You may remember a Kia commercial that came out in 2010 that was funny, cute, a little weird and yet very nostalgic, all at the same time. It was a commercial with humanlike hamsters dressed in 90’s hip hop fashion, dancing and driving in the new Kia Soul. And if you’re like me and you grew up during the 90’s, you would have immediately identified the song playing in the background of the commercial. It was a song called “The Choice is Yours” from an early 90’s hip hop group called Black Sheep. The song was from their debut album and was, in essence, their introduction to the world. The video featured the two guys, who are known as Black Sheep, backed up with people dancing behind them, obviously enjoying what they were bringing. And the video would repeatedly contrast this scene with scenes of other things they called “wack” or lame; one of the things being drugs. And they would repeat, in the catchy chorus, over and over again, the constant refrain, “You can get with this or you can get with that!” And as you saw the wack things they were contrasting themselves with, the message of the song became abundantly clear; you could get with the music Black Sheep was introducing to the world or you could get with some inferior, wack alternative. The Choice is Yours; this or that! And thus the title of the song. Kia was basically saying the same thing about the new Kia Soul they were introducing to the world, thus they chose this song. The Choice is Yours; this or that!
As we continue to listen to Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”, which was like His inauguration speech about what life looks like as a citizen of His Kingdom on earth, He begins to make similar contrasts. Jesus is in essence saying that in His Kingdom don’t do this, but do this. If you want to experience the Kingdom life now, then the choice is yours; This or That. So what are these contrasts between how He wants us not to live and how He wants us to live? We find out as we continue to hear Him preach in Matthew 6:1-2…
To fully understand what Jesus is saying here, you need to know about an up and coming Roman-styled city called Sepphoris near the town of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. It was a city being built by Herod the Great, that had a theatre in it. In order to build this city, he hired and contracted builders from the neighboring cities and towns. The word for builder in Greek is Tekton, which is translated Carpenter in our English Bibles. However, when we hear carpenter, we think one who works with wood, but a Tekton worked with both wood and stone. Therefore, it is very likely that Joseph, along with Jesus and His brothers from Nazareth, may have worked as a contractors to build up the city of Sepphoris. As they worked in Sepphoris they would have been very familiar with the theatre there which had actors who played their roles using a mask for each character. Thus these actors were called “hypocrites” because of the two faces or masks they used to play different parts. Jesus is saying to not be like the hypocrites who are wearing one face, acting like they are deeply spiritual, but their real face is not. They are not authentic before God and others, but are acting spiritual in order to be seen! Jesus is saying “This or that.” The choice is yours to keep faking it in order to be seen or you can live the Kingdom Life Now and have an…
I was watching a very awkward video recently from a Christian comedian and social media personality known as Kev on Stage. In the video he was commenting on a game show host who asked a man, who was there with his girl as a couple, how long they had been together. The man happily responded with a smile, “Six months.” Then the girl leaned forward and said into the mic of the host, “We’re just really good friends.” Which she awkwardly, while laughing, said, “Yeah, I’m single.” The look on the face of the host and the members of the audience spoke volumes as the man leaned over to this girl and asked if they could discuss this afterwards. The moment was so painful. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for this guy who just got embarrassed and thrown from the “boyfriend” to the “friend” zone in front of a national television audience. Yet I had to ask myself why would this girl do this? If she didn’t want to be his girlfriend, then why string him along for six months making him feel he’s her boyfriend and then publicly shame him by denying it on national television? It’s because she was a hypocrite, acting with one face in the role of his girlfriend, but really having the face of a single person. What this girl revealed to the world was that she wasn’t authentic. And before we are too quick to judge this girl, many of us are treating God with the same level of inauthenticity. We like to pretend we have an authentic relationship with God so others will think we’re spiritual.
Jesus is teaching that an authentic spirituality flows from a personal relationship with God that’s developed in private. He highlights 3 spiritual practices that are not to be done to be seen by others, but as it were, in private. In verses 1-4 Jesus teaches His disciples to do good or charitable deeds, but not in order to be seen as righteous. In verses 5-8 He teaches not to pray like the hypocrites, in order to be seen as righteous or like the heathen who use vain repetition, because they think their prayers will be heard due to their constant repetition of words. Then after teaching the disciples the famous “LORD’s prayer”, He then gives instructions on fasting, assuming it will be a regular part of the lives of His disciples. In each of these examples He stresses doing them privately, not in order to be seen, for God will reward openly what is done authentically, in private.
Do you like to be seen as a deeply spiritual person and so you fake it in the sight of others? Jesus invites you to deepen your walk with Him through prayer, Scripture and the in dwelling Holy Spirit, not to be seen by others, but for the sheer enjoyment of being with Him. People are attracted to a genuine relationship with Jesus, that is real. They are repulsed by one that is fake. They can see when it’s fake and God sees it and is also repulsed by it. Jesus says the choice is yours. You can get with this or you can get with that. Real or Fake? This or that, He says.