The way of life.
â€œFor 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.”
Thank you for joining as we testify, proclaim, and evangelize the great and Holy Name of Jesus.
Today we continue in this Pre-Lenten season.
Last week we considered choices, the fact that the hot stoves of sin are everywhere and so often seem like fun. Jesusâ€™ way seems so different, so odd, and so hard. No one does that, do they?
We resolved to take this Pre-Lenten opportunity to identify the stoves in our lives, those areas of disaster we reach out to, the ways we fail to represent Jesusâ€™ gospel way. We reminded ourselves of what will happen if we do not stop reaching for those hot stoves of sin and destruction and determined to prepare ourselves for eliminating them this Lent, to live the way Jesus asks us to live.
Today we continue in our study of Jesusâ€™ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus continues to ask us to live His Fatherâ€™s commandments in their fullness. Thou shalt not kill is not just about physical murder, but about any hardship or rejection we would bring upon another, even if only in our thoughts. If we hold ourselves back and away when another in in need, we kill. It may not seem at all bloody to us, but it is â€“ emotionally, spiritually, psychologically.
But, what if someone is mean to me, what if they are hurting me? Jesusâ€™ instruction seems clear â€“ turn the other cheek. Seems hard, but simple. What we miss is the way we act is a sort of dam against sin. We, my brothers and sisters, have power to thwart sin, to turn the tide of sin. If we respond to harm, meanness, rejection, anger, and so many other evils in kind we are just perpetuating evil, fostering more sin. But if we act as Jesus asks, we stop that sin right there. We break the chain of sin.
So often in the Christian life it seems we are making no headway, we arenâ€™t changing anything. What we tend to miss is the downstream effect of our faithfulness. Our impact is huge if we turn the other cheek, if we hand over more than demanded of us, if we go the extra mile, if we give to those who ask â€“ perfect examples our work with CarePortal and Operation SouperBowl.
Jesus demands a lot of us. He asks us for perfection in our gospel walk, to be real kingdom dwellers who live so very differently from the way of the world.
There are consequences to our choices, to choosing the hot stove or the gospel, to reflecting the world and its ruler or to reflecting our Heavenly Father. Those consequences have impact not only here in the present world but also throughout eternity.
As we continue in this Pre-Lenten time of reflection and preparation let us not just consider choices but also consequences. How we live now, how close the world grows toward the kingdom we are supposed to be building, and how we live in eternity depends on the here and now.