One out of the thousands of things I love about Jesus of Nazareth is that He is crazy. I don’t mean “loony tunes, put-Him-in-the-nuthouse” crazy. I’m talking about how Jesus has these insane ideas about how to build the Kingdom of God.
Here’s just a few of those wacko ideas:
- turn the other cheek when you’re insulted
- give in ways so other people don’t notice
- love your enemy
- take up your
crosstortuous death contraption of choice to follow Him
While taking up your cross is obviously the most difficult, loving your enemy is arguably Jesus’ hardest teaching for us to truly practice. People nowadays think it’s impossible–even if they’re not being physically attacked like the early Christ followers were!
We can all relate to begrudgingly forgiving someone who [barely] slighted us or gossiped behind our back. But what about loving someone who has different cultural views than you? Dan White, Jr. tweeted something about this that got me laughing pretty hard.
Right?!? I can hardly keep my eyes from rolling out of my head when certain people in my life* talk about politics or religion. I’m sure you have people like this in your life. (Or maybe you’re one of those people for someone else!)
(Maybe I’m one of those people for you. [Oof, that hits too close to home.])
Jesus put people who were at different ends of the political spectrum together in the little community He started. Simon the Zealot sat at Jesus’ feet, right alongside of Matthew/Levi the tax collector. Zealots were Israelites who supported random, guerrilla violence aimed at Roman soldiers and supporters. They wanted to usurp Rome’s power in Israel and endorsed violent means to do it. Many lauded them as patriotic heroes.
Conversely, tax collectors were seen as traitors, even by non-Zealot Jews. They made their living by over charging their fellow citizens more money than what was owed to the Roman Empire. They were unpopular, not only because they were The Tax Man, but because they aided the Roman boot to crush Israel’s neck even more.
And you think you can’t stand someone who subscribes to a different political party than you? Pssshhh, that’s amateur stuff! At least we live in a country that isn’t being held down by another one.
Christ followers need to take a page out of the Gospels when it comes to being unified with others who follow Jesus. If The Rabbi thought it was a good idea to put a Zealot and a tax collector together, we should probably figure out how to be unified with other people, too, regardless of what they think of Obama’s presidential prowess.
Forgive your enemy. LOVE your enemy. This practice is supposed to extend to Democrats, Republicans, Communists, Socialists, Libertarians, Beyoncéians, slacktivists, or anyone else you can’t stand.
*I don’t mean you, obviously! Please still love me.