Return to the land of the living

Good morning, everyone. Yes, I am still alive, and today I feel more like a person and less like a zombie. Wow. It’s been years since I have been that sick. I hated to miss a post, but yesterday I was so out of it I don’t think it would have made any sense.

I don’t think I’m making sense yet, but I am going to post something, mostly because the verse today is challenging.

Matthew 5:43-45

 43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[a] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![b] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

Part of what makes me love Jesus so much was that He was always challenging the normal way of thinking. He was a rebel with a cause, determined to show people that the religious authorities of the time were fake and that God wanted something real.

This verse is a good example of the paradox of Christianity. Love your enemies. A different translation says to bless those who curse you and to do good to those who hate you. Somewhere else it says to pray for those who use you and persecute you.

As believers, we are to love the people who hate us and discriminate against us. 

Does that sound crazy to anyone else?

I also think of the Beatitudes. What sense do those make? The poor are blessed. The sick are blessed. The weak are blessed?

It’s a paradox.

And probably the biggest one of all — that we have to be childlike to enter the kingdom of heaven. Wouldn’t you think our maturity and our experience in faith and life sets us apart from children? Not according to Christ. According to Him, we have to be just like little children to enter heaven, coming to Him for everything, trusting Him that He knows what He’s doing.

Show me an adult who truly trusts someone else. Adults have trust issues. Children don’t (although in our society, that has changed).

We can learn a lot from children. I can tell you honestly that I learned more from the teenagers I worked with than I ever did from anyone my own age.

I guess what I got out of the verse this morning is just a reminder that as Christians we aren’t supposed to stick to the status quo. Not that we are to live above our outside the rules and the law of the land we live in — or that we should go around challenging every authority we find — that’s foolish and combative and very unChristlike.

But are we supposed to be satisfied plugging away at the daily grind never achieving anything for Christ? Are we supposed to be content in our comfort zones, never rocking the boat, never being different, never standing out? Are we supposed to just rock along with the expectations of our peers and our families and our churches and our country?

I don’t think so. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s not what God has called me to do. We are called to be different. Unique. Peculiar. We’re supposed to stand out. People are supposed to know that we’re different. And they won’t know that if we blend in with the rest of the world. 

What’s nice is that in this world it is easier and easier to be different. If you love your enemies, that’s enough to make everyone look at you funny. If you extend mercy to those who deserve punishment, people will wonder what’s wrong with you. And when they ask you why you’re such a weirdo, you have the privilege of telling them that you’re doing as Jesus said–you’re a Child of God and you want to act like it so that everyone will know the truth.

Love your enemies.

It’s a paradox, but it works.