“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6.28-31
If there is one impossible teaching, it’s this one. Listen to what Jesus says —“Love your enemies.” What? Really? Who ever heard of doing that? Has any great leader before Jesus promoted doing this? And then he adds, “do good to those who hate you.” Unbelievable! “Bless those who curse you,” he says and “pray for those who mistreat you.” Impossible!
Now being a Texan, and a male, I don’t take people slapping me with ease. But Jesus says, “If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn to them the other also.” What the heck? And, “If someone talks your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” Lastly Jesus gives his listeners the command, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Now I know there must be some cultural references here — cheek slapping, was that common? Did people slap each other’s cheeks as a form of an insult or challenge? But what about the rest — it’s unimaginable to think that if someone cures me, I would bless them. Or if someone steals from me, I would not demand back my possessions. But unorthodox transformation is exactly what Jesus does.
Now I studied in seminary about the “just war theory,” justification for going to battle against your enemies to protect the innocent. That happened a lot in the Old Testament and even in our history of America. But what Jesus is asking, is usual, it’s not commonplace, it’s just plain radical.
Jesus never intended for his disciples to be like everyone else. If the greatest commandment is love, Matthew 22.34-40, then how better to display loving our neighbor then not fighting for our rights, humbling ourselves, submitting to others authority. What Jesus teaches is contrary to our human nature. But what is impossible for me is possible with God!
Today I may not fully accomplish the type of self-denial and humility that Jesus endured upon the cross, but at least I can begin by loving my neighbor. Being kind and caring, generous and encouraging to those who like me and even those who don’t. I will be able to do this by God’s g
“O Lord God, you are faithful to your people. Your Spirit lives in me and resides in all who call upon the name of the Lord. I praise you God for your ever lasting love and your redemptive grace and might. Come now, Holy Spirit, take control of all my actions, thoughts and intentions. Help me be the person you called me to be, to walk in your ways and to follow in your steps. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen