How It’s Supposed To Be

Growing up, my brother and I couldn’t have been more different.  He was older than me by three years but it looked like 15.  He was born with armpit hair, began shaving in kindergarten, and looked like Tom Selleck by Jr. High.

I, on the other hand, had more delicate features.  You might call them… feminine.  Our sister was 2 years younger than me and I was constantly being asked if we were twins.  It didn’t help that my mom had given me that haircut that made boys look like Dorothy Hamill and girls look like Pete Rose.

My man-brother was good at sports, school, and Atari, pretty much everything important.  I didn’t seem to be very good at much except crying.

My brother was very patient, but there were days that I was just asking for a beating.  He could do whatever he wanted to me since I was basically just a head with arms and legs. One day, “for no reason”, he threw me across the yard into the arborvitae.  It must have looked like Bruce Jenner had shot put Hayley Mills into orbit.

I had to get him back.

My primate instincts told me to seek out tools, I still remember my hands slipping around the grip of a red plastic Fat Bat.  With no real chance of mounting a frontal assault, I laid in wait at the end of our long hallway.  My heart was racing as I prepared for combat.   I knew I’d have to strike hard and fast, hoping the initial assault would be damaging enough that the altercation would be over as quickly as it began.  As the footsteps grew closer I prepared to strike. I timed my swing perfectly.  As the bat came down, I remember feeling it crumple as it flattened…

…over the head of my little sister.

In that moment I wished that I hadn’t developed a policy of conflict retaliation.  Hitting him seemed like a fantastic idea before things got ugly, if someone is your enemy you let them have it.  How will they know you despise them if you don’t do something to show it?  It seems right, because it feels right.

We’re probably in agreement that this is the way that life works.  Whether it’s a look, a gesture, or a word, we find ways to communicate our displeasure.  In fact, if you perform poorly, you expect to be torn apart for it…

…because that’s the way life is.

I’m struck by the fact that when Jesus came to earth, he didn’t just carry on the way things were. In “making all things new”, Jesus was constantly encountering “the way things are”, yet calling people to the “way things are supposed to be.”

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… …God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good… If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?… -Matthew 5

This is a tremendous departure from human standards of goodness.   You’ve probably heard someone defend themselves by saying, “I’m not a bad person, I provide for my kids, love my wife, I’m a good friend, etc…”. Jesus calls that self-justification, effectively saying that his followers shouldn’t expect any credit for doing something that even the worst people do.

In the eyes of Jesus, how we interact with our enemies is the defining human relationship of a believer.

As leaders, how do we move beyond “how things are” and lead people into how things should be”?  According to Jesus, it begins with love and prayer.   Praying for our enemies is one of the most scandalous commands Jesus makes.  It’s scandalous because Jesus asks us to start the process of Christian living by praying with our enemies in mind.

I think we probably should admit that the last thing we usually pray about when it comes to conflict with our enemies is them.  Oh we pray, but it’s usually;  “Take this away from me”, or “Give me justice”.  Jesus turns our prayers upside down, and I’ll tell you why;  because Christianity isn’t natural, it’s supernatural.  We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit operating in the heavenly realm.  When we come to God in prayer, supernatural change occurs, and do you know where it occurs most often? It happens in our hearts.  Prayer aligns our heart with God’s.  Jesus demonstrates this when he prays, “not my will God, but yours.”

Too often leaders focus on the changes we want to see in the people around us, when what God really wants to do is change our hearts.  He wants to lead us away from “the way things are”.

If your life or ministry are beset by an enemy that you can’t love, start praying for them.  You can’t continually pray for them without experiencing a heart change towards them. That’s when we leave “how it is” behind, and move into how it’s supposed to be.”

The beauty is that “how it’s supposed to be” is usually the way that God wants it.

What new thing is he doing in you?

3 Responses to “How It’s Supposed To Be”

  1. Sharon O February 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    When I first read this in the beginning I was doing a laugh along with you then it became serious and oh so ‘heart’ moving. Yes love your enemies…pray for those who knowingly hurt you. How do we do that? Jesus turns our prayers upside down. Oh so true. Our prayers are for His GLORY to be revealed. You have challenged me. I have ‘internal work to do.’ thank you

  2. Officer Jon Baker February 10, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    Let’s get together a crew to get Jon a new wiffle ball bat. Above we have one of those red plastic knock-off ones, that look just look the part from afar. The real jumbo red ones can take a dent in the end, while these ones crack instead. Plus the weighting, shape, and handle are just plain off. Besides, on this one, if you hit anything other than a plain wiffle ball, the seam will split and game is over. Not to used as a weapon, as this version has thicker plastic and will leave a welt.

    Here’s the real red one:

    (Alas, the jumbo red wiffle ball bat image options on the web are sorely lacking.)

    Of course the best ones are the original yellow thin ones:

    But if you tape it up around the sweet spot it is more likely to be used as a weapon.

    Never to be used on your enemies; only for sport and camaraderie. (Wonder what Jesus would have said to a group of us 8th graders playing wiffle ball all summer in the neighbor’s front lawn.)

    Better red jumbo wiffle ball bats.

    That’s just how it is supposed to be.

    • Jon February 10, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      I would follow Officer Jon Baker on… wait a minute.

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