Saturday, August 27, 2005
DREAMERS BY KEITH GILES
Recently, I was confronted with the sad reality that we Christians are no different than those in the world around us. I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised, really. I mean, we eat the same foods, we wear the same clothes, go to the same movies, we are prone to the same sins.
I suppose I just hoped for more. Unrealistic? Maybe. But, I guess I’m still a bit of a dreamer.
You’ve heard it before. When an unbeliever first comes to the saving knowledge of Christ, they are all excited and “on fire”. How long is it before someone says, “Oh, give him or her a few months and they’ll get over it. You can’t keep that up forever.” Maybe it was you who even said that. Or if not, I’m sure you at least thought it.
Why do we encourage those who are babes in Christ to calm down and join the rank and file of the “frozen chosen”? Is it because they make us look like we’re not as happy as we should be? As we wish we were?
Imagine, instead, a world where we didn’t have to lose that excitement, a world where every second of every day we were close to tears when we considered our own sin. A world where every single Christian actually loved every person they met, and even went out of their way to show that same love and forgiveness that Christ had shown them.
I imagine that, in a world like this, that those who were unbelievers might even take notice. They might even be touched by such sincere love and generosity. They might even be curious about what was making these people behave in such an unorthodox manner.
On a grander scale, such a great display of love and forgiveness might even turn into the latest nightly news topic. I can almost see it now:
Local news helicopters hovering over a crowded interstate, wreckage strewn across the shoulder at the scene of a horrific pile-up…and there, over in the corner of your TV screen…why, it’s one of those Christians again!
It looks as if he’s risking his life to save that person in the burning car…and in other news, more Christians converged on an orphanage downtown to give homes to hundreds of lonely children…and the local Hospitals and Nursing Homes have had to extend visiting hours to make room for all of the believers who have crowded the hallways to visit the sick and the dying,
I suppose I am just a dreamer, after all. Because my local news doesn’t look like that. I imagine yours doesn’t either.
But I guess it’s just as well, I mean, who would expect us to live such an extravagant life of giving and love? Can you think of anyone who would actually expect us Christians to really act like that?
I’ve always been challenged by Jesus command in Luke 6:27. You know, it’s the verse where he tells his followers, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” (NIV)
Those are potent words. They are challenging. They are impossible words.
But, Jesus asks us to do the impossible for a reason. He goes on to say,
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:32- NIV)
Jesus actually expects his disciples to do the impossible:
To love in the face of hate.
To give even to those who steal from them.
To stand silent, even when attacked.
To do good, even to those who delight in doing evil.
Jesus asks us to give to everyone who asks. Without qualification.
Jesus expects us to chase after the guy who just stole our television just so we can let him know, “Hey, you forgot the DVD player!”
Why does Jesus ask us to do these unbelievable things? Because we’re supposed to be “called out” and “set apart” from the rest of the world. (This is the meaning of Sanctification).
But, this “being separate” isn’t so that we can look down on others. It’s not because “We’re Special”.
It’s actually so that we can show those who aren’t aware of the kindness of God what it really means to be loved, forgiven and shown mercy.
Yes, Jesus expects us to actually do these things.
Yes, it will hurt.
Yes, this is how the lost can know that God loves them, Christianity is the “real thing” and forgiveness is for them.
There’s nothing remarkable about the kind of love that the world has.
The purpose of suffering in this way is so that we can demonstrate the true, life-changing love of Christ to the world.
Imagine a world where we all actually did this stuff on a daily basis.
Would it change the world?
Would it change the world’s idea of Christianity? Of Christ?
Would it set the teachings of Jesus apart from every single other religious figure who had ever lived?
I find it amazing that the most radical thing a modern Christian could possibly do today is to simply do exactly what Jesus tells us to do in Luke 6:26.
How often do we pray for those who hate the church? Jesus view of love is somehow radically different from the culture's view of love. This kind of love involves denying oneself to the point of being continually exposed to abuse.
Jesus expected us to love with a purpose. To change the world with love.
So, my dearest wish for you, and for myself, is that we might all have the worst week of our lives. That we might start to see our difficulties as opportunities to show the world what real love is really all about.
I am a dreamer. Maybe you’re a dreamer too. Maybe it’s time that more of us woke up from this dream and started to live it out in reality?