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A Hole In A Door

“Ummm…Brian…I kicked a hole in your door.”

“What?  No way.  You’re just trying to get me to open up.”

“Nope.  I’m serious.”

I then laid down, because I was starting to crash coming down from the rush of adrenalin and sobering up to the reality of the trouble I was going to be in when my parents got home.  So I closed my eyes and hoped that when I woke up, it would have all been a dream.

When I was a kid, I was described as “having lots of energy”.  I was energetic, emotional, gregarious, and on occasion, known to be angry.  Now let me state, I was the instigator of most of the chaos and typical scuffles between me and my brothers.  I liked to poke the bear and get attention.  Also, my older brother, who is much more cool, calm, and collected than I ever was or will ever be seemed to like to watch me spiral out.

You know.  Brothers.

In the summertime my mom would make lists for us of chores we had to accomplish each day.  One of the regular chores I got was washing the floors.  Years later, I do wonder if my brothers just pretended to wash the floors badly so that it ended up on my list.  No matter, that was my chore.

One day when my mom was out running errands, we working around the house knocking out the chores we had and my brother started calling me “Cinderella” as I was washing the floor.  I am SURE I did something leading up to this to provoke this interaction…but for the life of me, I cannot remember.

I am also guessing if I had let that taunt roll off me, he wouldn’t have kept it up…but remember…energetic, emotional, and easily angered on occasion…so I couldn’t let it go.

All I remember was him teasing me, me chasing him to his room, him teasing me more, me kicking on the locked door to open up, him teasing me more…and suddenly my foot going through the door.

It was a back and forth, words and threats of violence, more words, and more physical demonstration of anger, followed by a minor “demo day” that started with my foot and a broken door.

We’ve been teaching through the Sermon on the Mount over the past month and this past week we looked at retaliation and love for our enemy.  This was one of those teachings that I thought, I don’t retaliate, I don’t hate…but as I wrestled through the words of Jesus more and more…I saw the retaliation and anger and violence and hate in my heart and mind.  I may not act upon it…but it’s not too far away.

When Moses taught about eye for an eye, he was giving a ceiling of how much someone could retaliate.  It was also out of a sense of control or awareness.  It was never meant to be a constant back and forth spiraling out of control, but if someone did something to someone else, that perpetrator could be punished up to the cost of whatever the initial infraction was.  No more.

And that was not necessarily the punishment they had to get, just up to that point.  It’s called retributive justice.

Then Jesus calls for us to turn the other cheek, to give your enemy who tries to sue you everything, and to go the extra mile to serve your enemy.

Each of the examples Jesus gives are sacrificial, force equitable treatment, and repay those who try to hurt and harm, with blessings and generosity.

It makes no sense.

Jesus calls us to live in such a way we subvert expectations, we do something entirely unexpected and preposterous to put a stop to evil.  We are called see others as created in the image of God and be reminded that Jesus practiced what he preached.  The truth is, even if we do those things, they will not necessary change the person doing evil and violence, but it will change us.

These ideas are so counter to what we want to hear or do.

We love the idea of “make ‘em suffer”, “let them never forget”, or “they won’t mess with us again”.  But these ideas of violence, retaliation, and revenge are inconsistent with the ways of Jesus.

The way of Jesus is bless your enemy, pray for your enemy, love those who persecute you, do not retaliate, do not fight back, and do not attack.

This does not mean it is chaos or everything is out of control or no one is held accountable.

Martin Luther King Jr, pastor, civil rights leader, and one of the great modern advocates on nonviolence certainly lived in such a way that called for people to be accountable for their actions, but not to respond with vengeance, not to respond out of anger, not to try to hurt, ruin, and destroy someone else.  King once said,

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

How can we live in such a preposterous way that we are recklessly loving, relentlessly generous, and radically gracious?

That way is the way Jesus lived and the way he calls us to live as well.

When I spiraled out with my brother and reshaped the door with my foot, I had lost control.  As being followers of Jesus, there is no better way to be like him, than demonstrating self-control in a world that has spiraled out.

I suddenly woke up when I heard my mom pull into the driveway that summer morning.

I realized it wasn’t a dream, I had gotten into a fight with my brother, I had ruined his bedroom door, and I was going to be in trouble.

I figured my only shot to reframe the situation is to be in control of the narrative.  So I ran out to the van she was driving, hustled to the drivers door, and opened it for her.

My mom looked at my likely guilty face that had NEVER rushed to open her door before and asked,

“what did you do?”

My parents were wildly gracious, kind, and forgiving.

I was grounded for a bit.

I lost my allowance until the new door was paid for.

I helped my dad install the new door.

I learned my lesson.

I have never kicked a hole in a door since…

We are always meant to be growing, to be learning, to becoming more like Jesus.

Christian perfection, sanctification, and other words are used to describe what it means to be spiritually formed in the likeness of Jesus.

Jesus ended that whole teaching with a call to be perfect, like our Heavenly Father is perfect.

The word perfect in greek is “teleios” and it means full or complete or whole.  The calling Jesus gives is, be faithfully the full image of God, complete in God;

Not culturally what you think you should be, not politically what your party says to do, not what your social media feed or current news fascination dwells upon…but be fully like God…so that, when people see you they see the resemblance to God…and do you remember what the image of God looked like lived out?

It looked a lot like Jesus…like a lot…some may say exactly…

Our calling from Jesus is not to fight, but to love.  And how do we know what love is?  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, therefore we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

This non-violent, loving way is not some social or political agenda, it is Jesus’ agenda and way, it is what he teaches, what he does, and what he calls us to do.

Where do we start?  By praying for those we don’t like. I know…not exactly fun…

I challenged you on Sunday to write down the names of the people you struggle with this week and begin your prayer time with them.

If you want to push yourself a bit, don’t just pray for them daily, but look for tangible ways to love and bless them.

This will change you, likely change them, and impact the world around you.

I hope you will continue on the journey to be more like Jesus in all areas of your life, so that when people see you, they catch a glimpse of God and God’s incredible love.

This Sunday we are back with another teaching from the Sermon on the Mount.  Our friend and regular Chapel preacher, Branden Campbell will be with us.  Branden, his wife Katie, and their kids are a part of our community and a blessing to so many in this area.  You may know Katie, because she leads the ministry 30A Prays and we partner with them regularly.

In fact this Tuesday we have our Noon Prayer time at The Chapel led by Katie Campbell.  Come and go as you need and want to, but don’t pass up a great opportunity to spend time in quiet prayer, reflection, and turning your heart to God.

Let us know if you need anything.  We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday for Noon Prayer and I look forward to you hearing from Branden this Sunday at worship.

And if you have kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews who occasionally kick holes in doors, be like my parents with them, be kind, be gracious, be forgiving, show them the love of Jesus and don’t give up hope.

They may end up being a pastor and using you in a sermon…