News Features Mentor's Corner Raising the Bar


By Pastor Calvary Callender

Thinking back on my life, I had a good childhood. We were a happy family of, dad, my little sister and myself. My sister, Sarah, is 5 years younger than me and we had some wild times. When I was about 12 years old, Sarah and I were playing around when we got into a fight over a large rubber bouncy ball. This wasn't a small bouncy ball; it was the super-deluxe version. You might remember the type. It was about 2 inches in diameter and had some weight to it.

Looking back, I don't remember what started the fight, but it quickly escalated as these things usually do. I knew better than to hurt my sister because my dad had engrained into me that if I ever hurt her, or even made a threat, I would be in big trouble.

On this day, I think I forgot all the rules. Angry, I took off after her, chasing her through the house. Our house had one of those islands in the kitchen and I found myself chasing her around and around this dumb island. One of our passes around the island, she made a break for her room toward the other end of the house down a long hallway. I realized I wouldn't catch her before she went into the room. I stopped, took aim, and threw that rubber bouncy ball at her as hard as I could.

It couldn't have been any closer. She had opened her door, and as she closed it, the ball hit the door...right about where her head had been. It put an indention in the door, which I am sure, is there to this day. There was no denying the evidence that I had intended to harm my sister. Boy, I sure got in trouble for that one. Luckily, she didn't get hurt that day.

Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, tells those who are listening, "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment." Jesus is giving us an example of what it means to raise the bar of righteousness. He tells them, "This is what the law says, but I want you to raise the bar of righteousness. If you will follow me, not only will you not murder someone, you won't even hate them."

Anger, if left unchecked, can be a poison in our lives. Think about the news that invades us every day. The FBI released some statistics on homicides. In 1994 there were 23,305 homicides, a 22% increase from 1985. The notion that the increase was from gang and drug violence is a myth. In 1994 the most common reason for homicide was an argument, representing 28% of all homicides, most occurring at home. The FBI report states that drug and gang killing accounted for only 7% and .6% respectively.

Anger can destroy us. We cannot let anger wiggle its way into our lives or else we will be eat up with it. And, with that anger in our lives, we cannot be reconciled to God.

Many of us might have always felt that if we don't murder someone, we are OK. If we don't "say" anything bad about someone that is OK. Jesus came in and said, "It's not about what you say or what you do as much as it is about what's in your heart." He takes the law and he tells us we have to raise the bar. So, it's not about murder or hate as much as it is about loving God and pursuing Jesus. It is in this state of mind that we will find peace with God.

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