A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is Laura Story, as she leads us tonight in music and worship, that her testimony might inspire us to renewed love and faith in Christ.
Scripture: Luke 6:27-38
Key verse: 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Reflection: In the world of the Roman Empire violence was the currency of social control. In order to keep order and prevent uprisings or rebellions Roman soldiers policed the land and could do pretty much what they wanted. But Rome quickly figured out that oppressive violence always created a violent reaction. So they walked a fine line between having some oppressive regulations and having too many that prompted insurrection. In this world the Roman soldier sometimes mistreated residents, just because he could.
In that world where violence, sometimes deadly violence, was just a misstep away there was a lot of repressed hostility. Normally, if someone struck you on the cheek, you would strike back. If someone demanded your coat, you would fight to keep your shirt. If someone took your possessions, you would look for a way to get them back. Violence begets violence. Breaking that vicious cycle requires responding to violence with something other than violence.
Jesus makes a radical suggestion for how to treat oppressors: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s a great suggestion for working with family, friends, neighbors and members of our “tribe.” But it is a hard word when it applies to enemies.
How can you behave in merciful ways if the other person is hurting you, hurting those you love, stealing your possessions and taking away what’s yours. How can we do to another as we want them to do to us if they are acting like an enemy, out to destroy us? But Jesus insists it applies especially to our enemies. Anyone, he observes, can love people who love us.
The radical challenge of Jesus’ ethic is: love your enemies, be merciful to them, do good for them. The followers of Jesus, and we, also ask, “Why would we do such a thing?” And Jesus comes right back, “Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.” God has shown us the way.
Do unto others as you would have them do to you. We’ll know we’ve got that challenge when we do to our enemies, not as they treat us, but as we would like to be treated. Lord, have mercy on us!
Prayer: I want to retaliate when injured, O God. That old “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” thing makes a lot of sense to me. Help me see beyond my desire for revenge and retribution and help me find that place where love trumps violence and mercy outdoes injustice. Help me see my enemy as valued by you. In the name of Jesus who turned the other cheek. Amen.
Author: Von Clemans
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].