“If it’s Us or Them, It’s Us for Them” and “My Enemies Are Men Like Me”

Sometimes we followers of Jesus forget his actual teachings, some of which can be difficult, if not impossible, to follow.  In particular I am thinking about these verses from the Sermon on the Mount:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? (Mat 5:43-46, ESV)

These verses remind me of two songs.  One is a recent release by the group Gungor and the video is below. The other is an older song by Derek Webb, the lyrics of which follow the video.

My Enemies Are Men Like Me

Derek Webb

i have come to give you life
and to show you how to live it
i have come to make things right
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

’cause i would rather die
i would rather die
i would rather die
than to take your life
’cause how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me

so i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
’cause my enemies are men like me
peace by way of war
is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution

and i would rather die
i would rather die
i would rather die
than to take your life
’cause how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me

so i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
’cause my enemies are men like me
when justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor

so how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
so i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
’cause my enemies are men like me

Just something to think about, my friends.

The Key to Something . . . The Key to Everything

One of the best books I have read on the Christian life is an extremely interesting and easy read by Donald Miller entitled Blue Like Jazz.  In the coming weeks I may use excerpts of this book as the basis for some of my blogs about my own feelings about the faith of which I am an ordained minister, but I want to start with a quote from a chapter near the end of the book named “Jesus”. In it Miller writes,

A guy I know named Alan went around the country asking ministry leaders questions. He went to successful churches and asked the pastors what they were doing, and why what they were doing was working. It sounded very boring, except for one visit he made to a man named Bill Bright, the president of a big ministry. Alan said he was a big as life, who listened without shifting his eyes. Alan asked a few questions-I don’t know what they were, but as a final question, he asked Dr. Bright what Jesus meant to him. Alan said Dr. Bright could not answer the question. He said Dr. Bright just started to cry. He sat there in his big chair, behind his big desk, and wept.

When Alan told that story, I wondered what it was like to love Jesus like that. I wondered quite honestly if that Bill Bright guy was just nuts, or if he really knew Jesus in a personal way, so well that he would cry at the very mention of His name. I knew then that I would like to know Jesus like that; with all my heart, not just my head. I really felt like that would be the key to something.”

I am often a whiner and complainer, and when it comes to the failings of the church this is even more true. There is much wrong with “organized religion.” From denominations concerned about their own preservation to local churches filled with people whose primary concern is the church meeting their own needs, Christianity often does not looks like a religion that Jesus would have deigned to found.

Nevertheless, I have found my calling in life as a minister of the gospel. It is not something i would have chosen for myself (that is another story), but here I am, and in spite of all of its flaws, I believe that the church is one of the primary ways that God has chosen to reach our world with his message of love and grace. It is passages and stories like the one above that give me hope that we have not failed entirely in our mission.

This passage reminds me that, more than anything else, my calling has to do with introducing people to Jesus and calling them to love him as he loves them. Nothing else I do is more important than this. This is, in Miller’s words, “the key to something.” In fact, as a follower of Jesus, i would go even further: it is the key to everything.

For a another take on this quote from Blue Like Jazz, visit seretoninrain here.


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What I Want to Be – Fred Craddock

Thanks to Jason Woolever for finding and posting this quote on his blog post-methodist.  It is from Fred Craddock.

“When I was in my late teens, I wanted to be a preacher. When I was in my late twenties, I wanted to be a good preacher. Now that I am older, I want more than anything else to be a Christian. To live simply, to love generously, to speak truthfully, to serve faithfully, and leave everything else to God.”