Yesterday in my message I reflected on the many demands Jesus makes of us in the Luke passage the church provided for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany. I said that taken as a list they were very demanding and, frankly, very difficult.
But I also said that if put into categories they provide a simple summary of how Jesus expects us to behave toward each other. Here’s the list:
love your enemies
do good to those that hate you
bless those that curse you
turn the other cheek
give to everyone who begs from you
do not judge
do not condemn
do to others as you would have them do to you
In a word: YIKES.
But if we look at these commands (and they aren’t optional in Jesus’ mind; we know that) and consider what they are calling us to as followers of Jesus we realize that what he is asking here is that we be ‘experiential Christians.’ That we experience God, experience him, when we do these things. In other words, when we do these things–all of which, let us not forget, requires another person in the mix-we are quite literally able to say we are doing it to him, with him and for him. And in doing so we are being authentic followers of Jesus.
Can they all be done all the time. Nah, of course not. In fact almost everything Jesus calls us to is impossible for humans to follow to the letter. But we can be intentional in trying.
Christ Church, I said in my message, is becoming an Experiential Church. We spend no time debating big theological issues (except for fun sometimes in Bible Conversation) we spend no time trying to change people to think like we do. We don’t spend a minute arguing about politics or religion.
Instead what we do is love. What we do is give each other the benefit of the doubt that if they are here, in this place, Christ Church, they too are trying as hard as they can to follow Jesus as he asked us to follow him. And that is enough. Perfection isn’t the goal. Experiencing God is the goal. And we do that based on how we treat each other and how we live.
When we are ‘experiential Christians’ we are authentic Christians. And the heart of the Jesus message is authentic love of God and neighbor.
Peace and all good,