Jesus’ application of love defies our use of love. It is not even within our nature to comprehend what love should be used for. It is a completely new lesson on how to love. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:43-48).
Rarer than rare, are you, my Love; From heaven you came, my Dove. Your heart had eyes, others could not see;Your arms were like wings, reaching for me.
The pursuit to contentment is a task everyone must undertake on his or her own. We like to read, “And my God will satisfy all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”(Phil. 4:19). Paul could say it, but could Paul give it? A few lines before, he wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances” (Phil. 4:11). Just how rich was Jesus, the Christ? His answer was, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Mt. 8:20). Yet, it was Jesus who told his disciples, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”(Mt. 5:6). What the Lord is saying, to me to be satisfied, I must hunger and thirst to do what is right, and in so doing what pleases the Lord, I will be blessed.
Jesus asked this question, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth"(Lk. 18:8)? John the Baptist predicted, “He must grow and I must decline”(Jn. 3:30). We live in the highest technological age and even in the midst of an economic downturn, we still belong to those that are materially well. However, regarding the increase of faith in Jesus, we are in the midst of a rapid decline. These words of Jesus could have been written today, ”Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”(Mt. 24:9-14).
Man starts out on his life journey on a single road. When he reaches accountability, he will come to a fork in the road; then he has to decide on which one he wants to finish his journey. Jesus, the Christ, has provided a hint where each of the roads may lead. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads toward destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Mt. 7:13-14; Lk. 13:24). Jesus had in mind seeking the kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33) and doing the will of God (Mt. 7:21).
I was fourteen when the Germans sent me to an army camp to be trained as a youth leader. At that time, I was leading two troops of boys ages ten to fourteen. The first thing I had to learn was that my orders and requests had to be direct. I was not allowed to enhance my request or sweet-talk the commander. My experience reminds me of our Lord’s instruction regarding prayer. “But when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray… to be seen by men. I tell you the truth they have received their reward in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then you’re Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on bubbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Mt. 6:5-8).