There’s a famous story of a 100 year old man who was being interviewed for the news on his birthday. The reporter asked the man what he was most proud of during his century-long journey. The man replied with a smile, “I don’t have an enemy in the world.”
The reporter said “That’s so beautiful and inspiring to hear!”
“Yep,” said the man, “I outlived them all!”
I suppose that reflects many people’s approach to an enemy, a hope of outlasting them in the end. It’s only natural, in our present world, to do all we can to ensure we have the upper hand in life, especially against those who may oppose us. Then along comes Jesus, who flips the status quo on it’s head like he’s flipping over tables in the temple.
We’re going to be reading Luke 6:27-36 in our study this Sunday, and I’ll warn you ahead of time, this won’t be easy. Jesus continues his “Sermon on the Plain”. He goes from describing a blessed life in the context of hunger, lack and mistreatment to prescribing an ethos that seems unthinkable. We’ll be digging in as deeply as we can in the limited time we have – touching on what it may look like to speak blessings on someone who curses us…or the dreaded turning of the other cheek.
It appears that Jesus is asking us to become door mats – but as we examine this, we’ll see that isn’t really the case. Much of what Jesus is presenting has to do with themes of how we interact with our fellow persons – how we can re-frame our sense of honor by basing it on something other than our own ego.
A good way to mentally prepare for this teaching would be to imagine the people in your life that have hurt or upset you – then imagine how kindness, generosity and grace might change the way they act. Imagine creative ways in which you could treat them in ways that demonstrate the qualities of Jesus. It’s not an easy thing to imagine, but it will get us thinking in ways that are in harmony with God’s intent for this world. Any good we may do is going to be a work of the Spirit – so we can be praying for God to fill us with the Holy Spirit in ways that help us engage our fellow human with grace.
As I said, this study isn’t for the weak of heart…but, they are Jesus’ words, and therefore the words of eternal life, so it’s worth the struggle that may ensue. Hope you can join us on Sunday!