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 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. 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 own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
You have heard much said in recent days.
You have seen much done.
Earth has spoken to its maximum volume.
We must now listen to heaven with its sacred voice.
What we have heard is not holy.
What we have seen is not good.
We are reminded by Jesus that how the world functions has no relevance to how the kingdom thrives. We are people of eternality, not carnality, and therefore the means available for the temporary agenda of the world prove antithetical for the eternal destiny of the saints. The call is for the perfection of the Father and this shall not be generated by the rage of man. The perfection of the Father, Jesus says, is rooted in a view of others and a view of self, the first to be offered grace despite their actions, and the second to accept childship irrespective of effort. To be a child of God is to emanate forgiveness to those who themselves could so be called. We are to treat those who are not in the family as if they were and this, this is the secret of the kingdom as it grows. When we treat those outside the family as if they were in, when we extend grace to the unlovely and unknown and mercy to the inconvenient and obstinate – when we adopt in our hearts as we have been adopted in His – we reach heaven with our lives in ways we cannot begin to imagine with outcomes we could not begin to believe.
This is the kingdom of God. When we are as Father is, we become as children should be. To be a child is to have a Father. Therefore as we reflect Father as Father we begin to see ourselves as children – our formation is dependent upon our following. We are shaped by our submission. When we look like Him, we start to look like us. Since we are in His image it is not our image we need to find – our countless diagrams and tests and factors and formulas and charts to determine what we are like or how we are perceived or ways in which we might function. Ministry culture, the internet, leadership modalities – all of them are replete with ways to allegedly unpack the mystery of self. From complex books to Facebook quizzes we see a menagerie of exams which occasionally border on deterministic rather than inspirational, speaking to the box you must fit rather than the creation you must become. The message is comforting in its knowability and limiting in its scope – you now know who you are. But I have little need of such information – it is only useful in becoming who I can one day be. Perhaps such things have many uses, but if we want to know who we truly are we must find out who He truly is. Do not let your destiny be color coded or described or defined by anything or anyone except the One in whose image you are made. He has not taken a test as to His personality and promptly behaves according to our findings – He is the test of our personality. It is His image which makes our own – we are the reflection, not the face. And so the more like Father we are, the more like ourselves we become, until our image on earth is so aligned with His image in heaven that a road of presence and power with ceaseless travel exchanges pain from below for healing from above. God has made us to be like Him. His words, not mine. If the task seems beyond us, it is because it is above us, and so the only way to accomplish the impossible is to redefine the obligation – we are, in fact, merely becoming our destiny, which ought not to be such a foreign task after all. We can either recoil at the horror of our invitation for perfection or embrace with elation God’s promise of its possibility. God has not told us what cannot be, but what most certainly already is – Himself. Be like Me, He says. And all we need to do is be less as others and maybe even self.
The call does seem lofty. And so it is matched by a love which is mighty.
The thing about a family, however – a real, genuine family as it is designed to be – is that in a family, you belong. Because it wouldn’t be a family if you were not in it. To be defined as a Father one must, one presumes, have children. And so it should be astounding that a title God offers of Himself is contingent upon an acceptance of childhood by us. We often think that it is a marvel that we are called the children of God – and indeed a marvel it is. But have you ever possessed the double blessing, that not only would He allow us to be His children, but as His children He would allow us to make Him Father?
You see it is not a question of whether you belong.
It is merely a question of whether you are willing.
Every Father needs a family.
You can be His.
It won’t be easy. But it will be holy. And that, perhaps, is far more important.
Remember the rain on the righteous and unrighteous?
There is enough of God’s blessing that giving it to those who hate Him does not exhaust the amount left for those that love Him.
With God it is not a problem of lacking, but of taking. There is enough of Him to love the world. We must ensure there is not too much world in us to love Him. What we have heard from the world keeps us from hearing the One saving it. Close your ears, and open your heart – stop listening to the chatter, and love instead those making it – and you will find yourself with increasing capacity to offer impossible grace to the unlovely while receiving unlimited love for the impossible. He can do it. And if we are more like Him, so can we.
God is big enough to help you love your enemies, and loving enough to no longer call you one.
Only God can give what we cannot offer so we can offer what only He can give. Mercy desires its multiplicity. Grace is infectious. And we – we – can become so like Father that what He does and what we are doing align to the degree that the outcomes of our earthly lives finally mirror the reality of our spiritual one.
Walk wisely. The family needs you.