There are a couple of phrases that I have hearing recently that have really struck me. I don’t want to get political but, Donald Trump’s reference to the media being the enemy of the American people was pretty unavoidable the other day!
The other words?
They were prayed over me and I have been reading them in other contexts too, it’s the saying;
“be covered in your Rabbi’s dust”
Now, there is a bit of controversy over these words, is it a true saying or an urban myth? (I suspect it’s true, it’s based on something in the Mishnah and has been attributed to Yose ben Yoezer). Irrespective, the thought behind it is that you can walk so close to your Rabbi that you get covered in the dust churned up by his feet along the road.
That’s a nice thought, isn’t it? If I am that close to Jesus, I can get covered in the dust from His feet. Well, perhaps isn’t that nice, when Jesus says things like;
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
(Matthew 5 vs. 43 – 44)
It becomes easy then to point the finger at those who proclaim out loud who their enemies are. What about us?
I may not have “enemies” in the sense of people that I want to fight. But, I do need to examine my own heart and my own attitudes if I want to be “covered in the Rabbi’s dust”. Because, when I look at Jesus, I see that He kept on loving all the way to the cross. Even when His closest friends let Him down (or betrayed Him in one case), the authorities hated Him, even one of those crucified with Him heaped insults upon Him, He was still able to pray;
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
(Luke 23 vs. 34)
In my opinion, what Jesus does is demonstrate radical love and, if we are to be covered in the dust of the Rabbi, we have to learn to do the same. As somebody once said to me
Christianity aint for wimps!
The greatest act of love is, not loving those who will love you back, it is in loving the enemy and praying for those who persecute you. The Kingdom of God calls us to live to a different standard not just loving those who will love us back, but loving our enemy.
What does it mean to love our enemy?
It means we don’t bad mouth them or misrepresent their beliefs and views. It means we do things that will bless them and their lives. It means we forgive, and pray for, and treat them as we would have them treat us even if they are not treating us that way.
Imagine what it would be like if everyone reacted to their enemies with acts of love and goodwill in the face of how they were treated. There would be the possibility of true peace and justice.
Nothing wonderful ever happens when you exchange good for good. But something miraculous happens when we return good for evil, when we love an enemy, when we pray for those who persecute us we create room for God to act and work.
I don’t know where you are in your lives at the moment. But, I do know where I am and I do know where I long to see God act and work in my situations. Maybe, you long for God to work in yours too.
So maybe, it’s time to get radical. Maybe it’s time to get dusty!