Recently, I was at a popular Mason City coffee shop. At the tray basket return was a little marker, “Place your trays here. Make your mother proud.”
As a mother and daughter, I found this funny, a light quip to remind everyone to tidy after themselves.
I am also reminded my mother expressed her pride in us, in small doses for high achievement. We would get a smile of pride or a word of praise for graduation, marriage, being hired, completing a difficult task. Mom was proud of us for extraordinary events, not for just being the person she raised us to be.
Perhaps we have come to believe every small achievement is worthy of large praise, a medal or whatnot. We undervalue ourselves, sell ourselves chap if we expect praise for everyday living as good people.
Jesus says to a large crowd, including his disciples, “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5. 48 NRSV) Perfect? That is a far cry from everyday good is it not? Jesus is telling the crowd, it is not enough to simply obey the laws, we must reach for the underlying love that forms the law and abide with God in such perfection. To love all – neighbor, brother, sister, enemy or those who working to harm you, is much more difficult and that is what God desires.
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God made us good, in God’s own image. A reflection of God’s own self. Therefore, simply being okay or not actively bad/evil is not enough. We are called to be more, much more, to strive for God’s perfection and especially God’s perfect love.
I understand wanting to surround ourselves only with those who agree with our politics or social mores. I do not want to be near someone who wants me dead or imprisoned for my life and choices.
We as Christians are called to a higher life and when they go low, we are to go high, very high, aiming for God’s perfect love. Christians have through the ages exhibited such great love even at the cost of their lives.
For example, Preemptive Love Coalition, a US-Iraqi NPO that brings food and water to those in need, even ISIS fighters Lebanese Christians helping Syrian refugees after years of being persecuted by those same Syrians. The list is long reaching back and forward for all eternity.
Difficult and worthy is God’s call – Be perfect in love, as is your Father in heaven, make your Father/Mother proud.