Thursday, January 25, 2007

Questions Jesus Asked (2) – Love & Kindness

We find Jesus’ next questions at the end of Matthew 5 in verses 46 and 47:

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?
If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?

Okay, Jesus is going right to the “heart” of the matter here. One of the things that bothers me is the reputation the church has as being full of hypocrites. I think it bothers me because I know I’m in church – and I know I’m a hypocrite – so I know they’re right.

I’ve often used the reply – but there are hypocrites everywhere, so take a look in the mirror. But, I think this is the response that Jesus knew we “Christians” would have and He points out that we ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFERENT!

Sure, I know that most Christians admit that we know we’re not perfect and we don’t attempt to take on the perfection label. But is that it? Does that make our hypocrisy okay?

Another typical Christian response is – well not all of the people in church are really Christians. I agree, but I’ve also spent enough time in churches to know that those I would strongly suspect are Christians are just as bad as the others. In fact, why do non-Christians at church continue to act like they have always acted? Because the “Christians” in the church continue to act like they’ve always acted.

Before I move into a full-on rant, let me express to all of you who maybe have the “been-there-done-that-don’t-need-that-anymore” view of church, I would like to say (and encourage you to consider) that churches are also filled with people who DO “get it” and who do truly care about others – not just their friends, but everyone with whom they come in contact. And, the truth is, the closer any one of us is willing to come to Christ the more we learn how to see others differently. To love and be kind to all people, not just our friends.

Do we do this perfectly? No, far from it, and we need to be willing to throw our hand up in their air and admit when we blow it. But if all of us would consider Jesus’ questions here at the end of Matthew, I think we would find a challenge worth taking. How do we learn to care about those we don’t click with? How do we find ourselves looking to put other’s needs before our own?

Well, it does not come easily. In fact, unless we are first willing to surrender our agendas over to Christ, I’m not sure this is really possible at all. But as we learn that we do not naturally care about others who are not close to us (and sometimes even those who are close to us), we can also discover that we have been created for relationships and that while it’s true there’s risk involved with loving – the alternative is to be love-less – and that’s just a miserable existence, not the life we were created to live!

So, why not take a look in the mirror. How do these questions from Jesus hit you? Can you find ways to see people differently? Can you learn to love … everyone?

I’ve got the paddle next to you in the same boat – but I always love a challenge :-).

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