What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 24: MAGNANIMITY AND FRIENDSHIP
Chinese poet-philosopher Li Hung Chang said: “The only problem with Christ is that His teachings are too lofty to be practical.”
Napoleon is quoted as saying:
“I have inspired multitudes with such devotion that they would have died for me. But to do this it was necessary that I should be visibly present. Christ, unseen, asks for the human heart…and all who sincerely believe in Him experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him.”
Chang was overwhelmed, Napoleon mystified, by Jesus Christ’s love, by the fact that no one was excluded from it and by the fact that all who truly felt it returned it.
Christ created the quality of magnanimity when he added to the easy love (of friends and comrades) the difficult love (of enemies and opposites) (see Luke 6:27-38). His love overpowered hard-to-love people. His forgiveness was instant and total (see Matthew 18:21-22), and it flourished even on the cross (see Luke 23:34). His friendship extended even to his betrayer (see Matthew 26:50).
It is because of Christ’s love for all that he can ask all to love him by loving each other. And indeed he did ask this: “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27, 35); “Do good to them that hate you” (Matthew 5:44); and, perhaps most striking and challenging of all, “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34-35).
Did Christ’s life leave any clues, any keys to the seemingly impossible door leading to the love of everyone and the hate or resentment of no one?
Yes. One key is found in the example Christ set of finding reasons for appreciating people. Christ spoke approvingly of loyalty (see Mark 10:29-30). He commended the use of talents (see Matthew 25:14-23). He saw good in things as small as the widow’s mite (see Mark 12:43), and in things as large as the hidden power and quality of his apostle Peter.
Another key is the way Jesus could believe in people even when they did not believe in themselves (see Luke 5:8-10).
Still another key ties into the practice of praying earnestly for other people: for friends (see Luke 22:32; John 17:9), and also for the unworthy (see Matthew 5:44).
A final key (and perhaps the greatest) comes to us as we learn to view all men as friends and as brothers (see Matthew 5:21-24).
What a blessing (and an incentive) it is to know that, as we make friend with the least of our brothers, we are making friends with the greatest (and most senior) of our brothers (see Matthew 25:40).