Will we live
Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd playing Jake and Elwood Blues had just been released from prison. They went back to visit the orphanage in which they were raised. They find out that creditors are about to foreclose on the orphanage. Suddenly, the understood the big thing they had to do. They were going to pay off the debt. Their oft repeated statement of purpose was: â€œWeâ€™re on a mission from God.â€
Paul was certainly on a mission from God. Yet, he says something very odd â€“ especially on point for us in this day and age â€“ give no offense. Many people tend to think (by our failure to live like Jesus) that giving offense is what the Church is all about!
Paul was focusing on the difference between insignificant matters, small â€˜tâ€™ traditions and practices and the essentials of faith. Donâ€™t quibble, donâ€™t focus on the small things, donâ€™t create offense for anyone over small things. Rather, come together in unity on the big things, the essentials. In doing that, show off Jesus. Set an example of humility. Shine forth like Jesus â€“ be like Him. Open the door to all in need of the big healing, big peace, big confidence, and big security only Jesus can give.
Think of what Jesus taught about the things that are key. Two things only. Two commandments. Love God, love each other. Any minor issues there, anything insignificant? Not at all.
Paulâ€™s experience helped him to really understand what Jesus taught. Paul often focused on the greatness of the mercy that was shown to him. Paul saw and experienced, in a flash of blinding light, what Jesus focused on. It was never the small. Paul had been focused, in his pharisaical ways, on minutia. It his encounter with Jesus, Paul saw where he fell short in understanding. He finally got Godâ€™s big mercy. What counts is that God wipes out our small and the big mess of sins â€“ our failure to love God and to share in that love as an act of love â€“ so we can start anew.
If barriers are raised to our neighbors, by arrogance, being bound to the small and insignificant, then the path to Jesusâ€™ big mercy is blocked.
As we begin our Pre-Lenten preparation, let us consider how we may remove any block on the way to Jesus. Are we opening the path to mercy? How will we live? What mission from God are we on? Who will we be imitators of?
Jesus healed the leper, and he couldnâ€™t stand not to tell of the big mercy he received. …he went out and began to talk freely about [Jesus] and the people came to Him from every quarter.