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Nothing More, Nothing Less

November 8, 2008
By The Rev. Doug Jenkins, Co-interim Pastor of Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church

I am writing this article before this year's election results are known. I am writing hoping that the people I vote for will be the victors in each of their categories. I know that I will be disappointed if the ones for whom I voted are not elected. I also know that others may be disappointed if those I choose get into office.

So, I write this in anticipation, and in anxiety - waiting in prayer, and in hope.

I know the above "equations" may not seem to match. How can you be anxious and hopeful? How can one be anticipating and yet, be in prayer?

The truth is, we often look at life like it was composed of math equations - that each side of the equation is equal. We also have been taught that the world treats us the same way ...

If I do good - I will receive good. Or If I do bad - I will receive bad.

It is that "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" thing.

We get into difficulty when the equation doesn't balance - when there is a corruption of this system.

If I do good - bad gets tossed back at me. If I do bad - good comes my way.

We struggle when bad things happen to good people, as when cancer takes the life of a loved one, or confused and upset when good things happen in the lives of evil ones, as when Lehman Brothers CEOs receive golden parachutes, while making decisions which cost others everything.

This seems to go against what we have been taught and expect, and our faith and belief in a loving God begin to go negative.

It seems to be a corruption of what is Christian biblical witness. Actually, those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ expect this topsy-turvy of the world's ways. Christ explained it this way:

Do to others as you would have them do to you. "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the most high; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back" (Luke 6:31-38 NRSV).

The measure you give will be the measure you get back.

How many of us know that when we lend a friend $20, we expect that friend to repay us that amount. If we give our spouse a kiss, we expect the kiss to be responded to in kind. Nothing more, nothing less.

So why is it that we also forget the flip side of that equation - you know - if we hit someone, we expect to be punched in return?

It is when this doesn't happen that we think the system stinks. Jesus reminds us that the world is unfair, the ways of nature are chaos, and don't follow in neat packages. And besides, Jesus wasn't talking about getting the return in kind. The "getting back" involves just doing the right thing, even in spite of the situation, even when we don't expect anything to be given back to us.

So, we who are Christian know that there will be people upset with the election results. We need to be gentle with those who feel "lost." We will need to love - even though we may not be loved back. And if we are the upset ones, shouldn't we also know that our striking out won't be helpful or right?

Let us all seek the wisdom of Christ, who knows us, and our world very well. Give good to others, no matter what we expect to come back to us. Offer love and hope, to those who feel lost and alone, knowing that we would seek the same. In spite of what the world expects or deserves - it deserves God's best faith, love, hope.

(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)



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