Sunday, February 1, 2015

100 Days on Jesus’ Sermon Mount (Day 22)

Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to commit an offence, gouge it out and throw it away; for it is preferable for you to lose one part of your body than to have your whole body thrown on the rubbish tip.
— Matthew 5:29 (USC)
Addicts find the point of surrender to the behaviours of their illness one of dissociating from the realities of reason, such that a more illogical agreement can be entered into. This is a negative dissociation.
Let’s explore another use of dissociation – oppositely arranged – to empower us against the matters of the mind that will get us into trouble because of temptation.
We can think of gouging out an eye as an action of a pure body expelling an impure body part; of an intentional dissociation that the body engages in to keep the body sound of health.
Of course, we would never do such a thing as gouge out one of our eyes.
The point is that we are to focus on what is pure within our bodies and not focus on that which is impure. In the case in point, ought we not to dissuade our eye from the pretty woman by the persuasion of something equally pretty in our natural environment – something beautiful in God’s creation? Of course, the woman is pretty; God does not want us to deny such a fact. But we are implored not to make more of the prettiness than we ought to.
Prettiness abounds everywhere, but some prettiness takes us into sin, whereas other prettiness takes us into praise for the glories of God bestowed before our eyes. Which should we choose? It is easy to see that prettiness is for the eyes, though God wills it that we make a wise choice in the beauties we partake of with intention.
If our eye takes us in the troubled territory, the rest of the body (via the mind) must dissociate itself from the eye by making a reminder to the eye of more noble things to be partaken of.
There is so much in our natural and relational environments to be enjoyed, in all senses of purity. Every person before us, and very many natural sights and sounds and tastes, has beauty.
As we enjoy the beauty that God has put in to each person, and in so many natural environments, we begin to have less interest for the impure thoughts of coveting those sights that are not ours.
Beautiful things are displayed everywhere. We must discern what is healthy for visual consumption.
1.     How might you practice this process of dissociation with intention in your daily life? What temptations is God urging you to attend to? How will you make an intentional assault on these temptations?
2.     Why do you think Jesus speaks in such hyperbole? Why does Jesus exaggerate, for instance, ‘gouging out the eye’? What is our Lord’s purpose in speaking in such shocking ways?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.

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