This wont be long, because I’m pretty worn out from a long day of traveling…returning from our vacation in Minnesota. But I was doing my devotions before I went to bed and I have been reading through the New Testament in The Message. I just started so im only in the first few chapters of Matthew. Today I read the end of chapter 5. The last verse is what stood out to me: Matthew 5:48.
“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.”
Hmm. Grow up. Ouch. Now thats harsh! The last few verses of Matthew 5 are discussing a Christian’s actions of love towards others. Everyone in that time knew the written law “love your neighbor” and the unwritten counterpart “hate your enemy.” But Jesus says no, no, no. He raises a challenge. As I just read Matthew Paul Turner write in his book “Provocative Faith,” I believe that Jesus might have had a tinge of sarcasm in his voice when he said “How hard can it be to love those who love you? Even the tax collectors can love their friends! I urge you to love those who hate you! Love your enemies. Love those who have wronged you, hurt you, cheated you out of a minute of happiness. THOSE are the ones I call you to love.” Jesus points out that God loves ALL people, and we are to do the same. He states that God gives sun to warm and rain to nourish ALL people…the good ones and bad ones, the nice and the nasty. We are to do the same.
After all that said, Jesus tells us to grow up. I have a feeling in his head he wanted to say “Alright, you’ve heard my challenge. Now grow up. I never asked you for a list of reasons of why that person is unloveable, I never asked for you to explain why they dont deserve an ounce of your love, I never asked you to point out their sins or mistakes or moments of inequality towards you. I simply said LOVE.”
I love it how Jesus calls us kingdom subjects. We are apart of his kingdom…apart of a bigger picture and a bigger plan…and we’re expected to live at a higher standard because of that. He says to live out our God given identities. I think thats pretty cool. Our identity is in God…nothing else. Not in how great we are, our position at work, who our significant other is, not by what we can do or who we associate ourselves with….no, our identity is in God. And its time that we act like it. The ever-popular song states “They will know we are Christians by our love.” ….So will they?