And no, I don’t mean because of persecution, I mean because of the inner struggle between my natural human tendencies on the one hand, and the desire to obey God on the other.
Jesus calls me to very high standards. He has every right: not only because of being God, but also because he actually lived as a human being on this earth and went through trials and temptations and never sinned – so he does know what it’s like, he’s not some lofty dude on a remote mountaintop dispensing advice whilst being totally removed from our experiences of life.
But Lord, you don’t know how much it hurts when… Yes, he does. So I don’t have that excuse.
Jesus tells me not just to love my neighbour as I love myself, but also to love my enemies, pray for those who persecute me – but Lord, it’s hard to love when someone is deliberately hurting you, maliciously being cruel to you, like they’re sticking nails in your… oh, right, I’m forgetting, you know what that’s like, and you said “Father, forgive them”.
Faced with the one who suffered all that – I am without excuse.
Oh, but this stuff about love being patient and kind, not taking into account a wrong suffered – surely that can’t mean I have to be patient with people who are maligning me? it can’t mean just standing there and hearing them and not standing up for myself, right? I mean… that would be like… like… like Jesus did when he was put on trial… like Jesus when he was publicly mocked…
It’s a tall order, yes, but it is what he calls me to, and he walked this road before me so he knows what it’s like.
My sinful human nature cries out: no, I don’t want to be loving and kind towards someone who is metaphorically sticking nails in my hands, I want to yell at them, I want to stand up for myself, I want to get back at them, to show them how wrong they are.
But I have chosen to follow the crucified and risen Jesus.
His way is not the easy way – it calls for sacrifice. But I know his way is right and good. And where else can I go? He is the one who has the words of eternal life.