It’s really easy for pastors to preach the law – to talk about how crappy we are and how we’ve screwed up everything and that God is ticked off at us.
It’s really easy to look at the current state of politics in this nation and be really cynical. I’m guilty of that. It’s easy to bemoan the rampant disrespect there is for others. It’s easy to point out the anger, fear, and corruption that goes on in politics.
It’s really easy to get frustrated with one’s own health – that we don’t get enough sleep, that we have trouble losing those extra pounds, that we eat unhealthy food, that we don’t move enough.
It’s really easy to wail and gnash our teeth when we see people being treated like and called animals or worse. It’s really easy to get upset when people are judgemental and arrogant and dismissive of others.
It’s really easy to get angry over being lied to by individuals, leaders, companies, family members, etc.
It’s really easy to retaliate when someone either wrongs us or we perceive we have been wronged – whether it’s on the road, in the workplace, in our private lives, at the grocery store, the airport, or walking down the street. It’s easy to respond to violence done to us or ones we love with our violence. We are really good at rationalizing violence in response to violence.
It’s really easy to walk or drive past the homeless person holding the sign looking for help or to dismiss the beggar on the street corner or the person who comes to the church door looking for help. It’s really easy to not make eye contact with someone in need.
It’s really easy to walk in the way the world has taught us to live for centuries. It’s really easy to believe that might makes right and that the ends justify the means. It’s really easy to believe that people get what they deserve. It’s really easy to believe in a wrathful God who hates this group of people or that group of people, but wraps himself in the flag. It’s really easy to cheer the destruction of enemies. It’s really easy to resort to violence – whether it be physical, mental, verbal, emotional, or any other type you can think of. It’s really easy to devalue and dismiss people who don’t like and would rather not deal with.
You know what’s not easy? Following Jesus.
It’s not easy to love your enemies. Not just saying that you love your enemies, but actually doing it. Actually being vulnerable enough to love the people you hate and that most likely hate you. To actually love the people who may very well kill you if given the chance.
It’s not easy to be a peacemaker. That doesn’t mean that peace only exists in the absence of conflict. Jesus created conflict often, but was a peacemaker too. What I’m talking about is that peace means not ignoring the elephant in the room even if it is uncomfortable. Peace isn’t being a push over. It’s being daring enough to say we need to deal with reality, not shun it away and maintain a false sense of peace.
It’s not easy to forgive. We would rather blame and scapegoat. Those feel so much better to us. We feel justified. But offering forgiveness, whether it is deserved or not, is what we are called it. Forgiveness isn’t so much about the other person as it is about letting go of the other person controlling how we feel.
It’s not easy to offer grace and mercy. Grace and mercy aren’t weak things. It takes a strong person to be merciful and full of grace.
It’s not easy.
Thankfully we have a great example of someone who has done these difficult things – Jesus. We don’t deserve to be loved, to live in peace, to be forgiven, to receive grace and mercy – yet that’s exactly what God gives to each one of us, in spite of not deserving it. And God calls on us to turn around and give these to others – in spite of the face that others don’t deserve it.
We have a choice in how we live. Are we going to follow the popular examples of people, even prominent figures in our culture, who foment fear and anger, who believe that the ends justify the means? Or are we going to follow Jesus – who confronted the realities that we exist in with love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy?
Who do we follow?
Show me how you interact with others and I’ll know the answer without you telling me. I hope you can say the same for me.