Jesus wasn’t playing around.
And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,[o] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matt. 5:47)
Certainly much of what Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated was counter cultural. It’s not an understatement to say that his commands and observations stretched muscles of the heart and mind.
However, these words right here? They directly target our “buts.”
But….you don’t know what she called me
But…he tried to get me fired
But….those people don’t worship my God
But… their child bullied mine
But…I don’t agree with their political views
But…they are living a sinful lifestyle
Jesus doesn’t offer conditions on who to greet. In fact, he qualifies his statement with the rest of the context:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “ (Matt 5:44-46)
Jesus was creating the picture of image bearers. Many other people groups created their own Gods to worship. Even Israel tried it once. When you do that, the ability to bear its likeness is manageable.
But it’s not Holy.
“Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:47-48)
Our God originates from Heaven and pursues us at all costs in order to infuse us with that which is out of this world. It’s uncomfortable for sure and leaves us with muscle aches. It’s downright counter-human.
But, in the midst of the process, we radiate Holiness.
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