Sunday, March 1, 2015

Way of the Master

Many of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth were in fact not new when he introduced them to the inhabitants of Israel between 29-33 AD. The Buddha had taught some of them, Confucius had taught the golden rule, and many other teachings of Jesus perhaps had been taught before his 3 year ministry. However, there is one teaching of Jesus that has always held me in awe of him. In the Sermon on the Mount he said:

"You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;

So that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike." (Matthew 5: 43-45)

Here the Son of Man is making his break with the Law of Moses. Moses had taught the children "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth), in other words justice was all the law of Moses was truly concerned with. Jesus, who had come down from Heaven to give mankind celestial law and glory, required more. He was teaching that God himself is not only just, but merciful. His example of the rain and the son could not be more profound. No matter whether people are good or bad, the sun rises and the rain comes. In like manner, God loves all of his children (although not their actions per se) and there is nothing that man can do to earn that love or to lose it.

The idea of loving your enemy is as difficult today as it was in the time that the Master himself walked the Earth. But because he was our example in all things, he showed us the way to do it. At his unjust arrest, what did he do? He healed a man and went quietly, speaking no evil of his captors (Luke 22:51-53) What did he say on the cross? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34) Can we do the same?

For all those who call themselves Christians (which as Friedrich Nietzsche said is a mistake in itself; Jesus is the only Christian) ask yourself: Do I truly love my enemies? Am I able to forgive and forget? Am I willing to help those who harm and wish harm upon me? If the answer is yes, then you are on the path to true discipleship.  If the answer is no, repent, change your ways, and pick up your cross and follow the in the way of the Master.

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