John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Matthew 25:35-36, 40 I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…Truly, I say to you, as you did to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.
Matthew 5:44 I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Deuteronomy 24:14 You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners (aliens) who are in your land within your towns.
Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.
Acts 4:44-45 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
What if these verses weren’t in the Bible? Would life look any different for you than it does now. Or, do you already live like they aren’t there? I’m guilty. How about you?
I won’t run off a list of scriptures that talk about how God’s forgiven us for our sin and did so through the sacrifice of His own Son. But I will ask, what if you and I forgave others to the extent God has forgiven us?
Some of this depends on how you view yourself in relation to God. If you don’t believe in God this ‘what if’ falls short. But even if you don’t, pretend you do. Just for a minute, buy into the belief that sin is a willful decision to violate the word of God. In essence, sin is like spitting in the face of a parent or guardian who is trying to protect you by setting boundaries. We’ve all done that at some level.
Yet regardless of the seriousness of our sin, God forgives. Through Jesus, God absorbs the insult, absorbs the rebellion, absorbs the slap in the face, and He offers reconciliation, relationship, and redemption. What if today you did that? Is there someone who has wronged you and doesn’t deserve your forgiveness but would be humbled by your gracious offer of it? Maybe they wouldn’t be humbled, but would it release you from the bitterness and anger you harbor as a result of not offering forgiveness?
What if you forgave…what if I forgave? Could that possibly uproot some of the hatred or anger in the world?
I’ve heard this question asked before numerous times. The follow up question is this: “Would the world know it was gone? Would the community miss it?” While I’m sure plenty of ‘good’ stuff happens on a weekend at many churches, I think the most honest answer for most of these same churches would be: “No and no.” That is to say, the community has not been radically altered because of the dedication and commitment of the members of said church. The world has not been influenced in the least because the Christians coming out of our churches are so radically different than the world.
That’s not to say some communities wouldn’t miss your Christmas program or Easter cantata. But what would be lacking if your church vanished? How would that affect the local government? Homeless shelters? Food banks? Foster systems? Orphanages? the elderly? Homes for the mentally disabled? etc…
So, what if your church disappeared? Any considerable, noteworthy reason for panic on behalf of the people around the community, city, world?
The whole just war/pacifist debate has been raging, even if under the radar, for centuries. I don’t really know where I stand in great detail at this point. I do think, however, the world is quick to go to war. As a follower of Christ, this is unsettling. As a follower of Christ, I read a lot about peace from the life and ministry of Jesus. When it comes to questions of when war is justifiable and what role Christians should have in military, I’m not prepared necessarily to address just yet.
But what I can say with confidence, and with all seriousness, is in the form of a ‘what if.’ What if, at the very least, Christians agreed we wouldn’t kill each other?
Professor and author (and pacifist) Stanley Hauerwas has a poster on his office door (perhaps similar to the one pictured) that reads as follows: “A modest proposal for peace: let the Christians of the world resolve not to kill each other.”
Now this may sound like a given, like an unnecessary message. But is it? If one says, “Of course we won’t kill each other!” How does one know if the other is a Christian?
You’re smart enough to see the far-reaching implications of this proposal. I won’t spend time fleshing these out.
But I’ll leave you with the ‘what if’…what if Christians agreed to not kill each other? Would that make a dent in the violence we see all around us? Would it make a dent in the violence we see within ourselves?
That’s not a fun question is it? But what if…
What would people think? “Thank God he’s gone!” “She’s going to be missed by many.”
What would God say when you stared him in the face (whatever that face is)?”Well done.” “I never knew you.”
What legacy would you leave? “Xbox 360 champion.” “Servant of the least of these.” “Devoted mother and wife.”
What mark would you leave? “Wealthy but stingy.” “Poor but generous.” “Selfless to the end.” “Unceasing worshiper.” “Joyful in all circumstances.”
What would you regret? “I didn’t spend enough time loving my wife.” “I didn’t serve others enough.” “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”
It’s that last question I want to spend more time contemplating and then, in a sense, reverse engineer my life so that I don’t have those regrets. Jonathan Edwards created a list of resolutions (I’d encourage you to read them) that he would review weekly. He was intentional in the way he surveyed his life–and the fruit of such intentionality is evident.
What would you regret at this point?