When we consider the evil in the world at large, or the evil we see in our own hearts, we can become discouraged. We feel that God’s way may never come in our world. But Jesus compares his new way to a mustard plant – in our day, he could have used a computer virus. The point is that his way is inevitable, unstoppable and totally counter to the dominant ways of our world. Jesus’ way starts small, but once it gets going, not even the gates of Hell can stand against him!
There are times when our beliefs don’t actually inform our behavior. While we may say and even think a certain “belief,” our behavior doesn’t always line up. But it works the other way flawlessly. Our behaviors give us a 100% accurate view of what we really believe. Jesus has a conversation with a teacher of the Law where he comes to the conclusion that the way you receive eternal life is through “loving God” and “loving your neighbor as yourself.” But that begs the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with a story that we refer to as The Good Samaritan. The crazy thing about this story is that the one who is neighborly to the beaten man is the one who doesn’t have the right beliefs, a person Jesus’ listeners would’ve considered an enemy. Our enemies are surprising allies that give us a unique opportunity to put what we say we believe into practice.
When someone hurts us, we wall ourselves off to stay safe, to ensure they can't hurt us anymore. But Jesus challenges us to forgive, to refuse to let our lives be ruled by what someone else did to us. Through the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, he invites us out of the cages unforgiveness keeps us in and into the freedom of forgiveness.