Friday, May 9, 2014

I Want To Be Accused Of Being An Imitator

If you want to be extraordinary, love your enemies. If you want to be like Jesus, love your enemies. If you want to be called children of Father, love your enemies. If you truly want to belong to Jesus, to walk in his footsteps, to be everything he has called you to be, allowing the Spirit to work through you, then you must be determined to obey Jesus' commands and to do what he did. Jesus said:

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return ... (Luke 6:25a) 

You see, being a Christian is not a tradition that is handed down to you by your family. It is not a philosophy of living. It is not "pie in the sky" that ushers in utopia on this earth. It is a transformation that moves us to a place of extravagant love expressed through strong action. It is the denying of self for the purpose of promoting the welfare of others. It is an impossibility to manufacture in ourselves. It is far beyond the reach of our limited abilities but nothing is impossible for Yahweh.

The Word tells us what the Holy Spirit is doing in and through us. Our limited capacity is changed, walls come tumbling down, limitations are removed and we are filled with Father's capacity to love. That is what Jesus told us:

... your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. (v. 25b)

We will be transformed so that we will love like Daddy loves because we will take on his character. Every child takes on some of the behavioural characteristics of his parents. This is not passed on by genetics but is learned behaviour. The Spirit gives us new capacity through the transformation but it is only by observing Father (through the Son) that we learn what is expected of us. Love your enemies, do good without restraints. Don't hold back because of your thinking and prejudices. Don't allow personal feelings to get in the way of Father's extravagance in love. What does that look like?

If you want to know what Father's love looks like and how it has impacted us, look no further than the gift of himself through the Son, Jesus. He laid it all out for us, walking through the experience of torture so he could reach the goal of the sacrificial lamb, lifted high upon a cross. We can't even begin to describe such extravagance, but is the same unrelenting love we are to give to our enemies. Are you there yet?

Most likely most of us reading and writing these words are not near to being there yet. We live in a culture where you are more important than your neighbour. We live in a culture that holds up justice for the individual, as long as that individual is not in his mother's womb. We believe the individual is so important that we will stomp all over the rights of others just to lift up that one person. We fight for the equality of one group at the cost of inequality for all the others. The problem is, we all want to be that individual; we all want to be that special group; we want all the attention focused on us. This makes it hard for us to relate to "love your enemies". Nonetheless, it is what Jesus said we need to do, reflecting the character of Father who is "kind to the ungrateful and those who are wicked".

In case we missed the point, there is no room in the Christian vocabulary for the phrase, "How dare you ...", or, "I have the right...". We are too concerned with reflecting the character of Father to be worried about who did what against us and which of our many rights have been violated. Just think of how many rights Jesus set aside in order to demonstrate the extraordinary love of Father. To imitate Father should be the only thought on the minds of his children:

So imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way your Father is. (v.36) 

The Word says it, the Spirit does it but our will must desire it. There is no judgment coming from this writer but the facts should speak for themselves. Look in the mirror, reflect on your behaviour and attitude, ask yourself if your love for Jesus has brought you the point of obedience to his commands, and take careful note if you are imitating Father. Are you imitating him? Are you extraordinary because of your demonstrated love for your enemies? Do you do good every day without any restraints? You have been transformed by Jesus, changed, made new, and now you have the capacity to be an imitator of Father. It is a learned behaviour. Watch what he does, and do it.

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