Matt. 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
Matt. 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
John 3:17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
When I was growing up, my parents really wanted me to stay away from dangerous situations. I’m sure all of us want that for our children. So why is it that some people grow up to take dangerous jobs? According to Business Insider, the 8 most dangerous jobs in America are
8. Farmers and ranchers
7. Delivery drivers
6. Iron and steel workers
5. Garbage and recycling collectors
3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
2. Fishing and jobs like it
1. Logging. Lumberjacks are almost 38 times more likely to have a fatal injury than the national average.
When I was growing up, my parents would have said that these folks were “playing with fire.” Imagine my surprise when among Jesus’ bad habits, I saw that Jesus could be dangerous. Bad habit? It seems like a bad idea! But living dangerously is one of those counter-intuitive pieces of Jesus’ life that could rearrange the way we live. How could Jesus be dangerous?
First, Jesus could be dangerous because He called for people to care less about religion and more about a relationship with God. That was scary for people who built their identities around doing all the things that made it look like they were tight with God. Jesus was big on people not just avoiding what was wrong, but becoming what was right. The rules said, “Love your friends and hate your enemies” but Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who are after you.” Well, that’s crazy talk! Who loves their enemies? God does…. oh …. so if we really know God, if God really matters to us, then we don’t just want the appearance of being a Christ-like person, we actually want to know Jesus, actually want to love our enemies and pray for those who are after us. Today, how is your heart with God?
Second, Jesus could be dangerous because he reminded people to go all in. God doesn’t want us to just be nice, to do a few good things, to change a few bad habits. As Leonard Sweet says, “Jesus wanted them to change everything—mind, heart, and soul.” When I was a teen-ager, I was part of an amazing youth group. We had as many as 35–40 teens every week, and I ran for President ahead of my senior year. My opponent was Mark, and he was super popular, but sometimes cruel and would exclude people from the “in” crowd. I delivered a great campaign speech about being inclusive and wanting to learn more about each other and God, and I totally lost. I was really mad at Mark, and mad at God. The first youth group retreat we went on after that, we had communion on the last night, and as usual the youth group officers were going to distribute the bread and cup. And then I realized that meant Mark was going to be giving me communion…and I almost walked out. In that moment, I discovered that I was enjoying being angry at Mark and at God, and I didn’t want to give that anger up. I said that I wanted to follow Jesus, to have Him be the Lord of my whole life, but really, I just wanted to keep this angry place for myself. Was I really going to let my anger come between me and God? God opened my eyes to see that communion was His and that I had to let go of that anger, to receive grace from the hand of someone I thought of as an enemy. That night, for the first time, I gave God my anger, and learned at least a little, how to love my enemies. Even after all these years, I am still trying to learn how to let Jesus truly be the Lord of all my life. Today, have you let Jesus into every area of your life?
Finally, Jesus could be dangerous because He was the Truth and He lived it all the time. Being truly good, and being that way all the time will threaten people. One of Dad’s old youth group became a new man thanks to Jesus. Phil worked in the Navy shipyard in San Diego, one of the biggest shipyards in the world. When he worked, he worked hard, he did the best that he could, and he was always honest. After being on the job for a few days, some of his co-workers grumbled at him for working so hard. He was making them look bad. After a few weeks, he received his first threat. So was Phil doing anything wrong? No, actually he was just doing what everyone should. He didn’t think of himself as doing anything special, but he was dangerous. In the same way, just by living a life of truth, Jesus shined a light into people’s lives. Some people welcomed the light, for it showed them the path ahead. Some people hated the light, because it showed how flawed they were, and they did not want to see—they wanted to choose their own selfish way, instead of the way of God. Jesus was dangerous. He had to be stopped, and so they killed Him. To live the truth all the time, is always dangerous. Today, are you comfortable with Jesus shining the light of truth on all that you do? Will you live a life dedicated to the truth of Jesus’ love for you and everyone?
We all internalize the messages of our parents—“Stay safe.” “Don’t play with fire”—and they are right as far as they go. But Jesus came to show us how far we have yet to go. Leonard Sweet continues, Jesus “didn’t want to just make a difference in the world; he wanted to make a different world.” And there are powers that don’t want to change. This week, one of the great men of our nation, Elijah Cummings passed away. He represented one of the poorest, roughest districts in Baltimore and he was one of the lions of the House of Representatives. He once said, “Most people who are hating on you, they are not worried about where you are. They’re worried about where you’re going.” True and lasting change comes to us when we let God ease our fears and uncertainties, to recognize that grace is really how the world works. Today, Jesus calls us to live dangerously, to live lives so dedicated to the truth. sacrifice and kindness that other people realize the folly of their greed, selfishness and little deceptions. Today, Jesus calls us to live dangerously, to not just give God a Sunday here or there, but every day, asking God to direct our paths and show God’s grace. Today, Jesus calls us as a community to belong to God so completely, to be so full of God’s passion for changing lives that we are actually changing the world. It could be dangerous. But isn’t that where the adventure begins?