Yeshua (Jesus) taught, “But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. What reward do you get if you love only those who love you? Why, even tax-collectors do that!” (Matthew 5:45 The Complete Jewish Bible) Christianity teaches if we obey all the rules and live righteous lives God will bless us, but that teaching is in opposition to the words of Yeshua who said life’s successes and troubles are visited upon all regardless of our state of righteousness.
Yeshua is teaching a crowd of people sitting on a hillside in what many consider the “Beatitude” or the “blessed are” speech. He covered a lot of ground in this one teaching. In this passage, Yeshua is saying go the extra mile and more importantly, live by the law of love. Love your enemies, those who persecute you and not just those who love or treat you well in return. It’s more difficult to love those who persecute us, are critical, cruel, are not like us, who live counter to our beliefs, isn’t it? Generally, we are more comfortable in the company of people who share similar beliefs, ideals, and lifestyles. Said another way, we like to be with people of whom we approve.
Christianity would have us believe living a righteous life will guarantee only good will be returned to us, but Yeshua didn’t say that. He said the rain falls on the just and the unjust and what sets us apart is our response to the rain. Rain comes in many forms; loss, ruin, sickness, bad luck, whatever we choose to call it. As a young Christian trying to get a handle on the nuances of Christianity and living a righteous life I had more experienced Christians tell me the rain was falling because of sin in my life, something I wasn’t doing right, or that I needed to increase my faith. In other words, I was doing something wrong or not doing enough. More importantly, the message coming through loud and clear was that I was not pleasing to God. Get right with God and the rain will subside. Christians don’t like to hang with those who are not ‘right with God’ as if the ‘unrighteousness’ will rub off on them.
The truth is we are uncomfortable with the rain in our lives and in the lives of others. We try to make sense of it, try to explain it, but we cannot. The point of rain is to learn from it, not explain why it is happening. God gives everyone the opportunity to learn from life as it happens; life isn’t perfect no matter what we do or don’t do. Some learn from the rain, some do not. When the rain is falling in our lives or in another’s life we are to respond with love, no more, no less.
We differ in our responses to the rain in our lives, the bad things that happen, the things we don’t understand. Whether we identify as Christians or not we are quick to wonder what we are doing wrong. Why do we assume we are doing anything wrong? I chalk it up to the pervasive teachings of the church and their misguided interpretation of Yeshua’s teachings. Yeshua said the rain will fall whether or not we are righteous or just, in other words, you may not be doing anything wrong, so abandon the thought. Concentrate on the response to the rain, not why it is happening.
Questioning why the rain is falling in our lives leads down the path of the victim mentality. Poor me, why me, others have it better than I; me, me, me. When the rain happens to others their response may be to lash out, be less than pleasant, or partake of negative behaviors, behaviors we disapprove of; dive into alcoholic, drug or myriad other dangerous or unpleasant behaviors. The righteous ego rises up and tsk, tsks, the outward expression of inward pain in others and we reject the person along with the behaviors. Where is the love?
The rain in our lives or the lives of others is an opportunity to practice love toward self and others. When the rain falls in our lives we need to be kind to ourselves, understand the rain is an opportunity to learn, to grow. Plants need rain to grow; so do we in a different way. The rain falling in our lives or the lives of others is not the time to criticize, offer unhelpful explanations, or thoughts originating in the ego. Our response to self or others needs only to be love…..