God is so backwards. He does things so much differently than we do. His idea of truth is so far from ours. I'd go as far as to say that God is completely radical.
And it's awesome.
Try to catch some of the crazy claims that God makes: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink (Romans 12:20)." Or try this one: "Blessed are the meek ('quiet, gentle, and easily imposed-on') for they will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5)." Or what about this: "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all (Mark 9:35)."
It doesn't take long to see why so many of his peers thought Jesus was out of his mind. At the very least, these statements don't make any sense. Everyone knows that to win, you have to beat your enemy at his own game. And no one who is quiet and humble and turns the other cheek ever gains any power or influence. You have to fend for yourself. Look out for #1. Right?
Right. If you want power and influence and money for yourself, you have to put your best foot forward at all times. You have to be better, stronger, faster, smarter, always one step ahead of everyone else. But you know what? I (Mark) don't want any of that for myself. I did for a while. I wanted to be well-known and influential. I wanted to be respected. Honestly, for a while, I dreamed of MY name being known and talked about across the country, maybe even the world. Here's what changed my mind:
What if I did succeed in being influential and well-known and respected? Then what? People for a few decades would remember the name Mark Potter. It wouldn't really matter or change anything other than a few pages in a history book, but it would fade and die. And that's not good enough for me. I want more meaning than that. Correction - I NEED more meaning than that. So then I started thinking about these maybe-not-quite-so-crazy statements of God.
What happens if I feed my enemies? As long as we are shooting back and forth at each other, he is getting what he wants - a fight, me being bothered and on the defensive. But if I "give in" and choose to love him instead, it's over and I've lost. But here's the clincher - LOVE HAS WON. And who is love? God is love.
What happens if I keep myself meek and humble? My name won't go into the history books. I won't make millions or hit the top of the charts with a platinum album. All I will do is display a quiet strength, a humble confidence that (believe it or not) people LIKE. People are attracted to others who are sure of who they are but not full of themselves. And so those around me will not necessarily notice me - they will notice something inside of me. And what is inside of me? God is inside of me.
And what happens if I put myself last? Well, before I am forced to start writing a second chapter for this blog-book, I'll just simply say that GOD BECOMES FIRST. And do you know what happens next? Other disciples of Jesus of Nazareth will also put themselves last, and GOD WILL AGAIN BECOME FIRST. And now we're getting somewhere. Before long, thousands and millions of disciples of this Jesus begin to put themselves last and God moves more and more to the forefront of history.
And GOD alone is glorified.
Now that's the kind of collosal cosmic purpose that I can devote myself to. That is the huge, earth-shattering mission that I will undertake. And in a nutshell, it's called turning the other cheek. Upside-down, isn't it?