Just Halfway

Scripture: Matthew 5: 38-42, NIV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

There is a riddle I learned in the fifth grade. It goes, “how far can a dog run into the woods?” The answer is half-way because to go any further the dog would be running “out” of the woods. Seems kind of obvious when you think about it but this riddle and others were used to build the bridge from arithmetic to algebra; in essence going from the realm of the concrete to the world of ideas.

Too many times we think of the Christian life as essentially becoming involved in political, economic, or social issues. These concerns can wear us out and result in depression or in activity that keeps the church intact or “doctrinally” pure. Our primary orientation can’t be an institution, a great cause or even people, but first and foremost to God.

One of the first lessons God uses in training our wills is in making us go half-way with him. He puts us through various disciplines to see if we are worthy of making his team. And after a time of learning this lesson we then discover that God goes all the way with us. Again and again he gives us far more than we have any right to ask. We call this “Grace” which goes so much further than “the law” requires he should go. In fact we find that God’s mercy goes so much further than human justice.

And then there are the many times when God gives us the opportunity to go all the way with him. He did that with Job. He did it with Abraham. He used this method as a school for the greatest leaders in the faith. One of the greatest privileges he may give you – if he is preparing you for great leadership – is the opportunity sometime of going all the way with him.

But be careful - Grace is the soul of the struggle. No matter how painstaking the work, if we forget to surrender ourselves to God while performing it, we fail to attract God’s grace, and our efforts build up within us not so much a true spirit of grace but the spirit of a Pharisee.

How far can a Christian go in this life? “All the way my Savior leads me!” From law to grace; from half-way to all-the-way.

Prayer: Saint Ignatius

Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest: 
to give and not to count the cost; 
to fight and not to heed the wounds; 
to toil and not to seek for rest; 
to labour and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing that we do thy will, 
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.