Tough Love?

A friend recently sent me a wonderful picture of Jesus holding a child on his lap. The Father’s “kingdom” here and now is as simple as that – showing children that you love them. It starts there and moves next door. The picture is one of those diamonds hidden among the weeds, sort of like the passages below.

Matt 5:38-48

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

BTW, verse 48 just throws a challenge out to us: try being like him. Mirror his loving ways as best you can. Every little bit is better than getting even with a payback/punishment which is not the Father’s way. Prodigal or not, he loves you no matter what!

My friend wrote that he has experienced “tough love” and it confuses him. No wonder. “Tough love” is an oxymoron. It’s foolishness. No such thing. No such love. Never necessary. Only a figment of a payback/punishment mindset, as if God uses “tough love” on us so it must be OK for us to use it on others. Not true. Bad things that happen to us are not God’s doing at all. Rather, they are the result of our own bad choices. Plant weed seeds and expect to harvest wonderful fruit? Ha! Foolishness! Not the Father’s way at all! Not under any circumstances.

That’s why “tough love” used on someone leaves the person confused. It’s a cover-up, an excuse to punish or get even. No, the Father’s way of love is far more scandalous to a punishing/payback mindset because his loving way of forgiveness and acceptance treats the offense like it never even happened. He has already thrown even the worst of our prodigal offenses out of his sight, as far as the east is from the west, and beyond. Nothing left to repent of when we approach him. Only gratitude and thanksgiving to him – celebration with him – and, of course, passing his loving ways on to our neighbor, even to our enemies.

(Now THAT’s the tough part! – treating our bullying enemies like the Father treats us.) I’m still working on that. Try it. It is not as easy as it sounds, not even for a loving person who thinks she/he has overcome an ancient payback/punishment mindset.

Hank Hasse – July 28, 2013

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Published in: on July 28, 2013 at 6:39 am  Leave a Comment  

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