Years ago people would argue that the earth is flat. It made sense. If we didn’t know what science has taught us today most of us would still believe that the earth is flat. It’s counter-intuitive that the earth is round. If it were round, then people would fall off!

Years ago people would argue that the sun circled the earth. Think about it for a moment–you stand outside for a day and you can watch the sun go from one side of the sky to the other—it must be circling the earth. It’s counter-intuitive that the earth would be circling the sun.

But, the earth is nevertheless round and continues to circle the sun!

Unfortunately, the church has been known to be a bit intolerant of those who championed counter-intuitive ideas. In 1614, from the pulpit of Santa Maria Novella, Father Tommaso Caccini denounced Galileo’s opinions about the earth revolving around the sun, judging them dangerous and perilously close to heresy. Galileo went to Rome to defend himself against the accusations but, in 1616, Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino personally admonished Galileo to neither advocate nor teach his “anti-Biblical” astronomy.

Is it any wonder that the church of Jesus’ day would condemn him for his counter-intuitive message?

Jesus said,

You have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor” and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! (Matthew 4:43-44 NLT) As if “being religious” wasn’t already hard enough.

Give, and you will receive. (Luke 6:38 NLT) We think our economy is tough. Jesus spoke these words to a people living under severe oppression and taxation.

What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? (Matthew 16:26 MSG) These words were in response to Jesus’ disciple Peter doing his best to stop Jesus from talking about heading into town to die.

Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. (Luke 6:35 NLT) When Jesus said these words, it was the prevalent view of the culture that if you helped someone then you deserved to be repaid. Almost always . . . giving had an ulterior motive.

Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible. (Matthew 19:26 NLT) Jesus repeated words like this on numerous occasions addressing a variety of seemingly impossible situations.

Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. (Matthew 20:26-27 NLT) This was Jesus’ response to His disciples arguing over who would be the greatest in the new kingdom.

Pray for those who persecute you! (Matthew 5:44 NLT) When Jesus spoke these words He understood them firsthand.

Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children. (Matthew 19:14 NLT) Jesus’ words astonished a society that placed very little value on children. Jesus’ disciples were shooing the children away—they were establishing a kingdom! Their King surely had more pressing matters to attend to.

Sit here while I go over there and pray. (Matthew 26:36 NLT) Jesus said this to His disciples in the face of His impending death. Didn’t He have more important things to do?

I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. (Matthew 16:18 NLT) When Jesus uttered these words, His followers were expecting a new kingdom. What does the church have to do with it?

Is it any wonder that the counter-intuitive words of Jesus would eventually contribute to, if not cause, His being crucified?

The amazing thing is that Jesus promised then and promises now that, if we will live our lives in His counter-intuitive manner, then we will live the fullest life imaginable. Counter-intuitive, isn’t it?