On Affirmation and Rebuke

You might say that Jesus’ magnum opus on moral ethics is His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). When we zoom out and look at the sermon as whole we find it equal parts affirmation and rebuke.

The affirmation is one that humans are special and beloved by God. When Jesus says “you are the light of the world” and “you are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5: 13-16) He is telling us that being human is a beautiful thing. In fact, there is no disclaimer here about who is and who isn’t the light of the world or salt of the earth! All are light and salt. The command though is that we spread our light and saltiness in the world we live in—not hiding our light, or selfishly hoarding our salt.

Due to our stubborn nature though, rebuke must closely follow affirmation and respect. After we affirm the beauty of our humanity, we quickly realize our fallibleness and limitations. Rebuke is not a mean-spirited word (as much as it seems to get a bad rap these days). It is a good and right challenge when it comes from irreproachable truth. Rebuke pushes us to be better stewards of the world we live in and asks us to improve our relationships with one another. It is the necessary tool for enlightening us and encouraging us to turn from our sin.

We must go forth with complete affirmation for one another, while simultaneously listening to/for right and good rebuke. In this dance with affirmation and rebuke we find ourselves living humanity in a better, fuller way. We now live our humanity in a way that is beyond ourselves, and for the glory of the Eternal Kingdom.

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