Sunday, January 15, 2012

even them? you have got to be kidding me.

 my view as i am writing this blog post... quiet in the house right now.

you have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  but I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.  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,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  for if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? do not even the tax collectors do the same?  if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? do not even the gentiles do the same?
therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.   matthew 5:38-48

i have always thought the words of Jesus in the sermon on the mount (matthew 5-7) were particularly challenging.  these challenge me to the core if i take them literally.

do not resist an evil person.  if they hit you, abuse you, mistreat you, just let them do it again.  He couldn't be serious, right?  He wouldn't really be telling us to allow someone to cause us pain.

i have heard so many many people, unfortunately including those from pulpits, argue how this couldn't really be literal.  i have heard so many people say how it is okay, even godly, to defend ourselves and our rights.

the only problem with this is that Jesus didn't defend Himself or His rights.  He wasn't asking anything of His followers that He wasn't willing to live fully Himself.

just as challenging is the exhortation to love your enemies.  did you know that there is no where in the old testament that it says to hate your enemies?  it is almost humorous how many times i have heard it said that Jesus was correcting the old testament here.  no, it did say to love your neighbor and to treat them right, (He wasn't just adding the love your neighbor as yourself stuff to the 1st commandment... it was a commonly understood command of the Lord all through the law), but it never said to hate or mistreat an enemy.

yet, how many times do we just turn a blind eye to this exhortation of Jesus and justify our anger at our enemies?  we even call it righteous anger at times, trying to make it godly.

Jesus is right.  it is so easy for me to be kind to those who treat me well.  it is easy to give to those who appreciate what i give them.  it is easy to pray for a friend who has done so much to positively impact my life.

but the person who treats me like dirt and doesn't understand me, appreciate me, or sometimes even wounds me?  pray for them?  love them?

you mean the one who betrayed me?  the one who at my weakest moment rubbed salt in my wounds and didn't seem to care that my heart was broken and devastated... even them?  love them?  pray for them?

there is a reason there is a reward for this completely counter culture request.  many times throughout the different gospels Jesus says that if we receive our reward here, we forfeit it later.  if we fail to get the reward here, He will make sure of it we do get it on the Day of the Lord and then it will be forever.

we rarely get any rewards for allowing someone to hurt us again.  we rarely get any advice to lay down our lives for those who betray us, even from our friends who are believers.  our first instinct is definitely not to love those who cause us pain.  i know it isn't mine.

Jesus' teachings are so challenging and honestly most of us, even those of us who say we desire to follow Him, hate what He asks us to do.

but He never asked anything that He didn't do Himself.

when we spit on Him, He turned the other cheek.

when we told Him that He owed us something, He was gracious and gave freely and not begrudgingly.

when we hated Him for who He was and is and how much He made us realize our own darkness, He loved us anyways.

when we crucified Him, (because each one of us would have been in that crowd yelling 'crucify Him!' if we are really honest) He prayed to the Father asking Him to forgive us because we didn't really know what we were doing.

He could have called down fire from heaven and would have been fully justified, but He didn't.  our entire hope and salvation and life depends on the fact that He turned the other cheek, and we defend daily, sometimes every moment, why we are justified in our unforgiveness towards those who have done true wrong towards us.

if Jesus's words are literal and true, there is so much i must change about how i live and so much in my paradigm, in the paradigm of the entire Christian church, that needs to change.

seems so huge sometimes it is hard to know where to begin, huh.  well, when you stop reading this blog and someone mistreats you, the simple prayer for help to respond the way Jesus asks us to is a great start.

He gives us plenty of opportunities to practice this in our lives, over and over again.  i challenge you to ask for the grace to take what He said as true and then to walk it out.  we will mess up over and over again, but as i said, we will get so many opportunities to practice this with mistreatment... over and over again.

go, and be like your Father.


linking up with barbie this week for fresh brewed sundays.

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