Advent Day 21
Worldly Gain versus Eternal Life Perspective
Passage Reading: Matthew 16:13-26
We went to Caesarea Philippi and learned about the gates of Hades and how people worshipped Pan, the fertility God (Matthew 16:18). Maybe they thought that by worshipping Pan, a (foreign) fertility God, they would bring "life and fertility" to themselves, their herds and crops. They didn't realize that doing this brought forth death, stealing and killing their souls.
"What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" - Matthew 16:26
We too often participate in worldly activities or pursuing something that we think will bring us life and realize it brings us nothing but disappointment, distant relationship with God, and hopelessness. It is when we take up our cross and pursue the kingdom of God that we will find real life.
"On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" - Matthew 16:18
Wherever our "gates of Hades" are, they will not stand if we follow, obey, and push forward in pursuit of God's kingdom.
Then we talked about the next few verses from Matthew 16:19, from which I learned a very important lesson that changed my perspectives in how to live our life as we make decisions daily.
"...whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Our Pastor gave an excellent analogy to explain "binding and loosing": a rubber band. A rubber band can stretch. You can stretch it gently or you can stretch it wide and there will be a point where it will break. "Binding and loosing" in the Bible means to forbid and to permit. A pastor of a church says no to wine and no to getting drunk. Another pastore may have a different opinion about drinking wine and permit (loosing) the drinking to wine as long as you don't get drunk (forbid/binding). So just like how a rubber band can be stretched as little or as far, there is flexibility in the Bible, but there will be a point where we may go too far and cause us to sin. How far is too far? How much can I get away before I break God's commandments? God gives us brain and soul for a reason and He expects us to use them. He wants us to wrestle with Him as we make decisions, to think about His Words and do better, and bring about good changes to those around us. God is with us as we make decisions within the bounds of Scripture (within the rubber band), but as we become more permissive (loosing) in our choices, there is more room to break the Law (setting ourselves up for temptations or to sin). We are given an authority to "bind and loose" and we need to be responsible for the authority He's given us. So instead of always looking for loopholes and for a way out, why not think of ways to do everything we can to obey God's Word to the fullest so that we can honor God. Instead of asking how far is too far, why not ask how pure is too pure. Instead of asking how much we can get away with before we break God's Word, why not we think of how much we should keep the Law and be obedient. These are some lessons that we have to keep thinking while we go about living our lives.