THE POWER TO TRANSFORM
"'Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.'" Luke 6:31-34 (The Message).
Jesus was brilliant!
What an amazingly simple, yet powerfully effective prescription for creating harmony in the world! But it takes far more than the disposition of ordinary humans to do that.
We humans have far more inclination to destroy that to build and to sustain. Watching television is enough to convince us of that. How many TV programmes and movies and books and news stories are about destruction? And we thrive on them all! Watching or reading about everyday stuff is tame and boring. We like murder and war and bloodshed.
Jesus challenged His hearers, and He challenges us today. Try living this way for a month and see what it does to your depression; your stress; even your anxieties and fears. How many of the issues you have with others will melt away? How much suspicion, mistrust, dislike, offenses will dissipate? How much peace will you experience in the place of inner turmoil?
Just imagine how far the ripples will go out from the pebble you drop in the pond! You have issues with your husband? Try doing for him what you are always nagging him to do for you. Your wife refuses to be your servant? Try lovingly serving her without expecting any reward. The outcome beggars imagination. Homes would be transformed from war zones to havens.
Jesus put His finger on the nerve centre of our problems -- selfishness! What if we dethroned ourselves, just for a month, put Him back on the throne of our lives where He belongs, let God be the centre of the universe, not us, and practised these simple ways to create harmony, not chaos, around us? Jesus said our behaviour would be as visible as a candle in a dark room.
None of these things are difficult to do, but we have strong resistance from inside because they are foreign to our natural disposition. That is the reason why we need a supernatural solution to our problem of selfishness. It may take sheer grit and will power to do what we are not disposed to doing, but it will not last. We will soon be back to our old ways because every kind thought or act would be cutting across our real selves.
What Jesus was describing is "kingdom" living and He said that it takes a "birth" from above to understand and live the way God does. This kind of "power" makes no sense to the person who is used to living by the sword. Is that why the disciples switched off when Jesus spoke about His death? It made no sense to them then that the way to overcome the world system of power through force was to absorb the evil without retaliation until that power could do no more to Him.
Nothing about God's kingdom makes sense to the person who is still dark inside. The disposition of darkness only understands the power that pushes others around. Jesus was advocating a new kind of power, the power to subdue one's own heart to the advantage of others. The power of love. What the world calls "power", He called weakness. What He called "power", the world called weakness, foolishness, but it turned out to be the most powerful event in the history of the world -- the cross!
The cross changes things for the better like nothing else can. Force can change the world -- for the worse. But the cross changes lives.
Has it changed yours?
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