Daily Reflection
June 17th, 2003
Daniel Patrick O'Reilly
Registrar's Office
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2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Psalm 146:2, 5-6, 7, 8-9
Matthew 5:43-48

Today's scripture readings are familiar and yet challenging, to say the least.  Paul praises the church in Macedonia where the members spontaneously give beyond their means and beg insistently to be allowed to be servants.  The psalmist praises God as the Lord who "raises up those who were bowed down."  And in Matthew, Jesus commands us to "love your enemies," to "pray for those who persecute you" and he says that God "makes his sun rise on the bad and the good."  

Jesus sure knows how to upset the apple cart, doesn't he?  Christ's view is so different from the world's.  Where's the "you have to earn it?"  Where's the "you get what you deserve?"  We're encouraged to live within our means and to climb our way to the top.  Paul praises people who give more than they can afford and want to be servants.  I always try to model myself after Christ, but I often find that I do a pretty poor job of it.  Love your enemies?  I have a hard enough time with friends and family.  I find that, at times, I can be pretty mean and unforgiving.

Many years ago, a man here in Nebraska raped and murdered two women.  He was caught, tried, convicted and sentenced to death.  Several years ago, this man's date with the electric chair was looming and, in an interview with the media, he professed that he was a Christian.  Yeah, right.  In my typical judgmental, unforgiving style, I laughed out loud.  It's easy to find Jesus when you're going to be in front of him in a few days, I scoffed.  As I listened to the interview, I realized that the man's fear was not for his life, but for the ministry he had established in prison.  He was repentant, sincere in his faith and he was a Christian.  And I was ashamed of myself.

Christ tells us to "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."  I try to model myself after Christ, but sometimes it just seems impossible.  I cannot be perfect.  Sometimes it can just lead to a depressing, downward spiral.  The more I try, the more I realize how unworthy I am.  I'm also convinced that sometimes, when I start  my downward spiral, Christ simply reaches out and catches me.  Whether it's with a beautiful blue sky, a kind smile, His Word or a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I always feel thankful and saved.

Paul reminds us of Christ's "gracious act."  For our sake, the Son of God became poor.  So that by his poverty we might become rich.  This morning I received one of my catches from an odd place.  As I passed a used car lot I saw a sign that reminded me of how Christ loves me.  The sign said, "Good credit, no credit, bad credit, you can be approved."  One of the glories of salvation is that it is a gift and anyone can be approved.  My prayer today is for those battling depression, who feel unworthy of God's love.  Praise God for His kindness and gentle mercy that catches each of us when we fall.  


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