Things aren’t what they used to be. Things don’t go your way. Everything you hoped for or dreamed of is transformed. What you thought was supposed to be is not. Like an earthquake, the ground beneath you is moving—shifting in directions you hadn’t anticipated. Things are uncertain and there is no turning back. The former things have passed away.
Whether you’re the reason why things are changing or someone else or something else is the cause—It doesn’t matter. The world around you is different now, and there is nothing you can do about it. And you are not one for things to change, but you realize that you have to live with what happens next.
Even though most people are okay with living with the consequences of what happens next; we ask ourselves—What next?
Many of us will find ourselves in this situation in about four months. the outcome is still yet uncertain, but nonetheless we will feel the crush of the blow—a swift punch to the stomach. The wind will be taken out of us and we will start to see stars. Leaders will change. How we live will change. What’s most important to us will be challenged. When we wake up, we will ask ourselves—What Next?
How do we respond to situations, circumstances, and people when things don’t go our way? When it all seems lost?
Jesus has a solution for you.
Love your enemies.
The way of Jesus’ Kingdom.
The way of Jesus isn’t easy. Jesus never said it would be. In many ways his way isn’t natural to us—revenge, human justice, fighting fire with fire are more natural to us than loving your enemies and being generous especially when we gain nothing in return. Jesus asks his followers to do hard things. His way isn’t for everybody—it is hard, counter-intuitive, unfair, selfless, and God’s way.
I know it is not popular to love your enemies and live gernerously in this day and age. Today, the rhetoric is something more along the lines of cut those opposed to you, those who have differning opinions than to pieces with your sharp tongue or sword if you have one. We choose to defend ourselves, our family, and our friends with ways that hurt and destory—as if this world was all there ever will be.
If we respond in the way the world responds, then how are we different from the world?Sometimes the best weapons are not ones that cut, maime, or destory. Sometimes the best weapons are the ones that bring your enemies to your side.
Listen to Jesus words,
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” —Luke 6:27-36
What do you do with these words? What next?
I know some would respond by saying that Jesus doesn’t want us to be door mats, victims, or helpless. My response is this—Jesus doesn’t want you to be either, but the way of Jesus is never easy. It is outer-worldy. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense—it is not natural. Those who follow the way of Jesus are not of this world (Philippians 3:20 & John 18:36). We are either people of the kingdom of this world or we are people of the kingdom of heaven.
I need to say here: I struggle at times to live the way of Jesus. I want to defend vigorously, myself, my family, and my friends. And i want to do it the worlds way. I’m a fighter and defender. No one in their right mind would standby and watch the innocent be taken advantage or destroyed. We must ask ourselves why do we defend and fight? What causes us to feel the need to do so?
I have found that many who defend themselves or others do it with a heart of righting a wrong or proving their way is better, right, and just—it is done out of selfishness and self-rightous motives. This way only leads to destruction, and puts us in the place of God which is not our place.
The times are ‘a-changin.’ What was good is now evil and what was evil is now good. Wisdom, discernement and endurance is called for from God’s people to know how to appropriatly responding to these difficult and trying times (Revelation 13:1-18).
The way of Jesus—to love your enemies and live generously is his way of being in this type of atmosphere. We will either be people who obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus or not. Followers of Jesus should be the last people on earth to react out of fear and threat—it is troubling to see God’s people embrace leaders and systems that operate out of fear, threat, shame, and guilt. None of this reflects the character and heart of Jesus. So why should we, those who profess to follow the way of Jesus, embrace leaders and systems that are the opposite of Jesus and his way! Don’t be associated with bullies or you will become a bully.
Despite all the confusion. Despite all the many voices telling us how to respond to the ‘What Next?’ Jesus has a solution for you,
See to it that you invest in heavenly things that last forever, and not in things of this earth that deteriorate and fade—in other words do not operate the way the world does, instead love Jesus and love like him (Matthew 6:19-21).
Jesus conquered Sin, Satan, and Death. So why do you fear and tremble? His victory is your victory. It is complete and final. Do not be mislead. Do not be tricked. There is a right way and a wrong way to respond. If leaders, candidates, or other people aren’t speaking or living the mission of Jesus—then they aren’t speaking for him. Jesus mission and that of his followers is to love God and love your neighbors; Go and make disciples; Seek and save the lost; God reconciling himself to sinners through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—or however else you want to put it. This is what he is about and what he wants his people to be about. Nothing else matter—not your comfort, making America great again, Stronger together or any other catchy slogan.
Don’t get me wrong it’s good to be engaged and involved in politics, but if you’re a Jesus follower, your hope and salvation isn’t in any earthly man or woman; it’s in Jesus Christ. No earthly man or woman can satisfy your deepest needs, hurts, or desires like Jesus—the only one who brings true peace is the Prince of Peace. Ultimately it doesn’t matter who the next leader of this country is.
I like how my buddy Rob put it,
“If believers in the past could handle Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Xerxes, Antiochus Epiphanes, Nero, and Domitian, I think I can handle Trump or Clinton. Maybe the Church in America ought to take a deep breath and relax.”
So take a deep breath and relax. Understand God’s ways are not our ways. Jesus is Lord and King over all. Nothing gets by him. He is on your side. And his solution is better than yours. If you live in the way of Jesus you will be able to answer the question—What next?