October 2023

Ever since we were in the sixteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, I have been obsessing about the repeat verses referenced in the image that state, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you lose on earth you lose in heaven.” Scripturally, we have moved on from the material that mentions this idea, but I cannot let go of it because it is worthy of deeper consideration.

In my cogitations on the subject, I find there are ways to look at these verses that bring me
unease on one hand and excitement and possibility on the other. To bind something is to tie or fasten something tightly. In biblical Greek, the verb is also used to indicate someone imprisoned (think about that. For me, what have we imprisoned? Yikes! Welcome to my brain.). This idea of being bound to something and that we have bound it in heaven and on earth is troublesome if what we are binding onto Christ’s Body is abuse of the vulnerable, judgment or hypocrisy or the
slippery slope toward legislating morality like places in the Middle East under Sharia Law. It
was why the Law of Moses was too heavy and impossible to keep. The idea that we are seeing this crop up in our contemporary society troubles me greatly. We cannot make people moral, but maybe we can love them into wanting to be moral by demonstrating that God loves them in Christ and that good choices are best for our lives, our communities, and our country. [Lord, forgive me for anything I may bind on earth that is against your will or teaching that shames the Body of Christ.]
Yet, I see the potential for binding the Church to those things Jesus demonstrated in his life and called us as his followers to do for the sake of the kingdom. Kindness, mercy, peace, self-control, love, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, we should (and many times we do) bind ourselves to these things. Once they are attached to the Church in a manner that reclaims our good name as Christians, we can release it all back into the world. In the binding and releasing of positive, community-building things, God invites us to participate in molding our world. Therefore, what is our responsibility if the world is not what we would like it to be? Both as individuals and the capital “C” church? Paul cautions, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

As you all continue your travels through the Gospel of Matthew in the coming weeks, give some thought to what we are binding and releasing into our world and see if there is not some incentive toward the renewing of our minds and therefore the transformation of ourselves and perhaps the landscape of our communities, our country, and the world. This is serious business, and I don’t need to tell you the need is great. In doing this good work let us remember these words from Paul also, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9) May it be so. Amen?!