What Jesus called truth, considered good, and described as beautiful (glorious) wasn’t palatable to the masses or manageable by the powerful. It wasn’t Jewish enough, Roman enough, religious enough, conservative enough, or liberal enough, but it was always political. I guess it’s inevitable when you’re announcing the arrival of a new kingdom.
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” Jesus says. “Love your enemies, pray for and bless them,” he teaches. “Give to any who ask without expectation of return, especially the ones who could never pay you back,” he says. “The world will know you’re mine by how you love one another,” he teaches.
Jesus extended the narrow boundaries created by the politically savvy and busted them wide open. He viewed others not in terms of “right” or “left,” conservative or liberal, but from a perspective that transcended all options offered by society and religion. It’s why he welcomed liars, thieves, home-wreckers, and those who didn’t believe; the abandoned and abused, the lonely and confused; the widow and the child, the forgotten and left-out; the rich and poor, the hated and adored; the strong and weak, the hypocrite and meek. He welcomed them all.
But not all welcomed him. Some things haven’t changed.
“Love yourself above all others,” America says. “Destroy your enemies before they destroy you, pray for them, but blow them up if you must,” It teaches. “Give to those who’ve earned it or deserve it,” It says. “The world will know we’re exceptional by how dominant we are,” It teaches.
It’s a tragic contrast if you love this country. And I love my country, but I think we put too much pressure on it to become something it was never meant to be. It’s why my heart aches. But I love King Jesus more. He says there’s only one country that can become what our hearts long for and I must choose my allegiance. Since I’ve chosen him I have to let his teachings form my life, especially when it runs contrary to society.
Sure, some of Jesus’ teachings puzzle me to no end. He’s not willing to accommodate my preferences or make his way of life more palatable. But I’ve confessed him to be Lord, pledged my allegiance to Him and have been naturalized a citizen of His kingdom. He tells me I’ve been adopted by God and welcomed into God’s household. He tells me that should change everything.
When I consider the alternatives placed in front of me, Jesus’ way of life makes much more sense. What he calls “true,” considers “good,” and describes as “beautiful” becomes breathtakingly appealing. It seems like life could work better for all of us if we’d trust Him–follow his teachings and set out together to live like him.
Personally, I’ve seen what can happen when a community of folks decide to trust Jesus. I’ve watched the abandoned not remain alone. I’ve seen the broken find some measure of healing. I’ve witnessed the marginalized and left-out find welcome and honor. I’ve seen hypocrites awaken (I’m still awakening), the prideful become humble (I’m still a work in progress), the weak grow strong, the shamed discover courage, and the guilty find forgiveness. I’ve watched the ideologically divided come together around a common life. I’ve seen some of society’s ugliest “-isms” shift toward becoming “-was’m’s.”
I’m starting to make more sense out of what Jesus said was true, good and beautiful, even though when I look around it feels a bit upside down. I guess that’s what it means to be a citizen of God’s “holy nation” while living in the midst of another.
The good news is that all are still welcome.