FIRST-PERSON: Christianity really is different

by Waylon Bailey, posted Wednesday, May 10, 2017 (one year ago)

COVINGTON, La. (BP) -- Christianity really is different. It doesn't take long to figure that out. It comes in many different ways and many different teachings.

You can certainly see it in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

Jesus told His disciples that He did not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament). Nor did He come to accept the status quo of Judaism.

He came to fulfill the teachings of Scripture, giving His disciples a number of illustrations.

One of those has to do with "an eye for an eye" (Matthew 5:38-39). Jesus took this teaching (from Exodus 21:23-25) that had escalated violence and revenge to new heights. He called on His followers to respond to violence with kindness and love.

Another illustration involved going the extra mile (Matthew 5:41). Jesus wanted His followers to seek behaviors which de-escalate wrongful actions or power plays. A Roman soldier had the right to demand that a Jew carry his pack for up to a mile. Most Jewish citizens counted out the steps and stopped immediately at the mile mark. Jesus encouraged His followers to look for ways to show love and compassion while seeking to go beyond strict requirements.

This is certainly different teaching. Jesus called us to look at life and people differently. Instead of only loving those who love you, look for people to treat with empathy and respect.

Instead of getting even or living in anger and resentment, love (a positive, active verb) your enemies and pray for those who persecute and use you. Doing so makes you like your Father in heaven. In the same way God reacts, He wants us to react as well.

Would this teaching change the world? Would it change your life?

Seek good and not evil. Find ways to bless others. Living in this way will change you and will witness to the power of Christ to the people around you.

Waylon Bailey is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington, La. This column first appeared at his website, www.waylonbailey.com.
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