When I hear the phrase “go the extra mile” I typically think of going beyond the call of duty. This phrase comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which includes other challenging calls such as “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemy.” (Matthew 5:1-48) I hear these calls and I feel the weight of inadequacy. I am often struggling to make it the first mile, much less go an extra mile. I grapple with thinking of God as demanding, impossible to please, and intolerant of failure.
Perhaps I have missed the point.
Wasn’t Jesus the perfect example of going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, and loving His enemies? Could these calls, which I so quickly turn into a reason to feel guilty, be more of a vision of who God is? Could it be that God is constantly going the extra mile on our behalf? Maybe we are meant to realize that God is the one who turns the other cheek when we so often and so flippantly ignore Him? Is the nature of God towards us the point of the call more than the demand on us and our inadequacy?
How different to think of God as the God of the extra mile on my behalf!
How encouraging to realize God turns the other cheek when I fall short, as I so often do! My failures are now met with His compassion and my baby steps toward Him are met with His running embrace. Knowing this transforms my guilt into gratitude. If the God of the universe personally cares for me this way, then it frees me up to care for other people the same way, without the guilt.
Our Father loves us with a love unimaginable to us. He is the God of the extra mile.
Does knowing that God goes the extra mile on your behalf turn your guilt into grace?