Loving the people I don’t like. That was my Lenten discipline last year, and it is again. I’ve not made much progress in the last 12 months. It started with some prayerful reflection on what it means to love God and neighbor as the most important part of fulfilling the deepest intention of the law. Neighbors are not always easy to love, especially if you don’t like them. The generalized Christian claim that “I love everybody” just doesn’t cut it.
I was in a museum not long ago gazing at a painting of Jesus washing Peter’s feet, a familiar scene to most of us, and wondering why it seemed very wrong. What was wrong was that Jesus was pictured as a mature but young man while Peter was very old and gray. We forget that, if Jesus was in his early thirties, it is likely that his disciples were no older and probably younger by several years.
Page down Facebook until you come to the inevitable shot of a group of young adults in their mid-to-late twenties having a good time, and that’s more like it.
How important is a personal relationship with Jesus? Some of my evangelical friends define Christianity as a personal relationship with Jesus. Everything else is adiaphora, except maybe the worship leading praise band. Even some of my Episcopalian colleagues argue that a personal relationship with Jesus should be the aim of growth in Christian faith. My problem is that I don’t know what a personal relationship with Jesus is.
I was talking with some younger friends recently, and the subject of having enough came up. They have young families, mortgages, some loans to repay, college tuition to look forward to, their own so recently paid off, and a certain middle class lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. When, they wondered, would they have enough? Enough to not worry about money.