Matthew 5:43-48The Message (MSG)
43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
This is what makes Jesus a radical. He calls us to a radical love. A love that is not easy, but actually can be quite difficult. Just because it is difficult and hard to understand doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. If we are looking for excuses to dehumanize people, I think we are finding excuses to live in sin. We are called to love all and embody the grace of Jesus, no matter what may come at us, and maybe especially if persecution comes. The early church grew in massive numbers and power when they were under a greater persecution than anything we can even imagine. Are we so busy crying that things are unfair that we miss the opportunity to love those that don’t look, act, or believe like we do? We need to bring a revolution of love and grace back to the church. And this doesn’t mean we shy away from hard conversations, but that we actually embrace them because it is the loving thing to do, but we always always always start with love and relationship before anything else.
Dear Parent of my students,
Your words matter. Your actions matter. You may not notice or feel like your child is listening but they are. They notice when you are there, and when you are busy. They notice when you are looking at your phone more than you are looking at them. They notice when you speak and don’t follow through. They notice when you speak harshly out of anger. They notice when you make up excuses not to go to church or that event of theirs. They may give you grace and shrug it off like no big deal, but they do. You are just too busy to know it.
When you discipline out of anger. When you are short. When you speak over them. When you watch Netflix more than you watch them. When you don’t notice they are imitating you. They are watching. They are soaking it up. They are learning how to treat their future children. They are learning how to treat their future spouse. They are growing more and faster than you think, and you are spending more time worrying about the moment and not realizing how much of an impact you are making for their future and their future baggage.
My friends- be intentional. Be you. Raise the kids you want to be friends with in the future. Yes, this is entirely written to myself as a reminder of who I want to be, but fail to be as a parent. Let’s take this journey together and be better parents, because it matters.
“If I only change one life in this world, God, please let it be my own.” –Anne Marie Miller
I read that quote this morning from Anne Miller’s Facebook Page.
Isn’t it so true though. I am committed to this idea of changing the world, or at least I think I am. I want to see that done through the changing of individual lives. The only reason I know the world needs changing is because I know my life needs changing. I’m not naturally inclined to be a great husband, father, brother, son, or man. I have to constantly course correct and get back on the direction I want to be headed. I know that my life story has been impacted by the narrative of others, and I know that if I continue to adjust my path, then my story will make an impact on others. I’m hopeful that my life story of constantly being changed and developed will bring inspiration to those around me. All of this means constantly learning, growing, and changing because I need it. I’m not good enough to say I’ve arrived or I’m good enough. I never will be, and neither will you. This is why we must constantly be changing. Thanks for that quote Anne, it was a great reminder to me this morning.
“The Christian leader need not fear that care of the flock of God will be too heavy a burden. By God’s invitation, the leader can transfer the weight of spiritual burdens onto shoulders bigger, stronger, broader, and durable. God cares for you. Let worries go.”¹
Often times we get so worried of the weight and intimidation of ministry that we never step out. I think God is calling us to step out, dressed in humility, and trust him for something bigger. What areas do you need to step out in? What has God called you to do that you have yet to do, because you fear what might happen? When we step out in ministry it’s not really about us. It’s about God. When we step out to do God’s work, he provides a way. We need only take the step of obedience. The rest is up to him. No that is not an excuse to be lazy or not prepared, it’s a level of trust we get to have that God is in the work of reconciliation, and merely needs us as farmers to the land. Will you step out with me?
- Sanders, J. Oswald. Spiritual Leadership. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.
“The great leaders make people better, kinder, nobler than they would otherwise be.”¹
“Acknowledge the evil men do, but stay focused on the good that is in our power to do. Only thus do we raise the moral sights of humankind and help redeem the world we share.”²
I often call myself a leader. Of course it is part of my job, but I’m realizing more and more that we can all be leaders. Employers are leaders. Pastors are leaders. Writers are leaders. Moms are leaders. Dads are leaders. Older siblings are leaders. We almost all have some sort of leadership capacity. Especially if we dumb leadership down to the most simple form which is that, “leadership is influence”.³
The question I ask today though, how are you using that influence? Are we leveraging that influence to make an impact in the lives of those around us? Or are we just trying to accomplish a job. Are the people around you better human beings because of how you’ve lead them? Or are they just getting financial gain. How are we raising the moral sights of humankind? How are we setting an example? How do we make a difference? Do people feel energy when we walk into the room? Or do they try to put their head down to avoid eye contact? These things can be telling about your influence and leadership in the lives of those around you. Leaders aren’t only the positive ones, but the positive ones are the leaders worth following.
- Sacks, Jonathan (2015-09-07). Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible (Kindle Locations 3896-3897). The Toby Press. Kindle Edition.
- Ibid. (Kindle Locations 3892-3893).
- I believe I heard this first from a John Maxwell book, or Andy Stanley at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta.
“We need to understand both celebration and suffering to fully grasp shalom (Deep seeded wholeness and peace). Our understanding of Jesus requires that we understand the suffering of Jesus (the crucifixion) as well as the celebration of Jesus (the resurrection).” -Soon Chan Rah
“The joy that emanates from suffering reflects great hope and inspiration expressed by the entire community.” -Rah
We must learn to understand and speak of suffering and celebration. The message of Jesus is not a message of mere celebration. There was tremendous suffering, and we must recognize the cost that was paid. We must recognize the suffering of others and see how they identify with Jesus. We must focus on the celebration that comes when Jesus rose from the dead. We cannot forget where we were before Jesus. We cannot forget the suffering we’ve been through. Jesus wept. Jesus suffered. We weep. We suffer. Jesus rose again, therefore we get to celebrate together. We cannot ignore both, we need both. We must have a theology of suffering and celebration, not just one or the other. Do you suffer well?