Jesus can be hard to figure out sometimes – and hard to get along with.
- He tells us that if we have two coats, we’re supposed to give one of them to someone who doesn’t have a coat (for the record, I have two cars, three guitars, and more coats than I can count).
- He tells us that when someone hits us, we’re not to hit back, but let them hit us again on the other cheek (yes, I know there are all kinds of discussions about the significance of ‘left cheek’ and ‘right cheek’, but the glaring reality is – no hitting back!).
- He tells us not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth, because (get this) it’s a less secure investment than treasures in heaven!
- He tells us not to walk around in long robes and let people call us ‘Father’ (seen any small ‘c’ ‘catholic’ services lately?) or ‘Teacher’ (which is what ‘Doctor’ means – seen any staff lists at huge evangelical churches lately?).
- He tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who hate us (imagine the President of the United States ending his speeches with ‘God bless you and God bless the State of Iran’!).
- He tells us that when we give a banquet, we aren’t to invite our friends and rich neighbours, who can invite us back in their turn; instead, we’re to invite the poor and needy and homeless and orphans and widows, who can’t invite us back.
- He tells us that we’re not to divorce our spouses (with the sole possible exception of when the marriage bond has already been broken by adultery).
- He tells us that not killing people is only the beginning; we’re not to get angry with them or call them names, because that’s murdering them in our hearts.
- He tells us that if we see someone who’s hungry or thirsty or in need of clothes, or sick or in prison, and refuse to help them, we’ve refused to help him.
- He tells us that if we’re his disciples we’re supposed to go and make more disciples for him.
- He tells us that if we love members of our family more than we love him, we’re not worthy of him.
- He tells us to be like the flowers and birds and trust God to provide for us, rather than spending all our time worrying about food and clothing.
- He tells us that if anyone wants to be the most important person, they should be the servant of all. Note: he’s not saying that if you serve others, you’ll be rewarded with an important position; he’s saying that if you serve others, you’re already in the highest position.
- He tells us to use simple, unadorned speech, and not to swear any oaths, because everyone should know that if we say ‘yes’, we mean ‘yes’, and if we say ‘no’, we mean ‘no’.
- He tells us not to expect that everyone will be jumping for joy because we’re his followers; rather, we should expect to be a minority, and a minority that frequently annoys people to the point that they try to get rid of us.
No wonder governments and churches have trouble with the teaching of Jesus. Plus, if we work hard enough at annoying him, he tends to start throwing tables around…!