The familiar adage to “go the extra mile” was born over 2000 years ago when Jesus clarified the standards that would distinguish his kingdom from the world’s. At that time, Palestine was occupied by the Roman army, and the military was permitted to press the Jewish populace into service when necessary. For instance, by martial law, a soldier could require a civilian to carry his pack for up to one mile. Of course the Jews resented this compulsory service, so the disciples were surprised when Jesus urged them to go beyond the letter of the law by carrying the soldier’s pack two miles.(1)
In Matthew 5, you can read about this and find several other examples Jesus cited to clarify a new “above-and-beyond” standard: “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” “If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Each of these and the Beatitudes that precede them were part of Christ’s effort to confront and recalibrate the common eye-for-an-eye, give-what-you-get attitude of the day, and to clarify that the expectations in his Father’s kingdom were different, higher.
Today, it’s still common for people to resent service, to do only what’s required of them, or to manage and measure their personal investments simply to keep the interpersonal scales balanced, and Christ continues to call his followers to a higher level of care and commitment. He calls us to defy the conventional wisdom by serving others not only willingly, but extravagantly. He reminds us that the mark of his followers is still love (2), that service to others is service to him (3), and that his disciples are still distinguished by their propensity to go above-and-beyond in service to his creation.
It’s this attitude and initiative we seek to demonstrate in The Gideons International.
What does 2nd Mile Service mean?
We use the term “2nd Mile Service” to represent our organizational commitment to exceed conventional expectations for service, and to remind ourselves that the quality of our service to others is indicative of our commitment to Christ. For this reason, we purpose to be:
In the end, our organization’s commitment to 2nd Mile Service is intended to turn the tables on conventional ideas about serving others,to elevate the role and regard for service, and to establish exceptional service as a hallmark of our culture. We believe this prepares us to model and cultivate the very “attitude of Christ, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (4)
(1) Matthew 5:41
(3)Ephesians 6:7, Matthew 25:31-.46
(4) Phillipians 2:5-.8