The Second Mile
By Mike Haman
I had been a Christian for as long as I could remember, playing it safe, staying as comfortable as possible, but my spirit longed for something more. It was time for a change. My life was way too rational, scheduled and ordinary. As I reflected on the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I was overwhelmed by His irrational love and the risks He was willing to take on anyone and everyone. He was anything but ordinary. Think about what Jesus did for you, what He went through for you and the unfathomable value He placed on you by laying down His very life. Heaven was bankrupt. God gave His very best. His sacrifice was extraordinary, His love responsive and His pursuit relentless. If Jesus paid such a high price for you and I to live a life of extraordinary, why would we settle for anything less?
Ordinary living is like wearing a straight jacket or handcuffs. It keeps the greatness and purpose God planted inside of you locked up. I've decided I don't want to stand before God and reflect on an average, mediocre life. No indeed. I want to experience the abundant and extraordinary life God had in mind for me. What about you? What do you feel when you think about the word, "ordinary?" Is there something on the inside of you that disagrees with this word? Does it frustrate or aggravate you? If it doesn't, I believe it should. In fact, I believe the word "ordinary" doesn't belong in the vocabulary of a follower of Christ. Why? Because ordinary living is never enough and God has something so much greater in store for you.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' lengthiest sermon recorded, He reveals the secret to living an extraordinary life. Let's read a part of this sermon in Matthew 5:38:41 (NLT):
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles."
Has there been a time in your life you wanted to be an Old Testament Christian? Now let's be honest, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, naturally makes sense and speaks to where we live. It is called the law of retribution. If it's done to you, you can do it back to them. The Jews followed this law and mindset for hundreds of years, but Jesus showed up on the scene to introduce a new way of living that fulfilled God's law. "If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles." As I read this verse I began to ask God, "What do you mean by carry it two miles?" I discovered at the time Jesus spoke these words, there was a Roman Law stating any Roman soldier could demand a Jewish citizen to carry his equipment for up to one mile, but no further. In other words, Jesus was saying, "I know it is the law to go one mile, but don't just carry the gear one mile, go two." He was introducing the idea of Second Mile living. The secret to unlocking "ordinary," and flourishing in extraordinary, is found in the Second Mile living Jesus is calling you and I too!
If there ever was a life message God has planted inside of me, a message brewed out of a season of discontent and dissatisfaction, it would be this……an extraordinary life is found in the Second Mile. It's found in people willing to step outside of comfort, predictability and convenience. People willing to take a risk and change their schedule to go the second, third and fourth mile to show someone the love of Christ. The question is, how do you then keep an "ordinary" mentality from crippling you and live the Second Mile life Jesus intended for you to live?
Perhaps no other story in Scripture demonstrates this Second Mile spirit better than the story of the Good Samaritan recorded in Luke 10. A Jewish man was traveling the 15-mile journey from Jerusalem down to Jericho when thieves attacked him. They tore off his clothes, beat him up and literally left him for dead in a ditch. Then, along came three different people, each with the same opportunity to help this hurting Jewish man out of the ditch. The first person to come by was a Priest. If anyone should have stopped it certainly should have been the preacher. However, this Priest didn't even bother to look or at least check on him. He was more interested in having church than being the church. In telling us this parable in Luke 10, Jesus is hoping you and I will learn from this Priests' mistake, that the Gospel is not only a message to hear, but also something to see. What did the man in the ditch need? He didn't need to hear a great sermon on the love of God; he needed to see the love of God in action. If you are in the ditch, thank God for all of the great sermons and teachings, the amazing training and equipping. The truth is though, you can have all of the Biblical knowledge in the world, but if you are not expressing it and putting it into practice, what change are you really making? Whether you are a preacher or not, you are preaching a sermon every single day by the way you live. Being a Christian is not just about the Jesus you know, but the Jesus that you show. Every single day you have the opportunity to show people the love of Christ by living out what you know and believe.
Then along came guy number two, a Levite, who worked as a temple assistant. He served God, served in the church, but was too busy to stop and check on this helpless man in the ditch. He thought he was keeping an appointment with God, but he failed to realize God was there in the ditch. How many times do we miss a God-ordained extraordinary opportunity because of our own schedules, busyness and hurriedness? Maybe we think we are busy doing the work of the Lord, and Jesus is yelling from the ditch, "No, no, no. I was right there and you missed me. You were too busy." The hurting in need of help and the lonely in need of a friend can't be scheduled into your calendar. A crisis will never conveniently show up. It always comes un-announced, un-expected and at the worst times. Aren't you glad that when your life was a mess, someone stopped to help you out of a ditch? How amazing is it that God allows us the opportunity to do the same for others, one by one, helping others out of their ditch. What if you and I started looking at inconveniences as opportunities to do something extraordinary in someone's life? You will never regret detouring from your schedule to help someone, to serve someone, to listen to someone, to encourage someone or to be kind to someone.
Finally, a Samaritan man came along and saw this man desperate in the ditch. First of all, you have to understand there was a history of hate between the Jews and the Samaritans that this man chose to overlook. He pushed past his own comfort and reached into the pain of someone's else's. Not only does the Samaritan man stop to help this man out of the ditch, but he goes above and beyond to make sure he is brought back to complete health.
Why didn't the priest or Levite stop? Busyness, inconvenience and selfishness, but I also believe they were afraid. The thieves were still at large. How were these two men to know if they were safe? Maybe they thought, "What's going to happen to me if I stop?" While the Samaritan man asked, "What's going to happen to him if I don't?" The Second Mile life is not about self-preservation, but it is about self-abandonment. When it sees a person in need, it asks, "What's going to happen to them if I don't stop? If I don't do something? If I don't help? If I don't listen? If I don't serve?" Aren't you glad when Jesus was on His way to the Cross, He didn't ask, "What's going to happen to me if I die?" No, He asked, "What's going to happen to them if I don't?" What a breath-taking picture of God's radical, crazy and irrational love in action. The Samaritan man got it. He figured out the secret to living an extraordinary life, going the distance and pushing past fear to be kind to someone, to show the love of God to someone. This is Second Mile living at its best and exactly the kind of life my soul had been longing for, a crazy and irrational love we are called to live and show to others.
Have you ever had anyone love you like that, in a crazy and irrational way? I remember when my oldest daughter, Alexa, was in the 4th grade. She rode the bus home from school everyday, and the bus stopped right in front of our house. On this particular day the bus was late. Now you have to understand that as a dad, deeply in love with my children, I unapologetically get a little crazy when it comes to them. As soon as I heard the bus coming down the street, I barreled out the front door. Up ahead, I saw Alexa getting off the bus and then running towards the house. My arms were flying, legs kicking and mouth screaming, as I am running towards her. I'm literally chasing her down over my excitement to have her home (just a dad wanting to celebrate his daughter). Alexa wasn't quite on the same page. She saw me, diverted her course and begun to yell, "No daddy don't do it, don't do it daddy." I couldn't help myself and kept chasing after her. All of her friends on the bus were watching in utter amazement. I'm sure some of them thought, "Poor Alexa, her dad is a strange man." But I wonder, I really wonder, how many of them went home that night and thought, "You know what? I wish my dad would chase me like that. I wish he would get all hyped up and crazy over me. I just wish my dad had that kind of passion for me." I wonder, I really wonder, how people would respond if we pursued them with a Second Mile love that was full of passion, illogical and irrational. A love that lives, "I will go to the ditch for you because I'm not worried about what happens in my life, but I'm worried about what's happening in yours. I'm willing to change my schedule to stop and listen to your need, and in fact, I'm going to make sure your need gets met."
Did you know, loving God and loving people are indivisible, completely indivisible? It's impossible to separate the two. The best way we can demonstrate our love for God is through a crazy, passionate, illogical, irrational and completely un-ordinary Second Mile outrageous love for others. Let's not miss one opportunity to live an extraordinary life, and say yes to as many opportunities we encounter to go the Second Mile for someone else. I pray God keeps us in the ditch as a church and as a people.
It's called the Second Mile, because ordinary living is never enough.