One of the toughest commands of Christianity – hands down!

According to this news story, one police officer practiced what I consider to be one of the toughest commands of following Jesus – hands down!

I don’t know if the officer was, is or ever will be a Christian, but I know that turning the other cheek is no easy task.

Turning the other cheek goes against every basic feeling that follows being wronged on whatever level you can imagine. Turning the other cheek calls for a level of self-denial that’s uncomfortable. Turning the other cheek puts us in a place that appears vulnerable. Turning the other cheek is counter-culture to practically every culture that has ever existed. To the world, turning the other cheek reeks of weakness.

But regardless of what the world initially thinks of the idea known as turning the other cheek, the world takes note of the discipline and patience that it takes to carry it out…whether the individual is in a place of authority or not.

Considering the last two paragraphs, it’s no wonder Jesus delivered his challenging command of turning the other cheek during his “kingdom of God outline” speech. I mean, what in the sermon on the mount is easy to follow when it comes to the way we naturally feel in many of life’s situations? And what part of Jesus’ sermon still doesn’t catch the world’s attention when it’s seen played out?

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)

#challenges-of-discipleship, #jesus, #news, #sermon-on-the-mount

When Jesus dealt with 12 angry men

Jesus faced his own version of 12 angry men one time. And the kicker is, the angry men were his own disciples!

Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13-16)

I don’t know exactly what made the disciples feel so miffed, but one thing that I know for sure was that the only person more unhappy than the twelve was the one who desired to receive the children.

God forbid that God’s own people would set up roadblocks in the path that leads to God’s kingdom. And God forbid even more that the roadblocks come in the form of spiritual baby-gates that hinder a child from coming to the arms that were spread out on a cross for them.

Jesus indeed faced his own version of 12 angry men, but the verdict of the case could not have been clearer.

#challenges-of-discipleship, #children, #jesus

Constantly looking to self, or constantly looking to him?

And after going without food for forty days and forty nights, he was in need of it. And the Evil One came and said to him, If you are the Son of God, give the word for these stones to become bread. But he made answer and said, It is in the Writings, Bread is not man’s only need, but every word which comes out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:2-4 BBE)

Look to yourself! This was the Devil’s cry, challenge and critique. He wasn’t looking for a fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 – he was looking for an abandonment of Matthew 6:33. And what failed against Jesus often overcomes us.

Self-denial is huge! How huge? This huge – Luke 9:23-25.

Self-denial looks to God. A task that’s not always so enjoyable for those of us who aren’t prepared. It can be downright scary because we’re not as ready to change as we thought we were. That is, until we look at Jesus, and keep looking at him. With Jesus the veil is removed and the load is lightened. With Jesus negative emotions are replaced with faith-filled emotions. With Jesus we see our self better – and we see how better off we are when we deny our self and confess him.

So the next time we’re challenged to “prove” something about our faith, we may want to stop and ask if our “proof” causes us to look to a reliance upon our self or to someone else beyond our self.

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:22-27)

#challenges-of-discipleship, #faithfulness, #jesus, #reliance-upon-god, #self-denial