Monday, February 15, 2021

The Extra Mile

Going beyond.  It really is what the entire Sermon on the Mount is all about.  Jesus repeatedly uses this phrase "The law says ___ but I say ___ ."  What do you think this means?  I meet people every day that say things like "I'm an Old Testament Christian!"  It is difficult to even find a jumping off point to appeal to theological logic when I hear this!  Jesus came to fulfill and complete the law (also from the Sermon on the Mount).  But I will just leave my argument on this point here ... do you think that if you want to know the true application of the law, you might ask the Son of God who was present when the law was handed down and present with the crowd gathered to hear his preaching.  Are WE gathered to hear and follow His preaching?  I hope so!

That brings us to a simple passage.  Matthew 5:41, "If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles!"  Counter intuitive, isn't it?  Contra to our human reaction, isn't it?  Different than what you want to do, isn't it?

Here are some truths from this troubling passage:

1.  Make good out of bad -  God has been doing this for a long time.  God took the persecution and hurtfulness of Joseph's brothers, and made it into a great good!  Joseph saved his people, his brothers included.  Joseph forgave.  Joseph saw past his oppression and allowed God to do something great!

2.  Submit to authority - We really hate this phrase right now.  Jeremiah told his people to fight, complain and draw swords if they wanted to ... but they would not have any success opposing what God was allowing to take place.  The soldier's demand was unfair and unreasonable.  We (and I am sure the people of Jesus' time) hate to be told what to do.  We hate to lose our right to choose.  We get bent out of shape when we are told anything!  But ... here is that passage, clear as a bell!  Paul said, in Romans 12:21 "Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  Maybe overcoming evil with good entails putting our pride and our self-righteousness on the shelf and doing something good, in spite of whether it is appreciated or not.  I have had to learn this as I have helped (personally and through the church) people who discard the church with a wave of their hand, even when that help was both significant and life-changing.  But, we help anyway because it is who we are and who God is.

3.  Jesus' way is right, even if it rubs us the wrong way - I have had many friends complain that our society is all caught up in conditional truth, situational ethics and a non-Biblical worldview.  The same people argue over this passage and other non-reactionary things said by Jesus (especially in the Sermon on the Mount).  But I am sticking with my point above ... Jesus is right and we (me included) are wrong.  If we followed my "Old Testament Christians" who say "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" we would (as Gandhi said) all be one-eyed and toothless.  So I will try to grit my teeth and carry those bags that extra mile.

In the end (and God is totally in control of that end), God is right.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the way to life.  If you believe that I have some advice ... listen to Him.  Nuff said!  Randy

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