Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Binding & Loosing
I thought it'd be interesting to write/think/discuss the biblical concept of binding and loosing in today's post.
Binding and loosing is an originally Jewish phrase which appears in the New Testament, as well as in the Targum. In usage to bind and to loose mean simply to forbid by an indisputable authority, and to permit by an indisputable authority.
Jesus continues the early Jewish discussion and notion in Matthew 18, when he says, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
What exactly does this mean?
I'm not going to pretend to have the right answer.
But what I can do is offer an opinion (which I think has a biblical, contextual, and historical basis.)
Could Jesus be speaking to those of us that create laws or ways of living that might be otherwise different than how we've interpreted God's original intention? By that I mean, God gives us a wide open grace and compassion and justice, that seems to be including all of humanity, but for some, we minimize the huge-ness of God to fit our particular theologies, doctrines, orthodoxies, denominations, and networks. In doing so, are we creating new realities with eternal consequences (both good and bad)?
Think about the questions posed to Jesus regarding the Kingdom of God...a rich young ruler asks how he might inherit it, and Jesus speaks in economic terms. That man is certainly bound by an economic identity and way of life. The way(s) he binds and looses his money on earth will likewise resemble eternity.
When a farmer asks Jesus about the Kingdom of God, Jesus speaks in agricultural terms, because that man's identity, calendar, and way of life revolves around crops and cultivation.
When the church leaders ask about the Kingdom of God, Jesus speaks of a wedding banquet which is more inclusive than they would like.
Again, it seems Jesus is tying identity to what is bound and loosed. He goes beyond the hard-lined black and white-ness of what the Old Testament seems to say, and creates new realities.
Today we find ourselves in various congregations that label certain things taboo or heretical, while other congregations may not. Does this mean there's not a specific right or wrong (method to inheriting the Kingdom of God)? Perhaps, perhaps not.
But in each of these cases, the Kingdom of God is merited, understood, and lived in different ways: giving away money, planting seeds and letting weeds grow amongst them, and being inclusive as to who's seated at the wedding party.
Remember, in Revelation we're also told that the gates of heaven are left wide open (Revelation 21:25). So just perhaps those black and white issues that we tend to label closed or open handed, will have eternal implications. Perhaps we are creating eternal realities. Perhaps eternity doesn't begin at death, but birth.