Doing like Father

What is the difference between God and a consultant? …   God doesn’t think he’s a consultant!

Actually most consultants I’ve come across are really professional and caring, but there’s one who is unbelievably rude and singularly unhelpful. Loads of official complaints against him, but he still draws an enormous salary for insulting his patients. Doesn’t it make your blood boil?

Yet Jesus said we should love our enemies, and do good to, bless, pray for those who harm us (Matthew 5:43-48). And this would cover much worse situations than a rubbish health consultation. The Rabbinic tradition had come up with a much easier decree – to love neighbours and hate enemies. They hadn’t got it from anything God had told them, incidentally. Leviticus 19:18 taught them the ‘love your neighbour‘ bit, but they’d taken God’s commands to come against national enemies like the Amalekites and Canaanites, and applied it inappropriately to personal situations of hostility.

Instead Jesus reminded them how God loved all, and provided for all, righteous or unrighteous alike – fellow countryman or stranger, Jew or pagan – all. And he instructed us to do likewise – “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Copying him, wanting to be like him. That is serious worship.

It’s easy to love those who love you! I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine – works just fine the world over. But being the first one to show kindness, when you’ve been served rudeness, or hurt, or treated unfairly, or someone you love has been harmed – that is the real challenge. But it’s what God has consistently done throughout history, and most especially through Jesus. He loved me and sent Jesus to die for me, long before I gave a thought in his direction.

And he asks that I copy him. To love the unlovely, forgive the hurters, care about injustice, demonstrate his love to a hateful and hating world.

How would I respond if someone did something terrible to me or someone I love? I know what I should do – but would I be able? Well, v.48 instructs me to be perfect, like my heavenly Father; and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to give us power to be like him. So I must trust him for the grace to forgive even in such terrible situations.

And in the meantime, to be kind to those who I don’t honestly feel like being kind to – including rude consultants!

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