

It is because the answer is external to us. Our disconnect with God will guarentee us becoming a completely distorted version of human in the end. I could try and scare you with possible outcomes but I won’t.

Human life. Consciousness. Self-awareness. They hold opportunity but not answers. Certainly not the answer.

I’m reading a book where a robot/human hybrid looks for her creator to fix her up. She eventually finds him and he does fix her broken parts and adjusts her cyborg/human mind to her desired state. That state is without any human feeling. She kills her creator and burns down his lab used to create others like her. Her human feelings were holding her back in the story.

She wants no humanity and no siblings. She wants to kill with no remorse. It was messing up her plans. How terrible, we might say. But we will arrive at a similar state but worse. We will become unable to do evil.

This outcome is planned for the devil. The devil and all evil doers of the angelic sort will be incapacitated in the end. They cannot be reformed and will be stopped from any activity.

If we are not rescued, willingly, by God, this is our fate, as well. Really? What choice is there? God desires a world full of good and he will have it.

Well, send all the evildoers to another planet! Not good enough. God will end the ability of evil creatures to do evil to any other evil creature.

God will not coerce you or I into joining in with his wonderful plan for earth, a new and improved earth, by the way. Full of glorified humans. This was and is his goal for humans.

God’s will shall prevail. Why? Because he is God and it is his will. He is good and his will for us is good.

Can we trust him to fix us? You’re not broken? God knows you are. But the process to fix us begins when you and I agree that we are broken and can’t fix ourselves.

Living a Lie

Is it possible that you are living a lie. Now, I don’t mean you are deceiving people around you. I mean that you are not living a true life. What do I mean by that?

I mean that your life is lived in relation to a lie. That lie begins with a question about how people began on earth. If it was some sort of accident then any life is okay. This is a common belief.

Now, is it true? No. Did you know that the idea that life began spontaneously has been given up? The theory has been tested as much as possible in the lab. And they have given up.

Let’s try truth. The truth is that God created people. Not only that but he had great purpose in mind. He used himself as the image and likeness. It says that the Word became flesh. The man Jesus was the same person as before but now became a flesh and blood human. He had been seen in the past in a similar body but not with blood flowing in his veins. He was the prototype for Adam. He was the model for mankind.

What about the great purpose? Glory. It says, All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The glory of God. You and I were made to reflect the glory of God. Angels do not have this mission. We do.

How can this be possible? Jesus, again, is our model. He lived a life in real time with all the temptations. He was the first human to succeed in showing the glory of God on earth.

He said these two simple words, “Follow me.”

But he is not here now. No, but he was and there is a record. In fact, there are four records. Two written by his immediate disciples who responded well to “Follow me.” And two others by ones who recorded secondhand from the original people who knew him well.

What’s different now? The Spirit of God was poured out on people to enable them to better follow Jesus. That is still as true as the day it took place on Pentacost. This is like having Jesus right with you at all times. Jesus said, I am the truth. To follow him is to stop living a lie and begin to be a true human being.

Noah and wife

Wife You are working those boys too hard.

Noah It’s good for them. Keeps their minds off going to the big city, Enoch. You know, the one Cain started. A lot of our people have gone there.

W The boys need some recreation.

N What do you suggest?

W A picnic.

N A what?

W A pic-nic, we go out somewhere and eat food.

N Why?

W Well, we are all sick of looking at the ark.

We need a change – a day away – with no ark talk.

N You may be right. No ark talk, huh?

W That’s right, no ark talk.

W The girls and I need to gather some more kinds of food. Any ideas?

We have grain, oats and barley so far…

N Nuts.

W Don’t be that way.

N I mean nuts as food.

W  Oh.

N Didn’t you say we need a new table?

How many cubits are you thinking?

W You and your cubits! Is that all you can think of is wood working?

N Pretty much.

W See, that’s why we all need a day away.

N Who will watch the ark?

W You think someone will steal it?

N Graffiti , you know how the neighbors kids are.

W Their mothers won’t let them come around here anymore- too many splinters.

N You might be right about your day away.

The boys are talking pretty crazy these days.

Japheth is wondering if beavers will eat the ark. Shem is worried about termites. Ham wonders if the wine will run out.

We really don’t know how long…

W By the way, how many windows will it have?

N One.

W One?

N One, hey, I didn’t design it.

W Well, now I have to tell the girls that nobody  gets a window in their room.

We will have to have some light.

N I hadn’t thought about it.

W I have – and it’s a problem with all that pitch covered wood… We don’t want a fire.

N No, we don’t. And with all the animals. One could kick a lantern over.

W Yes, a burning lantern in the straw on the pitch covered wood floor. That would be bad!

N You’re telling me. You are so practical my dear.

W Maybe all the animals will go to sleep during the time in the ark.

N We really don’t even know all the kinds that will be on it.

W Do we have to have food for them all?

N I don’t know.

W Because if we do, we better get gathering.

I’ve just been thinking of food for us to eat.

If all those animals are eating and pooping and there is only one window to toss the poop out…

N I’m gonna have to think about that.

W See if God can give you a better idea on the animal care that will be needed.

N That’s a fair point, dear.

Japheth asked if we should have lifeboats

But Ham said it’s one big lifeboat

Shem thinks we should name it.

W Name what?

N Name the ark and paint the name on it.

W What’s wrong with The Ark? It’s not like there’s a lot of them around.

N Ham says we should bring some fishing poles and Japheth wants a mermaid on the front?

W And  who would see it?

N Well, after it was parked, you know.

W I’ll bet no one will want to see again.

N That may be… This is taking way longer that I thought it would.

W That’s why we need a day away. Everyone will have a fresh attitude.

N Well, I have to agree, we do need a day away. What did you call it?

W A picnic.

N Hey, what if we name the ark after you?

W And paint it on the back?

N Yeah, people will remember your name forever.

W I think we should stick with The Ark.

Interviewing Adam

Me: We have Adam in the studio. The Adam.

Adam: That’s right, Adam, The Adam. That’s me.

Me: This is so cool. I have some questions!

Adam: Yeah, sorry, I don’t do questions anymore.

Me: Why not?

Adam: Well, people didn’t like the answers for one thing. And, I mean, that was a real long time ago.

Me: But I read your story many times.

Adam: You know who hasn’t read it? Me. I never learned to read. I mean, someone read it to me.

Me: How is it you speak perfect English?

Adam: Am I? I know all the languages, except the Click one. I do get Spanish, and Portuguese mixed up sometimes.

Listen, I’m working on a stand-up routine. Can I try a couple on you?

Me: Sure, I guess so.

Adam: Okay. Someone told me Neal Armstrong was the first man on the moon. I wasn’t impressed. (pause) I was the first man on earth!

What? Nothing? Look, I’m not gonna start with that one.

Eve said to me, “Are you seeing other women?” “I said, “No. There are no other women!”

Do you even have a sense of humor? I can’t bomb again, like last time. Job has this club and he’s giving me another chance. He’s so patient, you know.

Okay, try this one. Do you know the retirement age back then? It was 600. But I was ready.

I invented the hammock, you know. It wasn’t easy. First, you have to plant two trees just the right distance apart.

Then you have to wait 100 years…

Me: That was a good one.

Adam: So Eve says, Why don’t you pick some fruit for dinner?

I said, Isn’t that your department?

She said, Don’t start that again!

I’ll gather some nuts, okay?

She said, That sounds about right for you.

Me: Really? Did that happen?

Adam: No. We agreed to not talk about the past. I mean, why keep blaming each other?

One more. Able said to Eve, I understand that I came from you, Mom, but where did you come from?

She looks at me and says, Do you want to take that one, honey?

 

Look, I’m in a good mood. I’ll do one question.

Me: Where did you sleep?

Adam: Where did we sleep? That’s your question? At first, we slept on the ground. (pause) Near the river.

You know, you should ask Eve your questions.

I think she still answers questions. She’s around somewhere.

Me: You aren’t together?

Adam: Nobody is together! There’s no marriage here.

Me: Oh, yeah.

Adam: Just look for the best looking woman. Wait, I can use that. The best looking woman on earth.

Come to Job’s Place. It’s right near the South Middle Gate.

Me: Is there a cover charge?

Adam: Cover charge? There’s no money! Did you skip Orientation?

What about this? Eve says to me, The cave is chilly at night. (This was later on.)

I said, What about the blanket?

Eve says, Four sheepskins. And who sewed it? Why can’t you just invent indoor heat.

I said, I’m working on it. What about my other inventions? The plow? The door? The potty?

She said, You mean the Big Crooked Stick, The Heavy Rock and The Hole Too Far Away at Night?

I said, Well, I’m more of a Namer than an Inventor, really.

She said, Oh, yeah, like Wiggle-nose, Eight-legs and Long-neck.

I said, Those are very descriptive names.

She said, And, by the way, Eight-legs is still getting into the cave.

I said, I’m working on that.

Okay. now you’re laughing!

Me: That is funny stuff.

Adam: Catch me at Job’s Place. It’s mostly singing acts, a juggler, a plate spinner…

I really don’t get that one. Right near the South Middle Gate. The pearl one. Wait, they’re all pearl. South Middle. Bye. (I have to tell Able this one, Where did you sleep?)

The Interview

Me: Today, we have Adam on the show. The Adam.

Adam: That’s right, Adam, The Adam. That’s me.

Me: I have so many questions!

Adam: Yeah, sorry, I don’t do questions anymore.

Me: What? Why not?

Adam: Well, people didn’t like the answers for one thing. And, I mean, that was a real long time ago.

Me: But I read up on your story.

Adam: You know who hasn’t read it? Me. I never learned to read. I mean, someone read it to me.

Me: So, how is it you speak perfect English?

Adam: Am I? I know all the languages, except the Click one. I do get Spanish, and Portuguese mixed up sometimes.

Listen, the reason I came on is this: I’m working on a stand-up routine. can I try a couple?

Me: Sure, that would be great.

Adam: Okay. Someone told me Neal Armstrong was the first man on the moon. I wasn’t impressed. (pause) I was the first man on earth!

What? Nothing? Look, I’m not gonna start with that one.

So, Eve said to me, Are you seeing other women?

I said, No. There are no other women!

Do you even have a sense of humor?

Me: I like to think so.

Adam: Look, I can’t bomb again, like last time. Job has this club and he’s giving me another chance. He’s so patient, you know.

Okay, try this one. Do you know the retirement age back then? It was 600. But I was ready.

I invented the hammock, you know. It wasn’t easy. First, you have to plant two trees just the right distance apart.

Then you have to wait 100 years…

Me: That was a good one.

Adam: So Eve says, Why don’t you pick some fruit for dinner?

I said, Isn’t that your department?

She said, Don’t start that again!

I’ll gather some nuts, okay?

She said, That sounds about right for you.

Me: Really? Did that happen?

Adam: No. We agreed to not talk about the past. I mean, why keep blaming each other?

One more. Able said to Eve, I understand that I came from you, Mom, but where did you come from?

She looks at me and says, Do you want to take that one, honey?

Look, I’m in a good mood. I’ll do one question.

Me: (Looks down)(pause)Where did you sleep?

Adam: Where did we sleep? That’s your question? Well, at first, we slept on the ground. (pause) Near the river.

You know who you should have on your show? Eve, I think she still answers questions.

Me: How would we contact her?

Adam: I’m not sure.

Me: You aren’t together?

Adam: Nobody is together! There’s no marriage here.

Me: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Adam: What about this? Eve says to me, The cave is chilly at night. (This was later on.)

I said, What about the blanket?

She says, Four sheepskins. And who sewed it. Why can’t you just invent indoor heat.

I said, I’m working on it. What about my other inventions? The plow? The door? The potty?

She said, You mean the Big Crooked Stick, The Heavy Rock and The Hole Too Far Away at Night?

I said, Well, I’m more of a Namer than an Inventor, really.

She said, Oh, yeah, like Wiggle-nose, Eight-legs and Long-neck.

I said, Those are very descriptive names.

She said, And, by the way, Eight-legs is still getting into the cave.

I said, I’m working on that.

Okay. now you’re laughing!

Me: That is funny stuff.

Adam: Catch me at Job’s Place.

Me: Is there a cover charge?

Adam: Cover charge? There’s no money! You know, all this is covered in orientation.

Anyway, it’s mostly singing acts, a juggler, a plate spinner…

I really don’t get that one.

Right near the South Middle Gate. The pearl one. Wait, they’re all pearl. South Middle. Thanks for having me.

(I have to tell Able this one, Where did you sleep?)

Tower of Babel

When I was little, I was told a bible story. The Tower of Babel was built to reach heaven. The people thought they could reach heaven by building a tower very high.

I read this story as an adult and found that their real reason had nothing to do with heaven. Nothing at all. The people were not even interested in heaven.

The enormous tower was a celebration of themselves. They built this tower to focus the people on their goal to have a central point. A city would surround the tower. A great city. This tower would show that this group was going to do great things.

They said, “We will make a name for ourselves!” Look there. We built that tower. It shows our power. We are the greatest people on this planet. Stay with us and feel our greatness.

God wants to stop the project. Because he doesn’t want any towers coming up to heaven? No. He doesn’t want the people to stay together but rather to spread out on the earth.

God does something only God could do. He changes their one language into many unlike languages. He rewires their brains to a new vocabulary, new grammar, new structure of thought. This forces them to divide into groups by language for convenience. It would be too hard to overcome these language differences.

The people leave off the tower. Construction stops. They disassociate from each other and eventually move apart to various areas of the world. They become the beginning of nations.

Now the story has meaning. And many people want to be part of a big thing even now. They join groups to increase their power. Countries train armies. They make weapons and conquer others. They form alliances. They make big groups of people who speak different languages. They still want to make a world governed by a small group with great power.

The story has meaning for today. The language thing worked. It prevented people from organizing into a one world order. But look! They are doing just that right now. They are overcoming the language problem with translators that work in real time.

Not long ago, it was hard to translate a book and really get all the meaning to come through. Now you can translate something written two minutes ago in a country many miles away into your language with a push of a button. You read it and can respond in your language, and they can translate it to theirs.

Do you want to be part of something big? Something that will endure. There is an organization that will last forever. It’s called The Kingdom of God. The king is known. He is Jesus. Right now, he is filling up the list of those who will be in that kingdom forever. But we have to be changed to fit into this kingdom. He can do that. If you are happy the way you are, forget it. If you want to become better, ask him to open your eyes to his kingdom.

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Treasure in Heaven

Matthew writes, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Luke writes, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Treasure! What does that bring to your mind?

I think of The Count of Monte Christo who finds a great treasure with the instructions of his cellmate given with his dying breath.

People are always giving advice about how to guard wealth. Once you have something of value, you think about how to preserve it. I had a cashmere sweater. Moths found it delicious. “Get a case for that new phone.” “Do you want insurance on that?”

Now we have Jesus giving advice on preserving wealth. He says there is a theft-proof, moth-proof, age-proof wealth. What is it? Luke gives us a start. Give to those who need it. Somehow this will accumulate treasure in heaven.

We can expand on that. What you do, unselfishly, for those in need has heavenly consequences. In another place, Jesus says giving to needs of others is the same as giving to him. He will repay you when the receivers can’t.

Jesus made a very clear statement, “Love one another as I have loved you.” How did he love? He gave people what they wanted, sure. But he was always trying to give them what they really needed.

A woman was condemned by a crowd. Jesus said to her that she was not condemned to a sinful life. She should begin again that moment. To another he said, “Your sins are forgiven.” His problem was that he couldn’t walk. Jesus thought his sins were holding him down. He did heal his body as well. In both situations, the person was at a point where they could listen to Jesus.

Jesus was always stretching the minds of his disciples. Is that our experience? Are we growing in faith? Do our experiences make us stronger?

Our experiences can leave us bitter or they can make us better. When you feel a tug to do good to another, where is that from? Maybe the Spirit of God? Look at Peter. He is requested to go speak in a gentile’s home. He has never done anything like this. But God has reminded him that this gospel is for all people in a dream. He goes. He speaks and things happen that surprise him.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Each generation takes on the work of Christ. If we follow the leading of the Spirit, we join in the works of God. But look how he says it: Put up treasure for yourselves. It takes faith to trust God to reward you. Can an ordinary human act with God? Yes, we, like Christ, like the apostles, are sent by God to do good in this world. What is your part? What is my part? First, we come to him. Then we go with him.

Two things to remember: First, he has given us a place in his kingdom. We are assured of a welcome into the next life. It is called eternal life.

Second, we have a secure place to accumulate wealth! Add to your reward. God is rich. He pours out his wealth of mercy on you and me. Now, share my wealth with others. Be merciful to others.

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The Eye

Mathew writes, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.”

Luke writes, “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light; but when your eye is evil, your body also is full of darkness.”

How we see things is important. If our vision is distorted, we may easily interpret events badly. How could our vision be distorted? We are speaking now about our attitude.

You see someone doing something. If you don’t trust that person, you might think they are up to no good. But the same thing done by someone you like and trust may seem fine to you. They probably have permission, you think, and are not stealing that item. You might stop the first person and question them about what they are taking. They said you could, huh. No doubt, a lie, you think.

Jesus speaks of ‘the eye’. He doesn’t say ‘eyes’. From this we know he is speaking of something other than simple vision. Also, he tends to speak in spiritual terms while using common examples. The eye is the internal eye. The light is the understanding, through which the soul sees things. What might distort this?

Well, let’s take it in the context of other statements. Judge not, unless you want to be judged.

In the story of Alice in Wonderland, soon after meeting Alice, the Mad Hatter says to Alice, “Your hair wants cutting.” “You should learn not to make personal remarks,” Alice said with some severity; “it’s very rude.” Later in the conversation, Alice says to the Hatter, “Nobody asked your opinion.” “Who’s making personal remarks now?” the Hatter asked triumphantly.

We laugh at this because we do the same thing. We watch someone’s behavior who has corrected us to see if they are consistent in this matter. This is the exact meaning of the “Judge not..” statement.

So, a judgmental attitude hurts a relationship. Also, an “eye” which is evil distorts your view of life. Do we want our internal life filled with light? If so, our eye must become good. It must be clear or “single” as Luke says. Let’s quickly look at an event. Jesus healed a man’s eyes. He could see clearly but he could not interpret what he saw correctly. He said, “Men look like trees walking.” Jesus touches him again and he can understand what he sees.

We spend our early days connecting our vision to people and things. We understand that the movement of animals is different that the movement of a battery-operated toy. But here is a step further: We accumulate experiences that may teach us that few people can be trusted. Can we trust a God who is invisible? How can we obtain this clear vision?

Clear vision comes from God. It is maintained by trust in God. Only if we believe God is looking out for us can we relax our guard and see things as they are. We can live with the Spirit of God informing us of danger or leading us to truth. This is much different that taking all the responsibility ourselves which is our natural condition.

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

This means to look beyond what your eye sees. Righteous judgement can only be made with the clear view that Jesus had. Having your “body full of light” means there are no hidden places, no shadows. No suspicions of evil yet never deceived by it. What can lead us to this?

A view soaked in love. Love knows there is evil in the world and those who do it everyday. But this love believes ‘all things’. It believes God is above evil. He is all good and powerful and wise. This is part of the attitude that sees clearly. This loving God cares for his own and protects them.

How is this eye ‘single’? It sees all in one look. It never forgets God in its looking at life. It drops the focus on evil and sees God behind the scene, doing good and believing the best about us. He is the wonder parent that makes no mistakes. He sees us correcting our mistakes, confessing our wrongs and improving in our time here.

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