Teach me your way

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
                  —Matthew 5.38-44

Teach me your way, O Lord,
          and I will observe it to the end.
Lead me in the path you show me,
          for I delight in it.

                  —Psalm 119.33, 35

Jesus’ teaching seems so hard, so impractical, so unreasonable, so unlikely to work. We’re pretty sure we’re smarter than him on this. We come up with all sort of reasons why we couldn’t, shouldn’t actually do this stuff. We resist it with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. Of course we don’t know what we’re talking about, since we’ve never actually lived it.

The point of Jesus’ teaching is not to find reasonable ways to avoid it; it’s to practice it, to learn from it, to follow in his footsteps. Of course we’ll not be good at it; we’ll get it wrong, fumble and make huge mistakes. Of course we’ll get hurt. And of course—of course—it will not work. We won’t convert our enemies or purify our souls. We’ll make fools of ourselves and lose a lot.

But we will follow in the way God leads us, the way of nonviolent love. And in our following, however feebly and awkwardly, grace will happen. Our lives will become God’s. Blessing will happen, someone will get loved, and the Gospel will be proclaimed. Even when it “doesn’t work,” God’s will is done, God’s delight fulfilled.

Don’t try to outsmart God; don’t judge Jesus’ wisdom; don’t calculate outcomes. Don’t run away. Don’t seek excuses to go the way of the world. Seek the faith to go the way of Christ, the courage that comes from surrendering your self-envelopment and trusting in God. Just be quiet and try it.

Offer your resistance to God. Open your heart to God’s leading and trust that there is blessing in it. Pray continually:
          Teach me your way, O Lord,
                    and I will observe it to the end.
          Lead me in the path you show me,
                    for I delight in it.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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write to me at unfoldinglight8(at)hotmail.com

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