Some Extra Thoughts to Chew On

Maybe you don’t have a teenager, so you may not often feel like you’re from another planet. Or that you speak another language.I do, and I do. The tongues of the young have combined and shortened and co-opted words so their bae is “presh” or “adorbs” or even “savage” with style that is on fleek. And if you were to say “huh?” to your presh teen, eye-rolling ensues. Thank goodness for the Urban Dictionary. I can even throw out a new word or two before my teen uses it, which of course prompts even more eye rolling. Apparently, it is not so adorbs when Mom throws shade or declares things to be sick, dude. The other day, she was talking about an acquaintance and said to me, “Ugh, Mom, she is so extra.” Extra, despite your familiarity with the virtues of extra – words like extraordinary, or the sumptuous thought of an extra dessert, or the relief brought on by the announcement, “It’s OK, I brought an extra one” – in this context is a jab. It is directed at the one who substitutes the pencil sketch assignment with a framed oil painting, rents the costume from New York for their dress-up day at band camp, or creates the Pinterest-laden dorm room next to your child’s. It is someone who just does too much. They are just … so extra. I have been thinking about the need for more of us to be extra. To live life in a large way, and to love without limits. Let’s consider the Sermon on the Mount: Jesus begins with some declarations – the Beatitudes describing the blessings that come with a heart that is humble and meek and gentle and pure, and follows that with a string of, “You have heard it said, but I say…” He is talking about a life that goes above and beyond even the Law and traditions the Jews treasured. Oh, Jesus, you’re so extra.

Society doesn’t value extra. We talk about the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but in actuality it is more like, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” We say things like, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” We are more likely to get eye rolls than accolades for talking about or trying to live the “extra” life Jesus calls us into in this celebrated seaside sermon. Jesus is calling people into joining him in a new way of life, and one of those marks of discipleship is that you surrender yourself and your rights.

Jesus says, go ahead; be extra. Don’t take revenge. Don’t take advantage of the Law’s provision to exact an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. Yes, it is allowed, but it is not required. You do not have to get even. Jesus goes on to say, “Don’t retaliate, don’t repay evil with evil.” Don’t seek revenge. Don’t be so eager to right the wrongs against you. Return evil with good. If you want to be extra, your repayment currency is goodness. Don’t fight back even when you are insulted or called a nobody by a degrading slap to the right cheek. Again; don’t take matters into your hot hands. If you are required to settle a debt with your shirt, offer up your exempted cloak, even if it is the only thing to keep you warm on the streets. Willingly walk along with the Roman soldier even after your Fitbit signifies the calculated 1,000th step. Reset it for another 1,000 and celebrate the second signal – that of a healthy servant’s heart. Don’t turn away the borrower in the sixth year, just before the year of forgiveness, despite your financial planner’s advice. And then Jesus escalates. Just in case you didn’t catch how extra he is. Love the person who insulted you, took advantage of you, took your job, stole from you, hurt your family. Oh, Jesus. You are so extra. This crazy, radical, larger-than-life, over-the-top love will have folks saying, “Well aren’t you the spitting image of your father!” You have the characteristics of an extra God. You are his children. I remember when Wrigley’s gum makers came out with a new type of gum. It was the kind of gum where the flavor can jump right down your throat and take your breath away, before you even know it. I remember saying to Doug one of the first times I tried it, that I was concerned the stuff might be radioactive, because it never seemed to lose its flavor – even on the bedpost. We can learn from Wrigley’s marketing taglines: Extra: It will refresh you from tongue to toe. Solomon says it like this: “… whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Extra refreshes us all. Extra: The gum that never gives up. The extra life requires commitment. Give Extra, Get Extra. The blessings of an extra God know no limits. Let the people say of you, “Oh her? Yeah. She is so extra.”