Friday, April 26, 2024

Prayer or Performance? Matthew 6:5-8

Prayer is a tricky subject. When people are called to pray in public, suddenly prayer takes on a whole new dimension.  If we are praying in private, and no one is listening but our heavenly Father, we feel safe.  God doesn't care if you are eloquent or halting in speech; He just wants to hear from you.

In the same way, when we are called to sing in public, suddenly music takes on a whole new dimension.  If we are singing in private, and no one is listening but our heavenly Father, we feel safe to belt it out, freely and unencumbered. It matters not at all if we hit the right notes.  If we singing from our heart, regardless of how it sounds, the Father is delighted.

God is not about performance.  When our acts of devotion become something other than a free expression of our love for Him, He is not delighted.  In the Kingdom of God, prayer is a lovely dialogue between Father and son, Father and daughter.  It is not for public consumption, even if it's done in public. Jesus is very clear about how it should be done and the motivation behind it:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matt. 6:5-8)

OK, Rabbi Jesus.  I am beginning to think You are against us doing anything in public on behalf of our faith.  Well, I guess I am being hasty.  You just don't want us making a big deal when we give to the poor.  I supposed if I am handing some coins to a beggar and I make a big noise so everyone will look at me, they are also looking at the beggar, which surely would be embarrassing to him.  No one, who is down and out, wants people staring at them and us making a big deal will do just that.  I guess the Father sees everything, and we don't need approval of our piety from anyone but Him, so it makes sense that we don't do everything as if we are on stage. 

Yeah, those big and loud prayers gushing from someone is annoying.  Their flowery words, their "look at me, I am so pious!" is nauseating.  I get it why you call them "hypocrites"--that's the word the Greeks use for their actors. They're people who put on masks and pretend to be an old woman, or a servant or a rich man, and yet underneath they just regular folks, willing to say and do whatever it takes to have the audience like them. No depth, just a mask.  No substance, just lines uttered.  No sincerity: just memorized words and emotions to entertain. 

Yes, I see how that would be offensive to our Father. 

Jesus wanted those who enter the Kingdom of God to be sincere sons and daughters of God, not because of lineage and history, but because of love. Lineage and history are important for sure, but they are no replacement for words spoken from a heart that wants to love mercy and justice and walk humbly with God, as the prophet Micah entreated the people of Israel long ago to do.

More piety, more reward?  What a terrible formula to operate under as a son or daughter of God.  Jesus is adamant that any reward such people are seeking, for having made their relationship with God so public and formulaic, will be only what they receive from others. How shallow is that?  People only admire you for so long, then they will conspire to bring you down.  

Admired one day, despised the next.

Jesus offers the solution for public acclamation:  Go right to your closet, shut the door and pray to God.  Unhindered. Unrehearsed.  Unadmired.  That will bring a smile to God's face, as He watches you prayerfully talking to Him, and only Him.  The reward will come to you and the answer will be given to you, not because you are all that and a bag of chips, but because you prayed with love in your heart.

But be careful.  Even sincere people can fall into a trap of asking over and over, heaping words upon words and a sense that God isn't listening, because nothing is happening. Wrong.  Jesus is adamant that God hears you and already knows your need. He wants to commune with you and hear your heart. Going on and on, repetitiously, isn't the kind of prayer God delights in--you and I do not want to be talked to over and over, with the same idea with the same words being spoken.  God is no different.

But why does then God want us to pray if He already knows what we need.  I know my children need dinner, but when they ask me, "Hey, Mom!  When's dinner?" we make a connection.  We talk, we share and we may even veer off the subject of dinner and talk about other things.

Our Father is no different.  He wants to make a connection with us, share with us, and talk about many things. 

His lack of action is not a lack of love--many things must go into place for a prayer to be answered.

Let me finish with an analogy, which I think will get the point across.  

I have two English springer spaniels, and meal time is a big deal for them.  We will ask, "Do you want dinner?" and they get so excited, they can hardly contain themselves. I scoop a cup of dog food into their respective bowls, and they chow down without hesitation.

I answered their "prayer" (a sincere desire) about having dinner.  

But do they have any idea what it took to get that scoop of dog food? I had to go to the store and buy a bag, and load it into my car and bring it home.

I have spent many years working, so I could buy a car.  I had to spent many years working to buy a house.  I have to spend my money wisely so I have enough money to pay the house and car payments and then enough to afford the dog food.

It's not just any dog food.  It's a specific brand, recommended to me by their breeders.  I can't give them just any old amount; too much and they get porky, too little and they get too thin. 

I have gone to many stores searching out this brand and the right size of the kibble bits. I only buy a certain size bag, because the really big bags are too heavy for me to lift. 

But if you were to ask my dogs, they would say, "We are praying Mommy feeds us.  She only answers us twice a day, and only gives us a small (in our opinion) amount. Sometimes, she is gone and comes home late (in our opinion) and we eat later than usual.  We bark and bark to remind her, but she tells us to settle down. We try. We just wish Mommy would feed us way more often, and give us way more food.  We don't always understand her, but we know she loves us."

God must do many things to bring about an answer to prayer.  His seemingly tardiness is putting everything in place (most of which we do not see nor understand) and giving us His best--not just any old answer, but His brand, filled with good things and His love.

We can bark to remind Him again and again, but He'd rather have our love, even if we don't understand it all.

That's why it's called faith--we trust God knows what's best for us, even if we disagree with Him.  Just as my dogs cannot begin to understand the complexities surrounding that scoop of food, we as finite beings cannot understand the workings of our divine Father.  Jesus is showing us how the Kingdom operates: on God's love. 

It's a beautiful basis for this Kingdom, but it takes our faith to keep standing on His promises. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Who Gets the Glory? No, Really...

How often have you driven past a guy holding a cardboard sign and turned away/glared/felt guilty or handed him some money, all the while wondering if you did the right thing.

I tend to help women over men. I will stop for a woman stranded on the road.  Having grown up in LA during the time when serial killers were making the news nightly, I will not just drive by someone who is vulnerable.  

But sadly, women are used to lure people to help them, while an abusive man is standing by, knowing people's compassion will win the day and he will grab whatever she brings in. 

Sometimes, you feel it's a no-win situation.  What will they spend the money on? Drugs, alcohol and whatever they are using to numb themselves--are we contributing to their demise?   Once, I offered to take a woman grocery shopping.  She stayed outside with her son, and I went and bought groceries. I brought them to her and I gave her son a little stuffed animal. I felt I had done the right thing--but the doubt always remains.

I have brought water to people stranded in their cars on a hot day; I talked with an anxious motorist until she was calm enough to drive away, and I bought water and bread to a mentally ill man who was wearing a sweater on a hot summer day and who was attempting to walk along the highway that was going into the mountains. 

This list is not untended to impress you; it's my way of saying I just don't drive by with a guilty conscience every time nor do I help every single person I see. 

When I do, I pray it's the right and safe thing to do.

When I encounter someone, I ask over and over, "Spirit, is this what You want me to do?"  If I don't get a clear directive, I pray for the person and keep driving.  The Spirit is very clear; my niggling doubts are not from Him, and I also don't want to act from guilt.

Guilt is a powerful tool to get people to act in ways they might not otherwise consider.  The people who stand begging for a "job" have many things going for them: (1) a torn piece of cardboard indicating they are so down and out they had to scrounge in a dumpster just to get a sign (2) the sign says "God bless," indicating you are serving God if you give them money and they are really grateful for it (3) they are desperate for any show of human kindness, so they will wave and smile at you (4) the goal isn't a job but money, but their "willingness" to work means they want you to know that they aren't just begging (5) they are there "spontaneously," being as desperate as they are, despite picking locations that are strategic--such as intersections where you can't talk to them, get their story and find out if they have sought out services (6) have they actually applied for a job, or are they implying that no one will hire them so they have to beg?

Not a flattering picture, is it?  And yet, it must work, for there is no shortage of people every day out there, sign in hand and asking for money. 

As Christians, how are we to handle the "giving to the poor" thing?

Jesus is not asking us to give everything we have to the poor; He is not advocating indiscriminately giving them money, for we may be assisting the person to pursue sin. He isn't asking us to ignore the plight of the poor or have distain for them. He is asking us in these verses form Matthew 6:1-4, to have the right motivation as we give. The right posture.  The right heart.

What does He say? 

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matt. 6:1-4)

Hmmm.  So these verses seem to indicate that there were those who made a big show of their philanthropy.  Hmmm.  Why would people do that?

Wait a minute, Rabbi Jesus!  You said earlier that we are to be salt and light, and that we should shine our light, so others will see what we are doing, and praise God because of that!  Oh.  The praise and focus is on our Father, not in us.  We are just the candle.  God is to be praised because of the light. Oh.  Got it now.

Is there a modern equivalent?  


Instead of looking at our big church with all of its programs, and admiring it, it is better to ask:  What is God doing in my church?

Instead of putting a teacher or pastor on a pedestal and admiring him or her, it is better to ask:  What is God doing through this person?

Good deeds are good deeds, and benefit the recipients, but in the Kingdom of God, good deeds should point to God.

We, Christian or not, grow prideful when people focus on us or on our church--its programs, its worship team, its influence in the culture--but we forget one important thing when our eyes are on the tangible:  Who gave us the resources, talents and knowledge to do these things in the first place?  

In the parable of the talents, it was the master who gave the men the money--although the amounts were different, the master expected the men to use the talents to benefit the master. 

Instead of, "Wow!  Look at what those men did with the talents!" our response should be, "What a wonderful master who knew his servants so well that he empowered them to go out and increase what he gave them!"

Jesus is asking His listeners to remember who gave them the resources in the first place and the opportunities to disburse them:  God.  So, trumpeting your giving and making a big show of your generosity is contrary to the silent but sure working of a person in the Kingdom of God.  If you don't get any acknowledge or praise, so what?  Your Father will reward you, and that's way better than anything man has to offer.

God reminds the children of Israel, before they enter the Promised Land, how easy it will be for them to forget Who provided for them to enter in the first place, and how He made all this abundance possible:

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today." (Deut. 8:10-18)

"When you are satisfied..." That is the key element here.  No longer were the people faced with insurmountable challenges: being enslaved, wandering in the wilderness with its poisonous denizens, lacking food and water, and just surviving day to day. Now, the people are settled in, with prosperity and creature comforts all around them.  But, beware when arrogance begins to settle in:  Look at what we've done!  We are so amazing that we were not only given this land but we made it into what it is today!  Go us!

Humans are not very good at taking God's blessings in the good times and turning them into praises.  We are satisfied, thinking that our prosperity and satisfaction comes from something we did, forgetting way too quickly that it is God Who gives us the abilities and the resources in the first place. Oh, we are very quick to call on God to rescue us from things we cannot do, but once we can do something, our focus narrows down to us. 

Giving to the needy is a noble thing.  Looking and praying for opportunities to help others is a part of God's kingdom. 

But we must first praise God for giving us the resources to give away.  

We need to praise God for inspiring us to give and the wisdom to know who to give to and how much. 

At the center of the Kingdom of God is God, not us.  We are happy servants, wanting our Master alone to receive the glory and praise. 

His joy about our obedience is reward enough.  

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Tax Collectors and Pagans? Really, Jesus?

Jesus knows who the enemies are as He preaches from that mountainside.  He isn't unaware of the Romans walking down the streets of Jewish towns, eyeing everyone with suspicion and contempt. 

He knows what awaits Him at the hands of the Romans, when they decide they have had enough of this troublemaker from Galilee. 

He knows all too well the adversarial gaze of the religious leaders whose jealousy and anger dangerously boils beneath the surface.

He knows what awaits Him at the hands of these leaders when the people talk of a man being resurrected and His claims of God being His Father cross the line from itinerant rabbi to blasphemer and unforgivable upstart. 

Both parties, who detest each other, will one day unite in common cause to rid their world of this Man whom the people respect and listen to, unlike themselves.  Who listens to the Romans?  Who listens to the religious leaders?  But this poser from Nazareth... 

Jesus knows His enemies and He knows ours:  Our neighbor, our family member, ourselves. So after talking about not allowing retaliation rule over our grievances with one another, but allowing love to recapture the situation, He then takes us deeper into our relationship with those who we consider our enemies:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt. 5:43-48)

Later, in answering which of the Old Testament's commandments are the greatest, Jesus will summarize it this way:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37-40)

First, let's visit the Jewish Law as presented in Leviticus and see what it says:

"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God."

As You speak Rabbi, I am thinking about the verses in our Law.  You are not getting rid of our Law but You seem to be refreshing our thinking about it.  We have listened way too long to the religious leaders' interpretations and I think we have missed out on what the Law really says.  OK, Rabbi, You are defining who is our neighbor, aren't You? It's the poor and those who are not Jewish--the ones who live in our land but aren't one of us.  

"Do not steal.  Do not lie.  Do not deceive one another."

OK, that's fair, Rabbi.  I wouldn't want anyone stealing, lying or deceiving me, so I shouldn't do that to anyone.

"Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord."

I understand. We should just let our "yes" be "yes" and our "no" be "no."  I am listening, Rabbi!

"Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.  Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight."

Yes, Rabbi, I would want to be paid promptly and having trust between me and my neighbor are essential if me and my neighbor are to get along.

"Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord." 

One day, I may become blind or deaf, or someone in my family.  That kind of treatment is so unkind.  Life is hard enough for them; we should not make it harder. 

"Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly."

We want justice when we are wronged but we want mercy when we are the wrongdoer.  The courts need to be impartial and so should we.  There shouldn't be two kinds of justice, one for the rich and one for the poor. If anyone needs protection in the courts, it's the poor, especially if the accuser is rich. 

"Do not go about spreading slander among your people.  Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord."

Yes, if I spread rumors that assassinate my neighbor's character, people might come after him or drive him away.  Lies endanger people and I should never be party to such talk. 

"Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt."

I want to love others, like You do, Rabbi. Instead of accusing my neighbor and running into court, I need to go and talk with my neighbor.  Resentment can turn into hate way too quickly.  I am listening to Your words!

"Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." (Lev. 19:9-18)

Wow, Rabbi, that's the defining idea, isn't it?  I love myself and look out for myself; I need to do so because God says "I am the Lord" after His decrees--He takes this all very seriously and as a follower and child of the Most High, my behavior needs to reflect that truth.  Can't bless my neighbor and the nations if I do otherwise!  Now, You are telling me to expand my definition of "neighbor."  It's my enemies--instead of cursing them, I am to pray for them?  You say that shows my sonship to my Father in heaven.  He loves us both--fallen and forgiven, chosen and cursed, loved and loathed. True, the rain falls on both of us--He still cares for those who do not care for Him.

It's easy to love those who are lovable, treat us kindly and have our best interests at heart.  That's not fair, Rabbi, to compare us to tax collectors and pagans when we love those who love us!  But I suppose You want us to remember it's the unlovable who need love the most. I think that word "perfect" You are using means that we should be people of integrity and virtue, and we are maturing everyday towards that. [1] After all, God is the One who reflects morality without flaw; if we are His, how can we settle for less? 

So, in other words, when our leaders teach us what is contrary to the Word of God--that hating our enemies is someone OK with Your Father--we need to read it for ourselves and meditate on its true meaning. 

Our roots have shriveled, Lord, trying to draw water from our leaders' springs. But the psalm says, 

"Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers." (1:1-3)

I want to draw deeper into the springs You are taking us to--I am thirsty. I can't completely blame the leaders for that--I bear responsibility for letting them think for me. But You give me hope, Rabbi Jesus, that deeper springs await.

[1] "Perfect." Strong's Concordance.

Friday, April 5, 2024

The Master's Class

 I just moved!  That is why my blog has gone eerily silent.  But I am back, sitting in my new "office" (home sweet home!) with a view of some lovely trees and a blue sky.  God is good!

We are exploring the Kingdom of God life.  Just as Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments to inaugurate an new way of life to those former slaves of Egypt, so too does the new Moses, Jesus, sit on a mountainside and present a new way of living and thinking about God and each other. 

Jesus fulfills the Law by enriching it with a more subtle and mercy-driven approach.  The Mosaic law is not devoid of mercy; quite the contrary.  But by Jesus' day, minutiae had triumphed over mercy, condemnation over community and judgement over justice.  The Lord God of Israel had become distant, eyeing every misstep of His children with impending wrath; Jesus was seeking to recapture the image of God and refashion it to not just the God of our fathers, but God the Father.

Jesus was presenting a foundation of love.  So, obviously, murder is not allowed but neither is hate. Adultery is not allowed, but neither is lust.  Divorce is not allowed except for adultery and breaking an oath is not allowed but neither is using sacred things to underscore one's word.  Yes or no is good enough.


Jesus continues with His emphasis on love. The Mosaic law allowed for many kinds of recompense for wrongs done to a person by another person.  Without that, the Israelites would have descended into chaos, and would have disappeared in the desert, victims of their own violence towards one another. They needed divine structure to contain, guide and inform them on how to live.  Their Egyptian  taskmasters had given them structure alright, but one predicated on violence and control.

The Mosaic law recast what a society predicated on the one true God looked like: free from fear, justice infused with mercy and above all, a love for God that translated into right action. 

But in every society, there are those who violate the law, scorn ethics and hold others in contempt.

What do we with these folks?

In Exodus 21:22-27, God instructs the people as to what to do in various injury cases:

1.  If someone deals a deliberate fatal blow to someone, the offender will be put to death. If someone deals an unintentional fatal blow to someone, the offender will be able to seek sanctuary in a distant place.  

2.  If someone attacks or curses their parents, the offender will be put to death. 

3.  If someone hurts someone so severely that the victim must take to their bed, the offender is liable for the victim's time lost due to their injury. 

4.  If someone beats their slaves to death, their own death will result. 

5.  If a pregnant woman is hurt during a quarrel between two people, (You can picture two men going at it, one of the wives steps in to stop the quarrel and she is injured as well) the husband has the right to demand compensation if the woman gives birth before the baby is due.

But, and this is the important part to our discussion: "But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." (Ex. 21:23-25)

Even slaves fall under this provision: 

"An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth." (Ex. 21:26-27)

Slaves are not exempt from harsh treatment.  It would be so easy for the children of Israel to forget they were once slaves, and because of the "role models" they had, act like taskmasters themselves.  

Slavery is an abhorrent practice, but in ancient times, slavery was a common practice.  Slavery was an alternative to putting captives from wars and raiding to death; in the nascent nation of Israel, slaves were to have a measure of protection. 

So, in summary, the punishment must fit the crime.

We hold to the same idea:  We don't execute people for stealing cars or robbing banks. We don't allow murderers to go unpunished, and we seek to have the offender compensate the victim.  The law is not perfect for it is written by imperfect people, but God shows us, that in our fallen world, justice matters and law must uphold morality. Evil must not go unpunished.

Jesus is addressing a common reaction people have to injustice: retaliation. And why not?  If you kill my son, I should be able to come over and hurt your family.  If you run over my dog, I will come over and shoot yours.  If you sleep with my wife, I will seek to catch you in the act and hurt you or maybe even kill you.  Anger, hurt and personal justice drives us to take the law into our own hands and mete out our form of justice. Retaliation is a natural response to grievous wrongs. 

Jesus shows us, that in this Kingdom, there is a way to redeem the grievance, the wrong, the hurt:

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matt. 5:38-42)

OK, Rabbi Jesus, that is a bridge too far.  My neighbor is a bit easier to forgive, because, well, after all, I have to live next door to him.  I must admit, I would want him to be fair to me if I did someone wrong to him.  I guess we want to hand out justice when we are wronged, but we desire mercy when we wrong someone. 

If I slapped someone, I would want them to not retaliate and hit me back. Their restraint would speak mightily of their character.

If I wanted to sue someone, and they handed me more than I was demanding, I would be stunned and then touched by their willingness to end the feud with generosity. 

If I demanded that someone come with me, and they went above and beyond my request, I would be astounded and view them in a whole new and rather positive light. 

I want to have a generous spirit, and sometimes if I can bring a bit of love to someone who needs it, the blessing goes both ways--to me and the person I am helping.

But Rabbi!  What about the ROMANS?  Disgusting, idol-worshipping, pagan and violent men who treat us like dogs? 

They do force us to do things for them, and carry their stuff for them.  An extra mile, you say?  I hate doing it for just one mile.

This Kingdom of God teaching seems to want us to move beyond what we are entitled to by Mosaic law, and reach out to those who do not know the one true God except by how we act. If we withdraw and sneer at them, how can we honor what you told Abraham?  How can we be a blessing to all nations if we isolate ourselves from the nations that need to know Him?

Oh, Rabbi.  The Romans. Really?

Jesus never asked the people to do something He wouldn't do.  

Fast forward to a few years from now:  Jesus will teach the Master's class on how to apply these teachings.  Stand with me at the foot of the cross on Good Friday: "When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, 'Surely he was the Son of God!'" (Matt. 27:54)

Yes, even the Romans could be moved by Jesus.

The Kingdom of God seeks instruct those who will carry the Word to and be a blessing to all nations.   Why? They need God the most: "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Rom. 10:14)
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