Rich Mullins was one of my favorite song writers. Rich had a way of telling a story and painting a picture of the everyday struggle to be a real talmid (disciple) of Jesus in a modern world. His words and music resonate with me still because his joy, compassion, brokenness and unblinking honesty all served his greatest desire, pointing people toward God.
In our campus ministry work, our greatest desire is to be talmidim (disciples) of Jesus. This weeks discussion at Indiana U. of South Bend centered on the last segments of Matthew chapter 5.
Matthew 5:38-48 (ESV)
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Wether it’s on campus, at a job, in the public schools or some other corner of the society we live in, as Christians we often find ourselves tempted to be defensive when we are challenged or attacked because we hold the Bible to be truth. How many times do we see in some aspect of social media vicious words spoken… on both sides? These passages in Matthew are the teachings Jesus used to train his talmidim. His words are true for us as well. People outside of Christ do not hold the Bible to be truth. Using it to hit them over the heads does nothing because we are not on equal footing. As talmidim, we are called to be different… uncommon… why? because our God is different! Those that hate us because of Jesus may still hate us, but if we act any other way than the way Jesus teaches in the sermon on the mount, we lose our credibility and our witness and we sure aren’t pointing people towards Jesus. Those we are retaliating against will never see anything in Christians other than hate if we act the same as everyone else. These words of Jesus apply to all of us who aspire to be one of His talmidim. Anyone remember the trendy Christian thing “WWJD” (what would Jesus do)? We know what he would do and have us do… love those who oppose and hate us, pray for them, forgive them. It’s not a level playing field, how can we expect them to act any different if they don’t believe? Being a talmid of Jesus I know the truth and I need to have His words be reflected in my daily life. If I don’t, how can I be an arrow pointing to heaven?