Matthew 5: 43-48
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
So over the weekend, I told my son to go clean his room. He’s a very bright kid. Way too smart for his own good. A fast talker, real smooth with the words, he’ll make a great senator someday. Anyhow, yah I told him to go clean his room and his reply was, “Why? I am just going to mess it up again. ” Such simple logic. I have often thought it may be a real good learning experience to set the table for the kids some night with dirty plates. I could tell them, “Why serve clean plates? You’re just going to dirty them up again and again.”
Why should we love our enemies if they are just going to keep on hating us? We could just avoid them, or speak ill of them or even fight them. It’s because setting an example of forgiveness can diffuse or even heal a broken relationship. Carrying a grudge or resenting someone for days, months, years or even decades does nothing to them, but only causes pain and suffering for you. I know this personally. Forgiving those who have persecuted or wronged me has always been a problem spot for me. Who knows? Perhaps your model of Christian virtue may be enough to cause someone to want to follow Jesus as well. So love everyone around you, even your mother in law.
Don’t just be comfortable with those around you, but become comfortable with those outside of your comfort zone. Those on the outer fringes of life. It’s easy, believe me to go to a large social gathering and only sit down with those who you know and who are comfortable with. It’s those who we aren’t comfortable with that we should be sitting with and talking with. As Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15-16, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.” My wife is one of those people that has a neon on sign hovering over her head that must read something to the effect of, “talk to me about religion”. We could be sitting in a bar, and people will approach her and sit down with her and start talking faith with her. It’s all about sharing the Good News with everyone, everywhere and being prepared to do so even if it’s out of your comfort zone.
Why bother? People are just going to go out and sin again. Why take the time in sharing the Gospel and sharing the faith with people who are only going to go and sin again and again and again. Why make the bed when your going to get it messy? Because Jesus demands that we “be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect”. If we don’t aim high enough in our lives, we will never realize our potential or God’s potential for us. Yes we know we can’t be as perfect as God demands. God knows this too. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try stopping. When we stop aiming for God, we start only aiming in what we can reach, we are no longer serving God but serving ourselves.
Thought for the day: What are some ways I can go out into the public and groups of people that are outside my comfort zone? What are some things I can change in my life to be perfect as God calls me to be?