Some people seem to be able to do things which to the majority of people are quite impossible. Contortionist Aleksei Goloborodko, for example, member of the Cirque du Soleil, can get his body into positions which most of us would simply be unable to do, as this video demonstrates. His flexibility and ability to move his body in ways ordinary people can’t are the result of many years of hard work (he started at the age of four) and many hours of practice per day. For him, this kind of activity is ‘normal’, but for most of us it would be impossible.

In Rom 12:14 we see a verse which commands us to do the impossible: ‘Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. It’s such a revolutionary, counter-intuitive way of living that Paul goes on to expand on this idea in Rom 12:17-21, but this is not just Paul’s idea. Peter tells us Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing’ (1 Pet 3:9) and both apostles were simply echoing the words of Jesus in Matt 5:44-45. To do these things is not normal; it goes agains all we are taught throughout life and all received wisdom, but this is how God wants His people to be.

Many of God’s commands to us seem to make sense (e.g. the commands to not steal, lie or get drunk – see Eph 4:28, Eph 4:24, Eph 5:18) and many of us have little difficulty in obeying these commands. But the command to love and bless our enemies goes beyond the natural and the normal. It requires us to live in a miraculous realm, where dependence on God is the only way we can fulfil His will.

Many of us struggle even to bless those we love, as the New Testament makes plain. Paul reminds us that we are called to put others before ourselves (Phil 2:3), which may well mean being trampled on or cheated (see 1 Cor 6:7). If we are to fully obey God in blessing our enemies, however, we need to surrender to God’s word and, when forced to choose between our feelings and desires and obedience, choose to obey. Jesus is our example of living out this ‘new normal’ (see 1 Pet 2:20-23) and if we want to do impossible things, it will mean going back to the start and practising daily living out God’s commandments in His strength and not in our own.