I confess that I love to read revenge books. I especially like the author Lee Child. Child’s novels are all about an ex-military police major, Jack Reacher. Reacher, as he is known, is a no-nonsense guy, a man’s man who goes about getting justice his own way. You don’t want Reacher to be chasing after you because Jack Reacher definitely does not love his enemies, nor does he do good to those who hate him. The Reacher series includes the books: Bad luck and Trouble; Make Me; Personal; Killing Floor; and Die Trying. I’m sure you get the picture.
In the world’s eyes, Reacher is a hero and a winner. But not so much in God’s eyes.
In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus tells us to be the exact opposite of Jack Reacher: to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. This passage is of the most challenging of the teachings of Jesus.
Joaquín Guzmán ( Nickname “El Chapo”, which means shorty) is a Mexican drug lord and been in the news lately. Forbes magazine called him the “biggest drug lord of all time. El Chapo was arrested in 2014, but he escaped from prison again in 2015 by exiting through a tunnel dug to below his cell. He was then recaptured by Mexican marines in 2016 after granting interviews to people like Sean Penn – because he wanted a movie made of his life. El Chapo escaped his prison cell, but due to his own foolishness and pride, ended up back in bondage.
The same may happen to us as Christians. We are freed from sin’s penalty, power and prison; and as free people we are told not to return to sin’s bondage.
We all want to hallow our own names. To hallow means to set apart, to magnify, to honour. The hallowing of our own names is an age-old problem that goes back to the beginning of history. Adam and Eve wanted to be their own arbitrators or right and wrong. Our forefathers sought to build the Tower of Babel to make a name for themselves rather than for God. Humans are fundamentally narcissistic.
Often in the midst of financial slowdown we realise where our true confidence ought to be. We can spend our entire lives accumulating wealth and providing simply for our physical needs, and then realise we cannot take it with us to the world to come.
Tutankhamen was an Egyptian Pharaoh who lived about 1300 BC. He thought he could take his wealth with him when he died. He had his tomb filled treasure to enjoy in the Afterlife. When Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamen tomb in 1922, the treasures where still there – worth hundreds of millions of rands. Tutankhamen was gone, but the treasure was still there.
We may spend our entire lives accumulating wealth and the abundance of possessions, but we can’t take it with us. We need the right perspective.
When I was a teenager (many, many years ago), I was often told in our youth group how important and essential a regular “Quiet Time” was. A QT was a time when you were quiet, by yourself and with a Bible. You read the Bible, you thought about what you read and then you prayed. You did that often. It was a Christian habit, whether you felt like it or not. Our youth leader often asked us, “How’s your QT going?”
Very seldom today do I hear the same note of urgency, value and importance of regular devotion times.