Because I live with “a doctor in the family,” I have been on one side of a lot of medical conversations with family and friends of family over the years. Recently, there was a long conversation that went something like this: “It’s a serious disease.” “You don’t feel bad, because you’re used to living with this. But your tissues are not getting enough oxygen.” “Every time you are not getting enough oxygen, it is putting extra stress on your heart and your kidneys and your brain. That’s why you have to use your oxygen even if you don’t feel like you need it.” “Even when you’re sleeping. Every time you are not getting enough oxygen …” “You need to go by the number on the meter. You can’t go by how you feel. You feel OK when your oxygen sats are in the 80s, because you’re used to that. But that is not actually OK.”
So when our wonderful pastor was talking to us about Jesus’s vision of the kin-dom of God, and his examples of the way of life of that kin-dom in Sunday’s reading from Luke 6, I remembered that long conversation.
I thought: we – we citizens of our common culture – think that way of life sounds difficult and extreme and an effort. Loving your enemies. Giving to people who can’t pay you back. Being kind without expecting people to be grateful. Not judging. Maybe we think this because we have gotten so used to living differently that it doesn’t “feel bad” to us. It feels normal to hate people, to deplore people, some people. It feels normal to be “careful,” with money, and with acceptance. It feels normal to think “not my problem.”
We don’t “feel bad” living this way – no acute pain. We’ve adjusted. We’re used to it.
Maybe in this case we can’t go by how we feel.
Image: “Winter aconite,” Bengt Nyman, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons