27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Conversion of Lydia
11 We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13 On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14 A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.
Two juxtaposed opposites that are really different expressions of the same capacity for desire:
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
St. Augustine, 354-430, Bishop of Hippo, North Africa: The Confessions
“…the word ‘lust’ is taken to include normal interest in sex…”
US Supreme Court, in Washington-state case Brockett V. Spokane Arcades, 1985
What is Jesus doing here in these two passages that form our scripture for this morning?
Engaging in the same juxtaposition of seeming opposites:
1. Desiring God the Creator – love – the ancient Old Testament commandments summarized in two that that include the heart, the inner core person;
2. Desiring what God has made, creation – lust – Making it clear that the heart, the inner core person, is where God has placed our capacity for a desire that can be distorted.
“’Where thy heart is, there shall thy treasure be also.’ Our treasure may of course be small and inconspicuous, but its size is immaterial; it all depends on the heart, on ourselves. And if we ask how we know where our hearts are, the answer is just as simple – everything which hinders us from loving God above all things and acts as a barrier between ourselves and our obedience to Jesus is our treasure, and the place where our heart is.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, The Cost of Discipleship, writing on Matthew 6:21
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8