Tuesday, April 12, 2016
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou
Karen said I might lose some readers because of yesterday’s blog, but what can you do? Christ is the one who set the bar so high, not me. Those of us flawed and imperfect specimens can aspire to act and feel as Christ wants us to feel and act, but that doesn’t mean we can do it—at least not all of the time. I fail every day, but every day I start out with high hopes of imitating Christ whenever I can. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed that while you could not attain the perfection of thought, word, and deed that Christ wanted of us, we could perfect our desire and motivation to be like Christ. Let’s face it, the Sermon on the Mount sets some very high standards. A large number of theologians wish it wasn’t in the New Testament because they think it will discourage people from following Christ as His demands are just too high. Okay, I get it. Turning the other cheek is hard to do, and I don’t do it every time. When things are not going my way, I enjoy watching a Western movie where the bad guys get shot and the hero rides off into the sunset. It makes me feel better. Not too long ago, a person really hurt my wife’s feelings. It has been hard for me to forgive, and I (and Karen) have been searching for ways to come to terms with that hurt. We are human, after all. That being said, the standards that Christ set are still there, and we still need to try our best to show others that we are Christians by our love because we certainly don’t do it by showing our hate. Christ is ready to forgive us for failing, but He is more ready to forgive if He knows we are trying and haven’t given up thinking He is just asking too much of us. It is hard to pick up your cross and follow Him. I frequently think of the man who wanted to bury his father first, but Jesus said, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:60) That seems a bit harsh, but Jesus was making a point about excuses and rationalizations. Please don’t give up because you can’t measure up fully to the very high bar of human action and emotion that Christ calls us to embrace. None of us can achieve that kind of perfection. Paul knew this, but he boldly proclaimed that, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) Paul knew he hadn’t met the standards that Christ had set, but he did forget his previous failures and pressed on—which is really all that Christ is asking us to do. Forget the times we fail, and keep trying to do what He told us is right. We can do that, can’t we?