Commentary: What does it mean to say that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The gospel writer, Matthew, is putting these words down for a very young Christian tradition, still mostly Jewish followers of Christ with some Gentile participation. The young ekklesia, as Matthew calls the assembly of the faithful, struggles with oppression from outside and wrestles with how to get along together on the inside.
Learning to live together faithfully in community was and is a large part of walking in the way of Jesus. Those who chose (and who choose) to do so are not embarking on an unmapped journey without assistance or guidance. They have scripture for their map, church community for their support, and the Holy Spirit as their GPS. Embracing all of these tools means seizing onto what heaven, what God, has offered to the church universal.
By using these tools as individuals and as the Christian community, we will be living out what it means to say, “Jesus is the Messiah, God’s anointed, the son of the only living God.” It is in the living out that religion moves into faith. Correspondingly, faith means that some things are drawn close and others are released.
Faithful living includes the embrace of community, the love of one’s neighbor, active forgiveness, unbridled generosity. Faithful living also requires the rejection of racism, classism, the using of others as means to an end, the abuse of power, and the worship of anything other than God as God.
What we embody, what we say, our choices are bound to us through habit, action, and association. This life shows God and those around us what we take seriously and what is important to us. As it aligns with God’s mission and kin-dom, it is bound in heaven and will flourish in mystery and sometimes within our own witnessing.
What we reject, what we renounce, what we denounce, and what we abandon becomes separated from us. It rusts and fades. It cannot take root. These words, actions, and choices indicate to God and our neighbors that these things have no place in our community or our lives. They have been loosed from association with us and they return to nothingness.
Thus, we are called to be in daily reflection to what we are binding and loosing in our lives and communities. What are we calling forth? What are we letting go? What have we asked the Spirit to help flourish? What have we renounced to rootlessness and non-existence?
All of these things together reflect to show the truth of our answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?”
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