The interpretations of Jesus’ message that we hear and see from all parts of the Christian spectrum often are more conflicting than enlightening. Is this really what Jesus expects of me? Is this how I should live? How is this different from any other way of life? Is what we hear or discuss reflecting Jesus or ourselves? We may have to admit that after all we have heard, learned and say we believe, as Christians, we still do not understand that Jesus calls us to a new way of life.
Send us, Lord, the Spirit of understanding.
Read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. Who is the Jesus you meet there? How does his message compare with what we see and hear in the various Christian communities? What’s the challenge?
Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me ?
You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: who makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans do the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? Do not even the publicans do so? Be perfect therefore, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:45 – 48
Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old.
I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I never read in either of them: “Come to me all you that labor and are heavy laden.”
Jesus is God spelling Himself out in language we can understand.
Our problem is this: we usually discover him within some denominational or Christian ghetto. We meet him in a province and, having caught some little view, we paint him in smaller strokes. The Lion of Judah is reduced to something kittenish because our understanding cannot, at first, write larger definitions.
People talk about imitating Christ, and imitate Him in the little trifling formal things, such as washing the feet, saying His prayer, and so on; but if anyone attempts the real imitation of Him, there are no bounds to the outcry with which the presumption of that person is condemned.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Christians tell me that they love their enemies, and yet all I ask is—not that they love their enemies, not that they love their friends even, but that they treat those who differ from them, with simple fairness.
Robert G. Ingersoll