Posted by Dan Jordan
James starts out his letter by telling us to ‘consider it pure joy’ when we face trials because our faith produces perseverance, which makes us mature and complete. I’m not often accused of being mature, and lately I’ve noticed a few reasons why that might be the case. When I occasionally leave home to get groceries and other supplies these days, I get frustrated when I see people not taking turns, blocking aisles, and generally being inconsiderate of others around them. While this type of behavior hasn’t been widespread, when I do see it, I tend to wonder what is wrong with these people and the word ‘moron’ comes to mind much more than it should.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turned the current worldview upside down by showing people that God cares more about who you are on the inside than he does about how you appear on the outside. This was radically different from what the people had been taught by their religious leaders and is one of the reasons he amazed so many people and frightened so many others. In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus said,
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”
So, if I’m supposed to love my enemies and pray for them, how can I possibly do less for the people I meet on a day to day basis? If I am a child of God, they should be able to see a little bit of who God is in how I act and how I treat them. God sent Jesus so that all people would have the chance to be his children if they believe in him. (see John 3:16)
I can’t love my enemy, or my neighbor for that matter, if I hold them in contempt in my mind or if I’m always judging them. I need to see them as being made in the image of God, just as I am made in the image of God. Only then can I treat them the way God wants me to treat them.
I need to stop seeing people as us versus them, and see them just as people. I need to stop classifying people as Christians and non-Christians and see them all as being brothers and sisters in Christ or potentially brothers and sisters in Christ.
Discussion/Application: The message that Jesus is sending us is clear: we are to love everyone, even those people we don’t particularly like. We need to love, not as the world loves, but as Christ loves. What does loving my neighbor entail? How should I pray for those who persecute me?
Bullet Prayer for the day: Father, help me to not let the current trial that I am going through make me forget who I am. Help me to act as your true child by loving others and praying for them. Help me to share your love in a world that desperately needs it.