Loving enough to say no. Or not.

Over the last day I’ve been thinking about Jesus’s actions in the garden. I’ve been especially drawn to the part in Jon depiction where Peter cuts off the servants ear with sword (join 18:10-11) He love Jesus enough that he would risk sacrificing his own life to try to save Jesus. After all to attempt to kill one of the arresting a party meant that he was putting himself in danger of prosecution and execution. The trouble is that he did not love Malchus at all.

Jesus though loved them both. And because you love them both he was willing to say an emphatic, “No” to Peter. I’ve been thinking about this today and I’ve realized that I very seldom love others this much. I want to be liked by others, I want my friends to appreciate me and spend time with me. So I very infrequently call them out when I should. I am scared that they will reject me and leave me lonely and pining for friendship. Jesus was not this way, when he realized that one of the people that he loved needed correction, he gave that correction. As I think about it more I also realize that he loved his disciples enough not to agitate those who arrested and tried him. He could have very easily corrected them the way that he corrected Peter; to do so though may have meant reprisals for his disciples. So again Jesus took the right road. Rather than defend himself or try to correct his accusers, Jesus remain silent before the judges.

All of this makes me think of Reinhold Niebuhr’s : “God, give me the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

Jesus Jesus had this wisdom, he knew went to speak a difficult word to a friend, and when to hold his tongue knowing a word might lead to violence. Because of that wisdom I sit here almost 2,000 years later looking at the clock and recognizing that we are 10 minutes from his death. His love for all Humanity led him to confront a friend who erred and not resist the evil done toward him. May we each this day and every day grow toward that same love. And love that is willing to face rejection and isolation rather than see a friend in error and hatred. Lord give me the strength to correct my friends and trust that their love will remain true.

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