Doing a Good Turn for Jesus

He watches this young mother and her two kids. The older kid is on the other side of the road to fulfill an errand, and is about to cross. But crossing a busy street with all these trucks, cars and pick-ups rushing by, requires the agility of a superman, if not the wisdom of a Solomon. “Don’t cross, not yet,” the young mother shouts at the top of her voice. The younger son in her arms and the two traveling bags on both shoulders weigh heavily on her. She is the Muslim engineer’s wife.

He rushes to the middle of the street and signals the oncoming vehicles to stop, holds the boy by the hand and deposits him in front of his mother. No word is said, neither from him nor from the Muslim wife. Does this woman’s culture keep her from smiling at strangers? he asks himself. In Muslim countries a male person cannot even greet a Muslim lady. But this is no Muslim community; it is my community. And here is a good turn that waits to be done, and nobody is there to do it.

The Muslim wife smiles at him. He smiles back. That is all. Then the young mother waves at the taxi that passes by, and off they go.

Doing a good turn. That, he himself believes, is the challenge of Christlikeness: Doing an act of kindness for people who don’t expect it, regardless of culture differences. He has done that before, and is doing it now. The former acts have been much more difficult, some people are saying. It involves spending one’s own money for someone else’s food, someone he does not even know, who may even be hostile to his faith. He gives it without any hope of return. The idea sounds countercultural, but it has a very strong biblical basis.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” Jesus asked, addressing a large crowd. “For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to them who do good to you, what credit is that to you?” (Luke 6:32-33). Clearly Jesus wants His people to do more than, and beyond what culture requires. Christianity is over and above what Muslim, Catholic or Protestant culture demands.

Christianity demands selflessness. That means myself or yourself. That means whether we get credit for it or not. It does not demand repayment. It does not mean I list it down should you forget it tomorrow. Christians are sufferers: They suffer a form of spiritual Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia when it comes to acts of kindness done in the past.

Sinners demand from the righteous much more than they demand of themselves. The Jews demanded that Jesus be nailed on the cross for defaming their God, their temple and their law, but wanted the Gentiles to do the job of nailing and hanging Him for them. Crucifying a “blasphemer” is a dirty job. They remembered they were a “holy” people living in “holy” land. Even a nail would be abominable, more so the body of one who hanged on a cross. In the end Jesus allowed them to have their own way, suffering and dying because of both. On the cross He prayed for those who nailed and crucified Him–both Gentiles and Jews. This act of His is over and above what our culture would expect anyone to do. In this world, if you slapped me on the left, I will slap you on the right.

Christianity, the system Jesus founded, demands Christlikeness. Jesus wants His people do good regardless of religion and culture. Giving the other cheek. Walking two miles when the enemy demands a mile. Not resisting evil. Praying for those who would hurt you. Not insisting on justice. Jesus does not even demand that we take up His cross; He just wants us to take up our own. Our own cross may be smaller. Maybe you think giving a piece of burger to the man who just slapped you on the face is a bigger cross; it is not. There can never be any cross that would compare to Jesus’. Maybe forgiving the man who hailed you to court is a crossbeam that is a lot heavier than what Jesus carried to Golgotha; you’re wrong. The Corinthians were not forgivers; they were accusers. “Why not rather be defrauded?” Paul asks them. And if you read the context it is about Christians charging fellow Christians before the court of unbelievers (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).

Someone says he does good because it makes him comfortable and happy. Jesus demands more: Do good even if it hurts, and keep smiling in the midst of all these hurtings.

Christians are not just a people whose aim is to live by the Book; they are a people whose goal is heaven. A church where everyone loves each other, in spite of the wrongs he suffers at the hand of another, is a foretaste of the heavenly home. A home we cannot imagine creating in this evil and Satan-ruled world. But God creates it for us. An eternal abode we can start living in now, and continue to dwell in tomorrow. But of course, the paradise God creates for us in church today is temporal; the one He creates for us in Heaven will last forever. Because heaven is so great a promise, why make a fuss about doing a good turn for Jesus everyday?

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