We all know people are challenging. Whether it’s the closest to us in our families, our coworkers, or others we have no problem calling an enemy. But, our struggle with others is more subtle than that. Without even realizing, people who believe different things or look slightly different make us uncomfortable. We quickly box ourselves into niches and communities we’re comfortable with. Jesus was always breaking down the everyday lives of his listeners with carefully worded, laser-guided missiles, aimed right at our blind spots.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? – Matthew 5:46
It’s easy to float in social circles that we are comfortable in. They make us happy and keep us content. Venturing outside of those circles can be an exercise in pain management. Like an engine reaching its breaking point, we often slam the brakes and try to find our way back to what is familiar and safe. Jesus, however, never gives us that option.
And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? – Matthew 5:47
The message of Jesus clearly challenges our basic desires. Who we are friends with, and who we are not. The cross of Christ, literally becomes the bridge between people groups, communities, and personal relationships. Think about the simplicity of this statement from Jesus,“If you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?”
As Christians, we are called to reach beyond what is easy relationally to find where the engine is near breaking, and to keep the peddle down. Christians must push through and befriend others.
Yet Jesus knows, we’ll fail most of the time. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48
Though we love only those who love us, God showed his love for us in Christ. He became our truest friend though we were enemies, doing whatever we could to shun him and do things our way. Jesus was perfect for us so that we can be seen as perfect in God’s eyes.
We can freely be imperfect people, befriending and loving other imperfect people. Lent is a season to consider the words of Jesus in a fresh way. Perhaps this is the season for you to greet someone Jesus would have greeted.