Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rules, Radical Love and Right Relationships, by Abbe Golden

In reading the scriptures in preparation for this Sunday, I found the idea of rules and radical love an interesting juxtaposition. We’ve all grown up with rules, whether at home or school, and are bound by the laws of the land. And most of us are very aware of the laws and commandments of God. I like to tell you that I followed the rules when I was younger because I was (and still am) this wonderful, dutiful, responsible, respectful, loving, wonderful Christian person. Hmmm…. anybody buying this? Probably not. The reality for most of us, if not all of us, is that we learned to follow the rules so we didn’t get into trouble. Oh, sure some of them made sense and we knew some were for our safety and some were made to keep our parents and teachers sane. But did we ever go above and beyond what was required just because it might be the good thing or the right thing to do?

That is the whole point of the Matthew scripture. Anyone can follow the rules. But what happens when you go above and beyond and what’s your reasoning for doing so? When your parents gave you chores did you ever do more than what was asked of you? Sometimes you say… So was it because you had this strong moral sense of doing the right thing or was it because you were buttering up your parents to increase your allowance? Did your parents ever wonder and say, “What’s got into that kid?”

One of the definitions of radical is a person who follows their strong convictions. When do we transition from doing things because it keeps us out of trouble or provides a reward to doing things because we feel, we know, that it’s just the right thing to do? When do we start doing the things mentioned in scripture expecting nothing in return: reconcile to your brother or sister, turn the other cheek, pray for your enemies, give your cloak as well. How does this nurture right relationships with others?

Before my mother passed away she lived with me for 3 and ½ years. My students would ask me if that was an easy thing to do, taking care of her at my house. I would honestly reply that no, it wasn’t always easy, that sometimes it was very difficult. They would then ask me why I did it. My response…doing what’s right doesn’t always mean doing what’s easy.

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