On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.
“If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
“Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.”
Too often in our day we make following Jesus sound easy. We make it cheap. Following Jesus is sold as the solution to life’s ills. Trust Christ and you will experience God’s wonderful plan for your life.
It turns out that the wonderful plan is rooted in pain, hardship, and suffering.
Sounds great right? Where do I sign up?
We read the Bible and find out that following Jesus is difficult. Instead of protecting us from the darkness we are lead into it as the light. Loving your neighbor and loving your enemy are brutally difficult concepts to embrace. There is nothing easy about either one. Love is a decision we make to help others flourish as image bearers of God. This decision means, almost always, being willing to set aside our wants and desires. It almost always means setting aside our ego.
That last line, “Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.”
There is no question about who will be refined, all of us will. What can we do in the midst of that? Preserve the peace by becoming that which preserves. In a more literal translation the word that Peterson renders as “preservative” is “salt.” Jesus is telling his followers to be salt. Be the very thing that preserves and flavors the world.
I think what Jesus is calling us to here is to become “wounded healers.” Henri Nouwen introduced this concept to me through his writings. This is the idea that all of us are walking wounded. We have in some way experienced pain, hardship, and trials. In short, we have wounds. As we heal from those wounds we can respond in one of two ways. We can become wounded healers are healed wounders. The healed wounder swings his healing like a club expecting everyone else to be healed just like them. The wounded healer still recognizes the reality of her pain and comes alongside the other with empathy and compassion.
Where am I on this scale? Am I a wounded healer or a healed wounder? There are times I’ve been both. I’m trying to grow in my empathy and compassion. It is a struggle and a journey. How about you? Where are you in the journey?