Living a Life Far Beyond the Ordinary
Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 17 January 2016.
By John Abbate
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”—Matthew 5:40-44 (Sermon on the Mount, KJV)
The thought of being different or special in some way can elicit both excitement and fear. For many people, it is automatic behaviour to hide or downplay their differences, the better to fit in. Yet, “there is something in many of us that wants to change the ordinary into something more,” said Dr Macnab. “By all means be ordinary. I won’t take that away from you. But be special too, to somebody: to a child, a partner, a dog, to yourself, to your higher self.”
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” —Matthew 18:21-22 (KJV)
Dr Macnab has a term that gathers the ordinary and the something more: ordinary plus (O+). The question he asks is, How to live an O+ life? In the New Testament, Jesus sets out an extraordinary program, an ideal of human behaviour that is all the more tantalizing for being out of reach of ordinary mortals. At the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asks his followers to be perfect, “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
They say to never let the perfect become the enemy of the good. So make the attempt, “follow the code,” as Dr Macnab says, and get started living an O+ life:
- Love your enemy.
- Forgive without limit.
- Be generous.
- Go the second mile.
- Don’t fixate on the faults of others.
- Do not condemn.
- Be different. Start affirming the goodness of life.
“It matters not at all at the end of your life whether you can recite the Ten Commandments or the thirty-nine articles of religion or the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Let them all be. Rise above everything ordinary. […] If your religion restores your belief in yourself as a person of worth, that is one of the most important things that can happen.”
As always, I now point the reader to the recording of Dr Macnab’s Sunday address: