“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an 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… You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt. 5:38-44) Those are some of the most challenging verses in all the Bible. One young boy was asked to read this passage of scripture in church one Sunday. After finishing, he sat down next to his father and whispered, “Dad, on this one I think Jesus got it wrong.” That young boy expressed what many people think but are afraid to say. So how should we respond when we read a passage like the one above? Should we pretend that it is not really in the Bible? Should we act like we have mastered it and hope we are never put to the test? How about if we try responding with a level of honesty similar to the young boy. Only instead of saying, “Jesus got it wrong,” let’s try saying – “I can’t.” “I can’t,” it turns out, is a very effective way to connect with the power that is ours as people of faith in Christ. Much of what we read in the Bible is impossible for us without the power of God working in and through us. Anything that leads us to believe we can follow Christ, be truly good people or accomplish what has eternal significance, by depending only upon ourselves is fatally deceptive. An “I can’t” that connects us with Jesus’ “I can” is how faith works. I like to fence with a sword called an epee. An epee blade is made up of three parts – the strong part close to the hand guard is called the forte; the very end of the blade is called the tip; connecting the forte and the tip is something called the foible. Christ can be seen as the strength, the forte. The tip can be seen as the place of impact and influence. The middle part or foible can be seen as our “I can’t.” An epee blade without flexibility will break under pressure. Our “I can’t” is where flexibility enters our relationships with Christ. This is where we learn to trust in the strength of Christ and the will of God to make an impact according to His plan and not ours. Jesus knew that a common response to the commands of the Bible would be “I can’t.” That is exactly the response needed for making a connection with Christ that ensures a level of flexibility which is rooted in humility. When flexibility and humility are parts of our faith, we raise the bar on our discipleship.
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