What's Up With That?
In the fifth grade I had a crush on a girl in my class and in our standard way of communicating I wrote her a note on Valentine's Day and had it passed to her by a friend. The note read something this: "I like you and I think you are cute. Will you be my girlfriend? Signed David Warren (I did that to make sure she knew which David it was). P.S. - Please write me back and give it to my friend with your reply." As you can tell I was a real Casanova in my early days..... NOT! So my friend gives her the note and I secretly watch her read it so I could see the expression on her face. But her face was basically without any expression. Hmmm. I wonder what her note to me will say. I mean I was really throwing myself out there in writing that note, but I weighed the results and felt it was worth it because she was really cute. So the next day my friend comes up to me and says "I've got her reply!" I took the note from him and got by myself and built up my courage and opened it and read it. Her note in reply to my note went something like this: " I like you and think you are cute too. But (oh I hate the but). I just want to be your friend and I think us becoming boyfriend and girlfriend would hurt our friendship. I just want to be friends." Oh.... I tried to put a good spin on it for my ego, but I was crushed!! And then to finish me off I heard two days later she became the girlfriend of one of my biggest rivals. "What's up with that?"
Of course, word got out as it always does and numerous classmates came up to me and said they were sorry she didn't become my girlfriend. To which I replied "That's ok. I didn't really like her that much anyway!" Wow. Things sure changed quickly and so it is with love. In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus gives us a lifestyle for loving others including our enemies and the verses are listed below.
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you. 32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. 35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
Jesus opens up verse 27 with a curious intro. "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!" It is important to note that Jesus is speaking about this subject right after affirming that we will face opposition because of following Him and how blessed we are for having that opposition, but Jesus goes a step further by establishing how we respond to that opposition. Rejection is a real thing and the response to it deals more with our pride than anything else. When my love interest rejected being my girlfriend it hit me in my pride more than anywhere else. Jesus calls us to put away our pride and follow His words. Basically Jesus is saying "sell out" to His way of living a life. Or another way of putting it is do what Jesus would do and what they were seeing Him do as they walked with Him.
In our world we see the need to get revenge as a way of life and that revenge desire can hold true for hundreds of years, but Jesus commands us to not entertain that kind of attitude for even a moment. Jesus had the attitude of serving in love in everything He said and we must have this same attitude, or as Jesus says "if we are wiling to listen."
The Apostle Paul spoke to this subject in a little different way in Romans 12 where he says 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! 17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,I will take revenge; I will pay them back,”says the Lord. 20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads." 21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Paul seems to be addressing revenge specifically, so his vantage point is a little different than Jesus because Jesus leaves it to giving love only without trying to get ashes heaped on anybody's head. Paul also brings out that God will fight our battles for us, so let Him be the one who does the ash throwing, which takes it away from this being anything from us and for us. So the attitude Jesus set for us and told us to have is the "core" principle of loving your enemies and we cannot distort that into some kind of "spiritual revenge" to make us come out on top. In Jesus thinking the bottom is the top per this Word he shares in Matthew 20:16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” To which I sometimes have to say "What's Up with that?" The reason I say that is because it is beyond human reasoning and moves into an area of reasoning only provided by a close relationship with the one who said it, Jesus.
So bending over backwards to love your enemies is the right thing to do. The right way to be per the Words of Jesus himself. Keep in mind we were enemies of God because of the sin in our lives and in reality we were in the crowd yelling "crucify Him" so Jesus shows us personally that if we can be forgiven, we can also forgive our enemies. That is "What's Up With That!" At our core we are forgiven and loved enemies who have been made right by the one who gave it all up to make us right with God. Once again, His name is Jesus Christ and He is a life-changer if we are willing to listen to His words and see the world from His perspective.
In Jesus' love letter to us we have the choice to continue to draw closer in this relationship and take it to the next level or send a note back and say "I just want to be your friend Jesus" because the next level of our relationship might draw me too close to you and I don't know I am ready for that kind of relationship with you. If. you refuse that kind of deeper relationship I would have to say "What's Up With That?"
The Pilgrimage continues.....