I wonder if you remember the days before Sunday Trading was allowed – when Sundays were indeed different to all the other days and town centres were closed up and quiet. Sabbath observance as a day of rest was a major part of life for the Jewish people of Jesus’ day, not least because of its mention in the Ten Commandments. And yet, here we have Jesus not only flouting the rules but also proclaiming that his interpretation is the new way for understanding the values of God’s Kingdom.
It’s easy to be hard on the Pharisees, but we need to understand that rules such as Sabbath observance were a sign of distinction for God’s people and formed part of their identity and so any change threatened their whole sense of who they were.
Through Jesus, the Kingdom of God was breaking in and rules that had been appropriate to the old life were now being reshaped and rethought. Just think how radical the Beatitudes, the blessings and woes, would have been to those listening to Jesus speak. And these new ‘rules’ are much harder to keep. No longer is there is a list of do’s and don’ts, but a challenge for our hearts to be aligned with Jesus.
So, what does that mean for generosity?
If we are to follow the example of Jesus, then we need to think about how we see things from God’s perspective and learn to act in a way that fits in with the values of the Kingdom. No longer does our identity belong in the ways of this world but in the ways of heaven and our prayer should be ‘your Kingdom come; your will be done on earth as in heaven’.
And so, our lives need to be shaped by love, action and integrity:
- The love of Christ shining through us
- The call of Christ to act in ways of radical generosity, showing the world the values of God’s Kingdom
- The model of Christ to shape our lives so that every aspect is shaped by him