Jesus’s Toughest Commandment

Jesus’s Toughest Commandment

Some years ago I wrote a song called “(If Christ Had Not Been) Born a Baby.” The first stanza goes like this:

If Christ had not been born a baby,
Fully human and yet still fully God;
Had He not lived and died as a man,
Then how would God know what we feel?

Whenever I sing that at our church’s weekly nursing home ministry, I invariably introduce it by saying that Jesus isn’t just my Savior, but my role model. Since He was the only perfect person ever to live on earth, that makes sense, doesn’t it? If I pattern my life after Jesus’s–if I say and do the kinds of things He said and did–how can I go wrong?

Forgive me for breaking out laughing. Please. It’s just that I’m all too aware of my shortcomings and the many ways I fail to live as godly a life as I want to live. The apostle Paul knew what he was talking about when he said something to this effect:

I do the things I mean to keep from doing, and I fail to do the things I intend to do.

That describes me to at T at times, and–if I’m not being too presumptuous–it probably describes all Christians. No wonder people often describe us as hypocrites. They look at the way Christ lived and see how far each of us misses the mark by comparison.

Christianity isn’t a religion. It doesn’t have a strict set of rules and regulations. It’s a relationship with God through faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. And there’s really only one two-part rule:

Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus even gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate the fact that everyone we have contact with is our neighbor. But He took it a step further by telling us to love our enemies.

Love our enemies? How impossible does that sound!

I don’t really have any personal enemies. Or, if I do, they simply avoid me rather than demonstrating their hostility. As a true conservative, however, I look at the far left and cringe at the things those people stand for. Not to mention the things they’re doing to try to destroy this country.

If I have enemies, it’s those people. Shouldn’t I have the right to hate them?

Hmm. Not if I pay close enough attention to Jesus’s words on the cross when He prayed for the Romans who were crucifying him:

Forgive them, Father, for they don’t  know what they’re doing.

Whoops! If Jesus could do that, what’s my excuse?

But, Lord, Jesus was still God even though He was also human.

Then a still small voice whispers in my ear. “What about Stephen, who was martyred for his faith and for preaching the Gospel? He was only human and he prayed the same prayer Jesus did while being stoned to death.”

Okay, Lord, Jesus really does want us to love our enemies as well as our friends. But it’s tough! The very people I know I’m not supposed to hate really anger me at times–most of the time, in fact. How can I love them when I don’t even know them, anyhow? I just know I keep seeing them do the very things I disapprove of so much.

That same still small voice whispers back, “Start with the one who angers you the most. Pray for him or her on a regular basis. Seek to understand that person and pray for me to accomplish good in and through that person’s life.”

I chose someone–who it is is between me and God–and started praying. Praying sincerely on that person’s behalf is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as Christian. But I believe it’s also going to be one of the most fulfilling.

Do you have someone you consider an enemy? Perhaps someone who’s extra-hard to get along with, but who you must see and perhaps work with on a regular basis. Try praying for that person.

Jesus did it. Stephen did it. And I’m doing my best to do it. Give it a try.

Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t change the person you’re praying for, however. But don’t be too shocked if it changes YOU.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

Links you might be interested in:


I Need a Change from Change

ti-994a     VAX      newToshiba

When I started taking computer programming classes at Chesapeake College (Wye Mills, MD), the only computer I had at home was a TI/99 (if I recall the model correctly), which had 64k of memory. It didn’t come with any type of monitor or storage, so I had to use my black-and-white TV to see what there was to see and a reel-to-reel tape recorder to save the first program I coded—a game of Yahtzee.

At Chesapeake College, I was introduced to the wonders of Apple and IBM personal computers that were much more advanced than what I had at home. And then came the most wondrous of new computers—Apple’s McIntosh. That was what I was dying to have if I ever had enough money for a real computer.

When I started working at the International Mission Board, personal computers were few and wide-spread. Employees had to need to do something that couldn’t be done on those fancy new DEC VAX mini-computers. But at least there was a “Special Equipment Room” where I could go to create and properly format my contribution to the Office Automation portion of the national DECUS newsletter.

More and more personal computers started coming into the building. The VAXs became less and less important as more of the IMB’s applications could be shared internally–or even internationally, if needed–via the Web.

By that time, I had used some of an inheritance to buy my first “real” personal computers—I think they were HP and DEC—one for each of two rooms. I eventually connected them by Ethernet cable. We finally broke down and connected to the Internet—by dial up modem, as I recall.

Personal computers became so prevalent that people started leaving the “personal” off when referring to them. Windows became one of the chief operating systems, and the rest is history.

So why do I need a change from change when everything seems so tidy now?

Hmm. Could it be because I just bought a new Toshiba laptop that came with the Windows 8 operating system when I absolutely LOVED the XP system on my old Dell and tolerated Windows 7 on my Toshiba netbook? Or is it because—after years of satisfaction with my 2003 copy of Word Office—I also upgraded to Office 2013? (At least I had a choice about that.)

Looking back at my purchases, made just a week ago, I almost have to laugh. Almost.

I had to admit that the new Toshiba booted up MUCH faster than the Dell, but what in the world? There was no Start button at the bottom left to locate and run my applications. Instead, there was a Start screen. I finally learned that one of the icons would take me to my desktop, and I didn’t waste any time searching out a non-Microsoft free download that would give me that Start button functionality again.

I also quickly researched how to turn off the built in mouse pad. I prefer a wireless mouse, but—more important—my dog kept changing what was on my screen by constantly nosing the mouse pad.

I admit I really like some of the Windows 8/Office 2013 features. Scrolling by using the touch screen is really nice. So is having the word count at the bottom of the screen in Word—a word count that automatically updates.

I was able to simply copy some of my favorite programs from the Dell and find that they still worked in Windows 8. But not all of them, and one that used to be free no longer is. I won’t be disposing of the Dell anytime soon, I’m afraid.

In short, I’m still learning. But I’m ready for things to quit changing. I recently ran across a saying that seems all too applicable to me. “You can teach an old dog new tricks, but only if they’re easy tricks.”


Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Because I’ve used up all of my songs, I revise and repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.

Best regards,