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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lent 2016--Day Seventeen

At the tax collector
At the tax collector (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those whopersecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect,therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus speaks about love in more depth than we usually do. He gives examples that seem extreme to us. Loving enemies is kind of over the top. It's easy enough to love those who are our family members, but if that's all we do, our love doesn't cost us much. We love them anyway. God calls us to love beyond the easy steps, to go the extra mile. He does it and he wants us to follow his example. 

But really, love the tax collector? Love the criminal? Love the mean child? Yes, the one that bit my son. God looks at this love as a challenge to our normal way of behaving. It could be easy. If I just had to love the people at Church, and the kids on our team, and the nice people I work with, I'd be very loving and generous. But does he really want me to love those other people that look down their noses at me and insult me on the bus. 

What's so great about being perfect, anyway?