In the world of business and commerce, a person doesn’t advance to the next level without first mastering the basics. You don’t go from dishwasher to sous chef until you can Julienne carrots and sauté an onion to perfection. It’s unlikely you’ll be promoted from cashier to CFO without a CPA or MBA—and both of these degrees require taking exams and passing them.
Why is it that in the Church world we give ourselves promotions before becoming proficient at the most basic Christianity 101 skills?
So you don’t think I’m jabbing a finger at you, let me make this personal and you can watch as I point at myself in the mirror.
For the past three days I’ve read Luke 6:27-36 and I’m wondering why I’ve let myself skate across this passage so many times in the past—knowing what it says, yet failing to dissect it and apply each verse to my life before moving on. I read “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,” and I nod and say “Amen” and keep on reading.
But do I? Do I love my enemies and bless and do good and pray for those who mistreat me?
I think my cop-out has always been the intensity of the words “hate” and “curse” and “mistreat.” I honestly don’t know of anyone who sincerely hates me. (Here’s your chance to come forward if you do, and test my love skills!) I live in a Christian bubble where I’m not cursed at or mistreated. So I’m good, right? Moving on . . .
But what if the day comes that I’m face-to-face with someone who hates or mistreats me because of who I am or what I believe? Will I be able to respond with blessing if I haven’t come close to mastering the art of loving those I don’t especially LIKE?
This week, I read a harsh post written by a friend whose political views are the polar opposite of mine. What welled up in me as I read her criticism of many people who share my views, was not blessing. My first response was not to pray for her or find a way to bless her. My knee-jerk reaction was to block her.
And then I read again . . . love, do good, bless, pray. And so I take a deep breath and determine to do it.
And five seconds later admit I can’t.
Nothing in my humanness can respond to cursing with kindness or criticism with grace. Nothing in my flesh is prepared to reach out in love to someone who trashes my beliefs. And so I confess . . . Lord, forgive me for even trying to do this by an act of my will. Only You can do this. Holy Spirit, expand this stone cold hard, make it pliable enough that you can love her through me.
I’ll be stuck on this passage for a long time. Come to think of it, I will never master it. But maybe I’ll get better at responding with prayer, with turning it over to the Master and getting out of His way so he can love, do good, and bless through me.
Anyone else feel the need to stay in an entry-level position a little longer, as apprentice to the Master, before moving on?