Matthew 5:38-48 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ 39 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 ” Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
43 ” You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” NASU
In answering the question, “What is different or distinctive in Christians?” we have turned to the Early Church to examine their distinctiveness. The first area or characteristic in them was their Devotion to or Specialization in Brotherliness. They Loved!
Another characteristic found in them was that they not only wanted to follow Jesus they wanted to reproduce and manifest Him. Their mission, desire, and objective were to inform everyone about Jesus and Salvation. They wanted to introduce everyone to Jesus and help them experience this Grace. They wanted to include everyone so that people would become the Body of Christ not divided or sectarian.
That objective was incredibly costly. Not so much in terms of money but in what it cost them personally. There is a wide gate and an easy way that leads to death, but the path Jesus wants for us is narrow and defined. It is living differently. It involves a level of self-denial and cross-bearing. There is no cheap or easy way to live this life. But the rewards are incredible.
The Goal of Reproducing Christ in this world is a top priority of the Father. The early church was motivated to follow God fully and completely regardless of what they faced or encountered. I know many believers, even some preachers, who have the idea that Christians are to be pampered and should enjoy trouble-free lives. I’ve been told, in the time of trouble, that if I was in the will of God there would be no trouble.
If the early church is an example and pattern for today that theory is blown out of the water. They were Stoned (not high on drugs but pelted with rocks). Some were sawn asunder (ropes and horses pulling them apart). They were tempted and tried, slain by the sword, and beheaded. Persecution was their cup, trials, and troubles a regular part of their lives.
The difference – They were not stopped by this but continued to proclaim the Gospel in the Name and in Honor of the Lord Jesus! They never prayed for escape but for the opportunity to take the Gospel to whomever, wherever, and whenever. If you will recall their prayer in Acts 4:29, “Lord, behold their threatenings…” Who was threatening them? The same people who crucified Jesus! They faced real danger, but their prayer was, “Grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence…” AMAZING! They wanted to manifest and reproduce Jesus in the lives of others and were not interested in ease but Revival.
That is the way of Christ. It is never self-preservation but the perpetuation of the Message of Hope in the Gospel. They experienced difficulty, but they had something others did not have – Joy & Peace! They were so joyous that the town folks accused them of tipping the bottle and being drunk. They were full of wine but not that which comes out of a bottle it was the New Wine of the Holy Spirit. They were intoxicated with God and never got sober! This New Wine flowed out of their innermost being and became a river of Life spilling out to whoever would hear and obey.
The apostle Paul had a very hard life as a believer. He went to the whipping post so often his body must have been one massive scar. His own testimony declared that he suffered the loss of all things, yet He lived richly. Nothing could rob him or them of their joy and radiance. A radiance and joy that is available today. Jesus is truly the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The Christian in fellowship with Jesus possesses all that makes life worthwhile in both time and eternity. If you are not a Christian, receive Him today. If you do not have what I’ve been describing and want it, seek His face. He cares for you and invites you to COME. I pray daily, “Lord your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth and in my life as it is in heaven.”
God bless you as you walk in His fullness and enjoy this wonderful day!