Jesus is counter-cultural….and we should be too

Our world today teaches us to be spiteful, negative and many times just downright hateful. That’s why being a follower of Christ is so counter-cultural.

Jesus teaches us to be loving and accepting of all people. That can oftentimes be the hardest thing to do, particularly when those people are not being kind to us in return.

I’ve been going through the gospel of Luke lately, and it’s always interesting to me how different passages that you’ve read before seem to connect with you in ways they previously never had when you read them again.

One passage of particular interest to me of late has been Luke 6:27-38 where Jesus is speaking to a large crowd who had come to hear him speak and to be healed. During that teaching, Jesus spelled out to us how to love our enemies and how that makes us more like God.

“But I say to you who listen: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks from you, and from one who takes away your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Pretty much everything about what Jesus said in this passage goes against what our everyday norm in today’s world has turned into.

How often do you see cordial conversation, much less compassion, being shown between two people who disagree with each other politically? Have you read a comment section of pretty much any news article on Facebook lately? It’s a horrifying place to be. Imagine how difficult it would be to show love toward someone who is bullying you or mistreating you on a daily basis?

Yet, that is one of the many things that makes Jesus so incredible. Following him and putting his ways into practice is rarely the easy thing to do. But it’s always the right thing to do.

It’s not difficult to love the people who love you. As Jesus said, anybody can do that. But it is difficult to show love and compassion for people who treat you poorly.

At the end of the day, if you have accepted Jesus as your savior and walk with the Holy Spirit, we all have the ability to learn from what Jesus has taught us in this passage and watch how it will transform our lives.

Do not judge. Do not condemn. Just love. That’s what we’re taught to do, and that’s how we can change the world around us on a daily basis.

Don’t be afraid; just believe

Jesus was approached by a synagogue leader named Jairus in Mark 5, who fell at Jesus’ feet and pleaded with him to come with him to heal his 12-year-old daughter, who was dying. While Jesus was speaking while on his way to the home of Jairus, people came from the house and said to Jairus “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?”

When Jesus heard what they said, he told Jairus in Mark 5:36:

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 

Jesus went into the house and took the dead girl by the hand and said “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Scripture says the girl immediately got up and began to walk around.

Just imagine how distraught and troubled Jairus must have been at what his daughter was facing. She was near death when he went to find Jesus, and he had just been told that his daughter had died once they returned.

But then Jesus said five words to him that changed everything. And those five words can be applied to our lives on a daily basis.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jairus had every reason in the world to be fearful of losing his daughter. But he also knew that Jesus could heal her, and ultimately, that Jesus was in complete control. All Jesus asked of him was to just have faith.

There are so many different situations in our lives that we ultimately realize that we have no control over. People show up to work only to be laid off of a job they’ve been working for decades. People go into a doctor’s office for a routine checkup only to leave with a scary, life-changing diagnosis.

But as Christians, we live with a constant reassurance that we have a guide. We have a friend looking out for our best interests. The Lord wants us to trust in him and follow the path that he has set out for every one of us.

There is so much power and freedom in being able to put your faith in Jesus and watch him work in your life. It’s a peace that fills your soul that is so calming and so abundant.

If you’re reading this today and you don’t know that peace that is found in Jesus, reach out to someone today who can help you find it. Whether that’s me or a trusted friend or family member…..whoever. There’s nothing Jesus wants more than to have a relationship with you, and there’s nothing you’ll ever do that’s more fulfilling.

For my fellow believers, never forget that you’re not alone in whatever you go through in life. Jesus has always been there and will always be there. When things get hard or uncertain, don’t be afraid. Just believe.