Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Easy Street?

(Read Matthew 22:34-40)

No tricks, no hidden meanings, no theological puzzles which take centuries to unravel. Just two short verses, two commandments, two easy steps to follow through life. If only it were that easy!

It would be easy to love God, if God would answer every prayer, would turn a blind eye to some of the things we do, would be that jolly old fellow with a belly-deep laugh and a twinkle in his eye. But God has a funny way of thinking that we should be involved in solving prayers, that everything we do (good and bad) is part of our life-long struggle with faith, that God might just not slide easily into some picture frame we have designed out of our needs.

It would be easy to love our neighbors if they would just be a little bit more loveable. Think what it would be like to have Mother Theresa living next door, instead of the curmudgeon who grumbles every time kids play in their backyards. Or what if Brad Pitt moved onto our
street with his commitment and zeal to shaping a greener world, but we get saddled with the fellow who runs his sprinklers 12 hours a day in the hottest and driest part of the summer.

And it would be a whole lot easier to love ourselves if we were just someone else, wouldn't it!?!

Two short verses, two simple commandments, two easy steps on the path of love which we can walk to get to Bethlehem.

If only it were that easy!

When Eugene Peterson paraphrased this passage in The Message, he calls these commandments "pegs." I like that.

Because if we can love God, when we need that grace to forgive ourselves for the foolish words we speak, for the mean ways we can treat people, for the ease with which we slip off the path to the kingdom, we will find it hanging on that peg. And if we can learn to love ourselves as much as God loves us, then when we reach for that kindness, that joy, that peace which we know our neighbors need, we will find them hanging there as well. And if we can, day in and day out, chance after chance, love others as deeply as we love ourselves, than we will know we truly love God, as we walk the path of love..

Prayer: It probably isn't easy at times to love us, Advent's Heart, but you continue to persist in feeling that way and then living out that love in us. Help us to make the less than easy choice to be as loving as you are, towards our neighbors, ourselves, and especially you. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

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