Monday, June 13, 2016

So Be Perfect

By Melanie Rigney

Then the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son.” (1 Kings 21:28-29)

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. (Psalm 51:3a)

“For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48)

Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with your spirit and life. (Opening of a prayer said to be among the favorites of Teresa of Calcutta)

I once saw a video in which the speaker asked who attendees thought was the best person of the twentieth century. Many said Teresa of Calcutta.  Then he asked who the evilest person of the century was. Many said Hitler; a few said Stalin. Finally, he asked where the audience members would put themselves. The consensus was somewhere in between.

The speaker then threw down the challenge. God’s desire is that we all live lives of generosity and justice and sacrifice in the way of Teresa. Being better than Hitler or Stalin simply isn’t enough.

But it’s so hard. So very hard.

Most of us are not called to nurse and pray over the teeming mass of humanity
By Clyde Waddell [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
in the slums of Calcutta. We’re called to love in a different way. We’re called to love that pastor who feels the need to instruct us on the proper way to receive communion. We’re called to love that person who doesn’t wait for us to finish a thought because he or she knows, just knows, what we’re going to say and has already prepared a response. We’re called to love that texting teenager whose carelessness resulted in the death of our grandchild. We’re called to love (but not necessarily vote for) that politician whose views and ethics are so contrary to ours that we don’t think we could even stand to be in the same room with him or her.

We’re called to love.

Hitler and Stalin wouldn’t or couldn’t do it. But surely, with God’s help, we can put aside our human notion that we will never achieve the Father’s perfection of love… and seek it anyway.

Spread Jesus’s fragrance today in a place you find odious.

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