I want to talk with you about making sense out of the tough sayings in the Bible, in particular the commandments Jesus gives us that are tough to keep. When I run into a commandment like, “Give to all who beg from you,” or “Pray for your enemies,” I typically have one of three reactions. My first reaction is to try to tame Jesus and what he is saying. I’ll say to myself he didn’t really mean give to all who beg from you; after all, he didn’t have telephones or mail systems yet. Do you ever find yourself compromising what Jesus is trying to teach us about God and our lives?
A second reaction I find myself doing is selective hearing. I put more emphasis on the commandments that I’m keeping patting myself on the back, but ignoring the “weightier matters of the law.” I can get quite good at not hearing Scripture even when it’s screaming at me to change my life or lifestyle to better reflect the love of God in Jesus.
What are we to do? Do we continue on or do we dare to trust God and strive to change our pattern? Do we dare to respond different to the good news that God loves us and only wants good things for us?
On a good day, our best reaction to the tough sayings in the Bible is to trust God and move forward in faith. We remember that Jesus cheers us on. Jesus is our coach, guide, and shepherd. He knows we are a work in progress. So we dare to pray for our enemies and treat them well even when they treat us bad. Why? Because we trust God to be working in them as well as in us. We can trust God will work to transform them or move them onto the fringe of our lives. We trust God to fight our battles. We stand upon God. We rest in faith. We maintain peace because of who God is in our lives.
The tough commands of Jesus are opportunities to put our faith in practice. May God bless you in the practice of faith.