taking the words of Jesus seriously

Excerpt from Lancelot Schaubert’s, Least of these Least, published 2023. Used by permission.

The gospel would be easier if it existed just for my buddies, but I’m not that kind of Christian. In fact, I don’t think that idea equates with Christianity at all. I don’t fit in with most Christians because I believe in enemy love in my heart of hearts. I really and truly believe it and that’s why I’m a Christian. That’s why I consistently try to reach the people who are some of the hardest to reach in the world. By numeric metrics, Tara and I produce little fruit. By forgiveness metrics, however, I couldn’t be prouder of the folks we have had the privilege of serving. But also: I’m the worst kind of hypocrite and therefore practice enemy love less than many who disbelieve in it. I do not do what I want to do. What I feel convicted to do.

To do what God did for us.

A friend recently bragged about how he was actively cutting virtually everyone out of his life who wasn’t a close friend or someone he was reaching out to outside the church. He’s a pastor. Bragged about it. A Christian pastor. I know for him, he’s thinking about boundaries and his “true” friends and likely comparing it to his idea of me where he thinks I want to be liked by everyone. I did at one point, but violent personal attacks manifested in public one star book reviews (or email threats riddled with f-words) can cure that desire just as quickly as your home church’s refusal to put your face on their wall of ministers. Both of which I’ve experienced. The truth is deeper: I don’t see Jesus cutting people out of his life. Just the opposite. I see him saying I will drag all men to the Father, some of them kicking and screaming I suppose until the day they finally yield and bow with every other knee and turn and see what they truly protested all these years. I see him in the text in John’s Gospel — who said in this way, not the cross, Jesus showed the fullest extent of his love — he washes the feet not only of all the friends he knew would soon abandon him. He washed the feet of the man Judas whom he knew would sell him out to the man, to the state, to the religious powerful mob for about a month and a half of unemployment checks.

Jesus didn’t cut him out. Rather he washed the feet of the least of these twelve disciples. Washed Judas’s feet to show the full extent of his love.

I understand boundaries have to be instated sometimes, I’m certainly getting better at it, but boundaries imply a border and a border implies the place where lands meet. Boundaries require presence and consequences for two people to meet. Solitary confinement or self-exile seldom imply boundaries. Rather, they imply a refusal to set boundaries. If the boundary is that I avoid you or cast you out of my presence for all time, it’s not really a boundary, is it? It’s just cowardice. There’s a difference between the difference of persons — such as the intimacy of the Trinity where they defer, in unity, to one another: I will drag all men to the Father, the Spirit conceives Jesus, the Father sends his son — and the idea of the sea. Revelation says the day will come where there is no more sea: peoples and people will no longer be divided by anything other than the white stone with the unique, true name of their personhood. You will be united to everyone, you might as well start reconciling now and separating the wheat from the chaff in your own soul. Even that person you hate right now? Their true self will emerge one day and the chaff of their person will burn away, says 1 Corinthians 3. If Jesus says love your enemy and the person you hate the most is yourself, get to work.

Jordan Peterson and almost every cultural voice like him, liberal and conservative, does not help here. They say “love your enemies” means learn from them, take their tips, beat them in the long run. Use their strategy to defeat them on social media. That’s literally the opposite of what Jesus says and means: when he says love, he means love. He means forgiveness. And you can see it by the way Jesus treats his enemy: you. While you were Jesus’ foe, he died for you. It’s cowardice to avoid or merely learn from our opponents.

What’s harder is the long, slow slog of reconciliation. That takes patience. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t cut someone out of your life for a year or two and then revisit. I did with my father and we reconciled before he died: he became a good man. Not only because of me, but because of several. It’s never permanent because 1 Corinthians 3 among other places teaches us that we will have to deal with the healing, purging, and reconciliation of our relationships anyways when Jesus returns. We’re stuck with each other — all of each other — forever. You’ve never met a mere mortal. Never once. You have to figure it out eventually. You can’t hide your bitterness and stinginess and withholding of honor and cynicism forever.

We might as well get busy on the hard work of forgiving our enemies now. Sooner begun is sooner done, as Kvothe’s father said. And that’s a kid that could use some reconciliation.

Along those lines, Tara’s granny passed during COVID and I wrote a threnody for her that The Author’s Journal of Imaginative Literature bought. There’s a stanza that goes:

Now she knows the Hence and Hither
From Whom all has gone;
Sparrows fall, lilies wither,
Yonder known by Yon;
All the Want behind her wants,
Longing known above;
Knows if love be want to wander
wandering to Love.

Be want to wander to love, friend.
Keep wandering down the path of love and reconciliation.

About The Author


Lancelot Schaubert has authored 14 books, 15 scripts, 40+ stories, 30+ songs, 60+ articles, 200+ poems, and a thesis for markets such as MacMillan (TOR), The New Haven Review (Yale’s Institute Library), The Anglican Theological Review, McSweeney’s, Writer’s Digest, The World Series Edition of Poker Pro, Standard Publishing, and the Poet’s Market — most recently his debut novel Bell Hammers, which he also narrated in theatrical audiobook. ******************************************************************************** He has ghostwritten and edited for NYT Bestsellers like Tim Keller, Brian Jennings, wrote the book proposal that sold Dr. Mark Moore’s thesis (University of Prague) to TNT Clark, was the first to review Dr. Jordan Wood’s The Whole Mystery of Christ: Creation as Incarnation in Maximus Confessor, wrote copy for large international nonprofit orgs and companies, and has served as an editor for bestselling fantasy authors Juliet Marrilier, Kaaron Warren, and Howard Andrew Jones for the anthology Of Gods and Globes (not to mention work as an senior editor / producer for The Joplin Toad and Showbear Family Circus). ******************************************************************************** As a producer and director-writer, he co-reinvented the photonovel through Cold Brewed with Mark Neuenschwander. That work caught the attention of the Missouri Tourism Board (as well as the Chicago Museum of Photography), who commissioned them to create a second photonovel, The Joplin Undercurrent; he also worked on films with Flying Treasure, WRKR, etc.; helped judge the Brooklyn Film Festival and NYC Film Festival; and he wrote, produced, and performed the symphonic novella All Who Wander. Spark + Echo selected him as their 2019 artist in residence, commissioning him to craft 8 fiction pieces that illuminated Biblical pericopes. ******************************************************************************** He’s currently on assignment in Alaska for a documentary film, on assignment in Brooklyn for a potential criminal justice piece of journalism, and many other projects. ******************************************************************************** He lives and serves to help others make what they feel called to make: to that end he has raised over $400,000 in the last seven years for film, literary, audio, and visual arts projects as an artist chaplain in Brooklyn, New York. As he types this sentence, that means clipping the beard hairs of a dying theater producer and dealing with the estate administration for said producer’s foster kids. ******************************************************************************** His 2023 book, "Least of These Least", spiked at #1 in Christian Liberation Theology, #1 in Monasticism & Asceticism, #1 in Local U.S. Politics (Neighbor love). It further hit top 30 in theology, top 15 in Worship, top 100 in U.S. politics in general. He also wrote the novel "Bell Hammers", which Publisher's Weekly called "a hoot" and narrated the audiobook version.

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