At first glance, it seems to me that Jesus would be quite a misfit in our current national and international society. I wonder, did he really mean what the Gospel writers claimed that he said? Let’s face it. In today’s world, his teachings seem out of place. “Love your enemies? That’s crazy.” How easy to assume that the words Matthew attributed to Jesus fit the political atmosphere over 2,000 years ago but offer no match for a world full of tweets, cyber wars, drones, and nuclear threats.
Today, tough domination and even rejection of all those considered enemies appears to be the desired goal. Unfortunately, hating those we fear requires ignoring many of the words recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What if the lessons recorded by the gospel writers continue to beckon to us today? How might we live if we believe the teachings credited to Jesus fit our current lives more accurately than we want to admit?
I am convinced that IF I want to call myself a follower of Christ, I cannot do less than love my enemies. I also fear that the teachings of Jesus do not work well for wimps, which whispers a hint that I may not be brave enough to actually do this. However, if I want a less demanding way to live, I will need to stop referring to myself as one who seeks to follow the teachings of Jesus.
Stockpiling weapons for the purpose of defending home and family may sound like a solid plan. But, is it? In an effort to consider a new perspective on personal protection, please join me on an imaginary time-travel journey to contemplate the following question:
Can the words of Jesus apply in today’s world?
Imagine for a moment that just outside the walls of Jerusalem, we mingle with devout followers of Jesus. The Last Supper has been eaten, Judas departed, and Jesus has withdrawn to pray. Although most disciples sleep, a few of us crouch around a small fire to discuss possible actions to take. All of us realize that danger lurks. Our Master’s life hangs in jeopardy.
As we linger, we hear “Jesus will be arrested. He will be tried and found guilty of blasphemy. We have to do something.” Following a hushed moment, a disciple mutters, “We must arm ourselves. In order to protect our Master and our cause, we must resist. Let every man take up arms and be ready for defense. When the soldiers arrive, we will be ready.”
How might history have unfolded if the disciples had physically fought the soldiers – soldiers, who, in fact came and arrested Jesus? Would fighting have been a “courageous” action or a futile massacre? How would recorded history be different? These questions suggest some interesting considerations about whether the teachings of Jesus can actually apply today.
Tribute to Bill and Sonnye Dingler
In 1958, family and friends watched Bill Dingler and Sonnye Bell walk down the aisle to form an unbreakable union under God. Did their financial future look promising at that time? I imagine our elders shook their worried heads over a young man whose job resume would have boasted “experienced and speedy cantaloupe packer”. When cantaloupe season ended in Pecos, off drove Bill and Sonnye in search of California fields.
Through the years, we watched Bill’s transformation from being a Pecos boy with few occupational skills to an established owner of a successful construction company. How did he learn all he needed to know? I’ll give God major credit. I also credit Bill for taking care of Sonnye and two beautiful children. He did a “whopping” good job of it, too!
For fifty-eight years, Bill and Sonnye served as role models for the rest of us. Their marriage lasted when many others failed. They parented lovingly within firm boundaries. Now, the result of their diligence pays off with a bounty of love from their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Most of all, Bill and Sonnye exemplified an unwavering faith in God. Their steadfast love for Jesus as their Savior laid a foundation of life for them. As we bid farewell to Bill and imagine him on a better journey, we recognize that he and Sonnye will continue to bless us. We give our heartfelt thanks for both of them.
Good job, Bill. Carry on with God as you have always done.
The Man walked His talk. Although He admonished followers to “Consider the lilies of the field,” He did not suggest that we stride stupidly into a lion’s snare. To me, the lilies represent peace, sound judgment and all that embodies the opposite of fear and anguish.
So, what do we worry about today? Whom do we hold suspect? Which fears should be honored as legitimate and which can we discard as useless paranoia? This morning, I read, “There is a level in every human soul which knows no conflict, competition, or contempt.” Within that level of consciousness, we can abandon needless worry.
When we fear someone simply because that person’s skin tone differs from ours, or their name for God is foreign to our ears, or their sexual preference does not meet our likings, we lose sight of the lilies of the field. These fears differ significantly from situations in which true danger lurks.
Whether you like Pope Francis or not, you must admit, the man speaks and lives in ways that change people’s hearts and minds. In doing so, Pope Frances changes the world.
Personally, I like this man of God. Although I am not Catholic, I appreciate his courage. Below, I share a few reasons for my deep respect for the pope.
- With his scientific background, this educated pope demonstrates intelligence and understanding about nature. On his recent trip to the United States, he urged followers to respect and abide by President Obama’s stand on climate change. When each of us arrived on earth, nature greeted us with visual canvases of splendor and symphonies of songs. Taking care of planet earth is nothing more than good stewardship. When we cap pollution, clean up our oceans, reduce smog, and seek alternative forms of energy, we honor God. Even if climate change has nothing to do with man’s behaviors, honoring the planet provides a concrete way to express thanks.
- Pope Francis encouraged the church to follow the teachings of Jesus by ministering to the poor, the sick, and the underprivileged. He did not recommend a checklist of required behaviors or conditions.
When a small Catholic university interviewed me years ago, the president asked if I could commit to their mission statement. After reading the document, I determined that the values included in the statement fit my own beliefs. If there had been a conflict of principles, I would never have taken the job.
Due to the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling that allows gays and lesbians to legally marry, Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk charged with supplying marriage certificates faces a personal dilemma. According to Davis, her principles will be violated if she signs a certification for marriage of a homosexual couple. Now, two additional Kentucky clerks, Casey Davis and Kay Schwartz join Kim Davis in her refusal. Continue reading