Sunday, March 20, 2005

Just Desserts (With a Chilled Side Order of Revenge)

On Today's Menu:
Brownie Sundae

I love watching people get something they deserve. Sometimes I tune in to Sunday evening's reality show, Extreme Home Makeover. Every time I watch it, I give thanks for where I am right now. Health, family, a good roof over my head that's mine, a place of peace on this earth. In the space of an hour, I see families get what they have long deserved and only dreamed--or never dared dream--of having.

You've got to wonder, though, how the networks screen applicants to find such deserving families. Nobody's perfect, and I wouldn't venture to guess at people's little secrets. But enough about those sweet families who receive places of beauty to brighten their lives.

Some people show their UN-deserving-ness for the world to see. Like the bozo who cuts you off in traffic and looks at you as if you did something wrong. Or the relative who for the past twenty years has managed to dig deep into you with her barbed comments, and knows exactly what she's doing. You're about ready to cancel family Thanksgiving dinner if you have to endure another holiday in her presence. Then there's the person who's a sneak, working every angle imaginable and never getting caught. You wish you could sell their story to the Enquirer.

"Oh, yes! I can think of things that they deserve." A nice traffic ticket. A look in the mirror of the heart to see their true nature. A public exposure of their secrets.

The natural response is to give--or hope someone receives--exactly what they deserve. So why are we amazed and touched when the good guys get something good? We all love winners; we root for the underdog, the less fortunate, the forgotten, the ones who've had a tough break for no real good reason--to get the prize.

Jesus said to His followers that if they do good to those who love them, they're no different than the other guy, the regular Joes and Janes who choose not to believe. He then commanded His followers to do good to those who hate them.

That doesn't sound very much like vengeance or just desserts, does it? Nor much fun, either, if you want to see the bad guy "get theirs" in a cinematic sort of way. I tell my husband that having a James Bond car that blasts idiot drivers will never be legal.

"But that person seems to exist only to make me miserable."

Those who say they're Christians, i.e., followers of Christ (the label "Christian has been applied to lots of people whom I'm sure Jesus would be ashamed of), are told to do the revolutionary. Do a loving act to those who don't deserve it. Wow, what a reality show that would make!

This Friday, millions of people will commemorate the time when Jesus didn't give us what we deserve, and instead gave us the ultimate act of love. Even those who will never appreciate or receive His gift. When I think about what He did for those of all time--for me, I feel like I've hit the Lotto.

Which is certainly much more than I deserve!

"Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him." The Bible, Romans 5, verses 6-8

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