Paid back with interest....


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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dear Friends:

“Do to others what you would want them to do to you; this sums up the law…”

Interesting to note that when Jesus spoke these words He did not refer to specific laws, but rather the purpose  of the law. God gave the Hebrews laws on how to treat each other as a guideline for how to think about their interaction with others.  Obviously if you love someone, you don’t kill them, steal from them, lie to them, act unfaithfully, etc.  But Jesus explained what God is really looking for: Not strict adherence to a list of “do’s and don’ts”, but rather a way of seeing the other person.

Do I really want to be treated like I treat others?  If I am to get reimbursed for the manner I interact with others, I am probably thinking about those that I have been compassionate with, supported, sheltered, etc.  But Jesus is quite clear about this: His evaluation of my walk is not upon how I treat the “lovely” in my life, but how I treat the unlovely.  What He is telling me is to treat the bad people that I come across like  I want to be treated. I am called, as as a redeemed one, to treat those that cheat me, abuse me, disenfranchise me, ignore me and sneer at me as I want to be treated that I have cheated, disenfranchised, ignored and sneered at!  And that’s the rub.  I can play nice with those that play nice with me, but to be kind and gracious to those that I really do not respect or like requires something that is quite unnatural to me…and I find that I am not up to the task.

That’s the place, of course, where Christ within me steps in. How can a man or woman endure unkindness and indifference and then obey the law and love those same ones as they love their own selves?  For me, at least, it’s just not possible without the divine intervention of He who loved me—an unlovely, ill-mannered, clumsy young man.  And yet, He called me worthy and beloved!  Yes, if I bask in the light of His love and lean on the well-spring of love that flows from the the Holy Comforter I can fulfill the law and truly love the other. But apart from Him I am a clanging bell.

How do I want to be treated tomorrow at the U.S. Passport office in Atlanta, or at the check in counter at American Airlines, or at the train station in Paris, or the hotel in Lille? Christ would tell me to expect the same that I would be willing to give!  I have learned that we can expect to receive back what we plant, in abundance, while we are on this earth. If I am kind and forgiving, I tend to get more kindness and forgiveness back than I deserve. But if I am rude, selfish, a boor or uncharitable, I can expect the back with interest.

 

Warmly,

 

Dean Barley

 


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