Reading: Matthew 5: 38-48
Once we begin our journey of faith, we are committing to walk in a way of the Lord, to work to become more and more like the perfector of our faith, Jesus Christ. While we may never reach the perfection that Jesus exhibited, we are nonetheless called to press on towards that goal. This is God’s desire for each of us. It is why we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us – to be a constant presence and reminder of our call to live as children of God.
God calls us not to the ordinary, to the run of the mill, but to lives that are extraordinary, to lives that are outstanding. In the opening verses of today’s passage, Jesus gives some examples that demonstrate going above and beyond. If one strikes your right cheek (to show insult or offense), then offer your left cheek next (to extend love and friendship). If someone demands your tunic, then give them your cloak as well. If a Roman soldier ‘asks’ you to carry their pack one mile (as required by law), offer to carry it a second mile as well. It is living with a willing and generous heart, even to those who harm, sue, and oppression you. It is demonstrating extravagant love even to those who are hard to love.
It is a call to be “more” that Jesus issues. He reminds us that we all love those who love us. That is ordinary, normal. Jesus says even tax collectors and pagans do this. Jesus calls us to more. In verse 48 He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Jesus himself is our example of what God’s perfect love looks like lived out. Jesus offered life, hope, healing, forgiveness, and love to all He met – regardless of whether or not they loved Him.
God expects the same of us. Yes, this is perfection we are called to. Yes, on our own this is impossible. We are not alone. The Holy Spirit leads and guides and corrects and redirects us to love as Jesus first loved us. Each day God seeks to renew us, to make us each new creations, ‘born of the Spirit, washed in His blood’. This day may we each offer extravagant love and extraordinary witness to all we meet, bringing glory to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our risen King.