November 22, 2017

Jesus Calls Us to Perfect Love

By Chaplain Mike
Today’s Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48

…No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

…If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus?

…In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

• From Matt. 5:38-48, MSG

if only this spiritual life
were about “spiritual things”
i might manage

if only i could cloister myself
to worship, watch, and pray
i might feel competent

if only there were a simple list
rules to guide and bind and lead
i might make the grade

but it’s not just jesus and me…

there are kooks in cars
who cut me off while on their phones
and cause my rage to rise

there are critics in corners
who trash my name behind my back
and rankle my resolve

there are crooks in commerce
who make false claims and double-deal
and rile my sense of rectitude

and i who am our father’s child
who breathes the air of kingdom new
yet still enfleshed and flawed and frail
must greet and speak and work beside
all manner of neighbor and friend and foe
and this is where new life must grow
in soil of human interchange
where we shake hands or by hands are struck

and heaven’s rain falls on us all

Comments

  1. Excellent Mike! There a few passages that haunt me more than the end of Matthew 5. The call to love our enemy…that is, to really love them, not just lip service, not just mere tolerance, but an active, cheerful love flowing out of my joy for Christ….is a thing that constantly reminds me how little like Christ I really am. And the promise is that if Christ’s grace leads me to that kind of love, then I am perfect (whole, complete) and understand something of what Kingdom living is really like.

  2. There are the crooks, the abusers, the molestors, the haters, the name-callers, the power-hungry, the control freaks, those who are always right, those who want my money but care not for me, those who quote Scripture but don’t live it, those who hate their neighbor, the religious, the lovers of money and self – and they put on a suit every Sunday and go to church and sit among those who follow you Jesus and pretend. Teach me to love even them.

    • Thats me you’re pointing out. At my church that makes me an elder. Recognizing my sin and pointing to Christ. My pockets are empty just like everyone in the seats.

  3. Steve Newell says:

    When I read this, I realize all far I fall short of this. When I look to the Cross, I see how perfect Christ lived this. Even on the Cross, Christ forgave those who did this to him.

  4. That was a great word of law.

    And the question that ought be asked of everyone when the word of law is handed over is…”How are you doing?”

    So many Christians say, “not too bad”, or “I’m getting better”, or “well, nobody’s perfect”, or “at least I’m better than Fred over there”…

    wrong answers.

    The law is meant to kill us off to the thought that we can do these things in the way they need to be done. They are meant to drive us to despair in ourselves and our ability to be virtuous in an unvirtuous world.

    BUT…then the gospel is handed over and the new life begins again. You are loved. You are forgiven. And it has nothing to do with you. But what Christ Jesus has done for you.

    Hello?… Is this thing on?

  5. Interesting….I wish I could somehow believe in God again. I just have too many questions and am overwhelmed in doubt. I like the last line, I have no problem with being a sinner – I know that I am. However I learned that the church is not for sinners…this is part of why I left Christinaity and threw it away. I just feel stuck and can’t quite move on, my past experiences were tarnished in first Mormonism and then evangelcialism. “If” heaven’s rain falls on everyone I’m ready for it, but I can’t stomach getting burned a third time in faith.

    • Eagle, if you’re looking for the perfect church, it doesn’t exist. They’re all made of humans, and really broken humans at that. And that’s where Christ does his best work – right in the center of the mess – both yours and mine. We put our faith in Christ and not in Christians for a reason. Believe it or not, it sounds like you’re in a holy place. All the best for your journey.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And I think you’re right at the most intense point of the “Take Your God And Shove It” reaction to all those times you got burned. At that point, all you can do is wait and heal over time, and the Conventional Christian reaction to your reaction just interrupts that process.

    • If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end on certainties ~ Francis Bacon

  6. I love Eugene Peterson’s rendering of this part of St. Matthew’s Gospel. The call to love generously, to all who we come into contact with is a challenging word for Christians to actually live out. God only knows how much help I need from Him to live this out in my own life.

    Loving these little pieces of poetry you are putting out each Sunday CM. Makes for a wonderful start to my working week when I read them on Monday morning Australian time (i.e. Sunday evening USA time) as I head to work on the train.

  7. All the things in the world that challenge you are there to test you resolve. If someone cuts you off we want to get mad and cuss them out but that is the time when the lord should be working in you to turn the cheek and refrain from the outburst. It is during the bad or difficult times that we grow.